March 23rd, 2018 the Chapel at St. Joseph Retreat Center, Staten Island served as the stage for a remarkable beautiful opera performance. The artists, Hayden DeWitt, Allegra Durante, Preston Fritz Smith and Yiling Ding truly transported the audience to Shakespeare’s time.
Before the performance, the 45 attendees enjoyed a cocktail hour. Assorted beverages paired perfectly with a selection of savory appetizers including crudités, shrimp cocktail, spanokopita, quiche, crab cakes, and more. For sweets, guests enjoyed tiramisu, lemon parfait, fresh mixed berries, and a beautiful assortment of homemade cookies prepared by the convent’s own Sr. Matilda.
During the festive cocktail hour, Liz Imbro engaged our guests about what they expected from the performance including which family would win—the Capulets or the Montagues. She also used the informal setting to offer insights on what to expect from a retreat and how to use the evening as an example of art as a form of spiritual retreat or meditation.
How did the chapel ever come to serve as a stage for art? We will call it a “Hill Family Affair.” Liz Cotter and Liz Imbro are long time friends of each other and supporters of their alma mater and the Sisters. The idea struck to host this event the week of St. Joseph’s day as a celebration and open house for the St. Joseph Retreat Center. Fortunately, Imbro is also family friends with Allegra Durante, whose ensemble was able to reunite for this repeat performance (originally held in 2015 as a fundraiser following the completion of the new chapel).
Those in attendance ranged from friends of friends, Hill alumnae, Lay Associates of the Sisters and St. Joseph Retreat Center participants. The event served as a unique retreat tying together art, love and time for self reflection. It was also an opportunity for guests to see the site as a venue for private retreats, group retreats and more.
The cast gives special thanks to the Daughters of Divine Charity for inviting them to perform; to Elizabeth Imbro for making the re-introductions that brought us back here; to Charles Imbro for bringing the music in a very literal sense by providing us with a keyboard; and to Ascension Church, for providing rehearsal space in Manhattan.
Special thanks to Sister Matilda for baking beautiful cookies, made even more delicious with the love she pours into them. Another thanks is sent to Tiffany Mazza for returning home to Hill for the evening to assist as hostess and caterer.