JACOPERA members Christina Hourihan, Anastasia Rege, Jennie Legary
The arts and cultural scene in Forest Hills has made a comeback in recent years.
A prime example is Belle Arti Center for the Arts at 108-10 72nd Avenue, which was opened in 2007 by musicians Claudette Munné and Massimiliano Facchini as the neighborhood’s first and only boutique-like music school of European heritage and has since expanded to offer visual arts and Italian language classes, has become a Queens institution.
One of the school’s influential personalities is soprano vocalist, pianist, and teacher Anastasia Rege, who became a permanent faculty member in 2013. She shares her expertise with students who study voice, piano, percussion, and music theory. She also co-directs The Teacher's Pets, a student rock band.
The band performs covers of varying genres, and the current repertoire includes the tunes of Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel, The Eagles, Chuck Berry, and Bob Marley.
Rege can also be spotted around town offering group piano lessons at Public School 144’s after-school enrichment program, which consists of two sessions on a weekly basis with a class of five to seven students who receive individualized attention.
Rege also helped launch JACOPERA with colleagues Christina Hourihan and Jennie Legary.
“Our mission is to make opera and classical music accessible, tangible, and relevant to our generation and those to come,” she said. “I like to describe us as the female millennial version of The Three Tenors.”
When JACOPERA performed on the west coast in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs Hospital of Palo Alto, they donated 20 tickets to veterans.
“After the concert, many approached us and said it was their first time experiencing opera and now they are newfound opera fans,” Rege said. “It was a rewarding experience to give back to the community and bring the gift of music to others.”
To share their talents with a broader audience they decided to venture overseas, and on July 3 performed at Magazzino Musica in Milan, Italy. A highlight of the performance was a world premiere by Brooklyn-based composer Ivonne Paredes commissioned especially for the concert.
“We hope to perform more concerts in New York City in the coming months, and plan to invite our colleagues to perform ensemble numbers,” Rege said.
Rege achieved an undergraduate degree in music from the University of Connecticut in 2012 and a masters from the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music in 2014. Her diverse accomplishments include appearances in operas such as Mozart’s “Bastien und Bastienne,” Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen,” Offenbach’s “La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein” and Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.”
As far back as Rege can recall, music was an interest, but she was also a very energetic child that dedicated a lot of her time to athletics.
“When I suffered a sports injury in my early teens leaving me immobile for many months, music helped me as an emotional outlet and a means to pass time,” she said. “It has evolved from a great hobby to a rewarding career.”
Rege said she is inspired by a quote from Placido Domingo, “If I rest, I rust.”
“It is a constant reminder to create, inspire and never be stagnant as an artist and member of society,” she said.
Rege offered advice to young people wishing to embark on a similar career path.
“Never lose sight of why you love music,” she said. “Always push yourself and your students pass their expectations, and the unthinkable happens when you think it can.”