Maestro Anton Coppola, famous director Francis Ford Coppola’s uncle and great uncle to Nicolas Cage; is celebrating his 100th birthday this year. He turned the magic centennial number back on March 21. The New Rochelle Opera is hosting their Annual Spring Gala event at The Fountainhead in New Rochelle. This year, they will honor Maestro Coppola at their largest annual fundraiser on April 21.

Celebrating a milestone of 100 years young

Artistic Director of New Rochelle Opera, Camille Coppola (no relation to the Maestro) said that the company is very proud and excited to honor Maestro Coppola this year, as he represents all works in the performing arts sector in opera, theater, music and film.

The NR Opera has honored other operatic celebrity talent, including Roberta Peters, Robert Merrill, Licia Albanese, Tony Randall and Barbara Cook. Maestro Coppola himself issued a statement about the NR Opera honoring him: "I am grateful to New Rochelle Opera for this honor, and appreciate the work the company does to keep opera alive.”

Honoring a legend in the arts

Maestro Coppola was born in Bushwick, Brooklyn on March 21, 1917. His career catapulted at an early age when he was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus. In World War II, he was a bandmaster in the army and a conductor at Radio City Music Hall. He met his current wife, Almerinda when she was a dancer at Radio City. He conducted "The Godfather Part III" and is featured in the film conducting "Callveria Rustincana" and 1992's "Dracula" and several Broadway musicals in the 1950's and 60s, including "The Boy Friend" starring Julie Andrews.

Coppola also composed "Sacco and Vanzetti", an opera in Italian and English about two Italian immigrants and received a high honor from the Italian government with a Lifetime Achievement Award, from the Puccini Foundation, and recognition as Cavaliere, Gran Ufficiale. He founded the Opera Tampa and became their official Artistic Director until his retirement in 2012.

He also wrote a composition dedicated to his nephew, director Francis Ford Coppola entitled, "Fa-Fa-Do." His brother, Carmine Coppola, Francis' father played flute for the NBC Symphony Orchestra.

On March 25, a special concert was held and presented by Opera Tampa to honor his 100th birthday and he served as the conductor. Members of the Coppola family attended to support the special occasion.

Tickets for this event cost $150 and will include dinner, cocktails, dancing, and a live auction.

The New Rochelle Opera was established to provide operatic entertainment to the Westchester Community and strives to maintain a deep appreciation and understanding of the operatic performing arts.