From Pentozali to Puccini: Opera Star Remembers Her Roots— And Returns to Honor Them

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As a young pre-teen, Alexandra Loutsion juggled her time between her “American school” activities and her “Greek” life. Mom Susan often had a constant carpool zig-zagging between after school choir practice and then, heading straight to Cretan dance practice to learn the latest “pentozali” routine for an upcoming performance.

Like most Greek American kids, Alexandra grew up balancing two worlds— one that pad tribute to her grandparents who hailed from the Greek islands of Crete and Rhodes, and that of the place where she was born and raised.

Alexandra went on to pursue music in college and today, she’s one of the nation’s most well-known opera singers. But the road to Puccini was definitely peppered with influence from her Greek heritage.

In addition to dancing with the Cretan Association of Pittsburgh’s youth dance group, Loutsion sang in the choir of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in her hometown of Canonsburg.

“Believe it or not, whether I was dancing the Pentozali or singing the Lamentations of Christ on Good Friday, it was all integral to developing and fostering my love for opera and music overall. It definitely played a role,” Loutsion said in an interview with The Pappas Post.

This weekend, she returns to Pittsburgh where she stars in the Pittsburgh Opera’s production of Puccini’s classic opera “Tourendot”. The massive production will feature almost 180 people on stage, elaborate costumes and children from the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus — the same group where she first developed her own love of classical music.

During a break from rehearsals, Alexandra took some time off to meet the kids involved and share her own story— helping to inspire a new generation of performers and reminding them that even a kid from Pittsburgh can play the big stages someday.

If you happen to be in Pittsburgh, you can see Loutsion and the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus perform in “Tourandot” with the Pittsburgh Opera at the Benedum Center starting this Saturday, March 25; Tuesday, March 28; Friday, March 31 and Sunday, April 2.

 

Featured photo Photo via David Bachman Photography

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