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December 27, 2012

Small-townies grew up to do big things


“I drove on a lot of local short tracks in upstate New York,” he said. “When I moved down south, the main thing is I just wanted to be in the sport of NASCAR. It is amazing how far we have gone in just our second year.”

Somebody who has been on the big stage for a while was able to get home this summer and perform.

Dwayne Croft, a 1979 Cooperstown Central School graduate and internationally known baritone opera singer, played the role of Harold Hill in “The Music Man” as part of the Glimmerglass Festival.

At the time, Croft said there was nothing like being back home and being able to perform at the Glimmerglass Festival, where he had been introduced to opera.

“It’s where I got started,” he said. “I was a trumpet player in the high school band. They needed a band to march across the stage for one of the performances and I got to be a part of that. I fell in love with it, and started watching it a lot.”

Croft said he joined the opera’s chorus and took on small parts in 1976. He sang in his first featured role with the company in 1982 as Yamadori in “Madama Butterfly.”

According to Croft, every show was performed at the Cooperstown High School from 1977 to 1996. The Opera House was built in 1987, and Croft said he was the first person to sing on the new stage. It was with an orchestra to get a feeling of what the sound would be like, he said.

The artist worked at the opera every summer until 1990 when his aspirations shifted him to the Big Apple.

In 1989, Croft was accepted into the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artist Development Program. He has appeared in more than 400 performances of 30 roles at the Metropolitan Opera, including the title role of Billy Budd, Pelléas in “Pelléas et Mélisande” and the title role in “Don Giovanni.”

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