It is way overdue for Charleston to have a proper theatre that allows homegrown talent like myself to perform in my hometown. With HALO, I know I can participate in outreach around the community and try to spread the same appreciation for the arts that I had when I was a kid growing up in the 843.

- George Slotin, Tenor/Broadway Actor

As a Charleston native, it has long been a dream of mine to bring my talents and abilities home and to exercise them for the benefit of the city. HALO will undoubtedly provide the Charleston community with long-overdue exposure to substantial, professional quality opera and musical theatre, and will also provide local artists (performance and production) the ability to thrive within their own community. My hope is to be part of this initiative by helping to engage the community through the arts and to expand the city’s cultural heritage.

- Paul McCrae, costume/fashion designer

I’ve been hoping for a professional opera company in Charleston for so many years and when I learned about HALO, I immediately reached out to see how I could be involved. It would mean so much on so many levels to be able to work in my hometown and reconnect with the arts community that raised me.

- Heather Jones, Mezzo-soprano

What excites me most about HALO is that their vision is the amplification of their core values and mission statement. It is inspiring to hear Leah speak of the value of Opera in one breath and the value of community in the next. Opera is just the modus operandi and symbolic metaphor for their main focus on people.

- Brian McFarland, Charleston Cavalier Tours

I did not think of myself as an opera person. Then I met Leah and Dimitri. Knowing their background, I was astonished to discover that they are real people. They work in the yard with toddlers playing in the dirt and the family dog romping in the grass. They are real people with extraordinary talents honed by hard work. World-class voices heard in world-class venues, yet real people who care intensely about their neighbors and their community.

I had always associated opera with elaborate costumes and sets, made-up faces, and music in languages I do not understand. Some high brows like it, but I could only take it in small doses. Then I attended my first Social Distance-SING!

Leah and Dimitri demonstrate that real people sing opera, with an intimacy and a sparkle that reflects their relationship with each other and the relaxed rapport they instantly wield with their entranced audiences. Everyone sits close enough to see the tremolo quivering in their throats, to feel the shaking timbre of their power in your chest, to sense the intensity of their emotion in your heart.

Opera is for real people. Thanks to Leah and Dimitri and HALO for bringing opera back to Charleston and teaching me that I can be an opera person too. You don’t just hear music. You feel it!

- Ralph Shealy, M.D.

I recently had the pleasure of attending one of Holy City Arts and Lyric Opera’s Social Distance-SING!s. As we waited for the performance to begin, adults chatted from a distance, while their children nearby were wholly focused on their play. At once, the singing began, and the children stopped in their tracks. Bodies stood focused and mesmerized with the beauty of what we were hearing, some for the first time. What struck us all was that in the midst of our neighborhood, there was something both powerful and familiar in this music. Grandparents stepped out of their homes to take it all in, and children found a new way to connect with others around them, asking questions and learning about opera. We all felt connected to the amazing talent pouring out of Leah and Dimitri, who engaged even the smallest children in conversation afterward. Holy City Arts and Lyric Opera is truly a multi-generational gift to the Lowcountry!

- Rachel Lessard

A huge shoutout to Dimitri and Leah for sharing the gift of music. Their Social Distance-SING!s have brought not only joy, but also a measure of comfort to our neighborhood as we all navigate through this uncertain time. Dimitri and Leah’s incredible talent coupled with their obvious passion for their art has inspired me (admittedly a novice) to further explore and enjoy the world of opera!

- Ginny Jones

It’s difficult to put into words the spiritual experience that music is for me. Music provides the outlet for tears and laughter and even a creative place for anger. HALO concerts have reminded me of this. To hear beautiful voices and accompaniment and again to realize that these gifts are coming from these wonderful folks reminds me once again what magnificent creatures we all are. Again, hard to put into words. If you haven’t heard, then you must. It is life giving. Thanks Dimitri and Leah.

- Elaine Lehr

Truth be told, I was not looking forward to this birthday… stuck at home, I was ready for a pity party instead of a birthday party. Thanks to you, this year’s birthday exceeded all my expectations. Your beautiful voices were absolutely awesome! You gave me a birthday memory to treasure for a lifetime: sheer joy!

- Kathy Coffmann

I’ve been watching the live stream opera with The Met every day and I would never have expected this on my front porch on Gadsden Street.

- Mark Bloom

I had the most uplifting, positive day after the Social Distance-SING! concert. I smiled the rest of the day because of how beautiful it was. It brought so much joy.

- Karen Plaehn, after the Snee Farm performance

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