Star of Brooklyn: Francine Garber


INVOLVEMENT: Fran Garber joined the Regina Opera Company — founded in 1970 at Regina Pacis Church — in 1974. She started out as a young chorus member when the company was producing operas with just a piano accompaniment.As the volunteer-based organization gained more singers, the company started using 35-piece orchestras for the operas it presented.“I thought this was a wonderful opportunity for people in Brooklyn to see live performances in opera without having to go to Manhattan and paying a lot for ticket prices,” said Garber. “So I became more and more active in the company.”Following a relocation of Regina Opera to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sunset Park, Garber realized that her efforts with Regina Opera took up so much of her time and decided to work with the company full-time. Garber is the opera and concert producer, executive vice president, and also chairperson of the Board of Directors.“Our mission is to present opera to Brooklyn residents at affordable prices, and also to provide a place for opera singers and young emerging musical artists to hone their craft,” she said. “We’d like to reach out to students because they will become the audience of the future.

”OBSTACLE: “As far as Regina Opera, the most difficult part of running an opera company and probably running any art organization is fundraising,” Garber said. She added that sometimes arts organizations do not seem to be important to donors. To change that, Garber believes that the arts should be a part of every person’s everyday life. “We should be surrounded by art, by music, by fine art, by literature,” she said.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: After 44 years of being with Regina Opera, Garber feels her greatest accomplishment is helping the company last this long.

PROFESSIONAL LIFE: Before committing to Regina Opera full-time, Garber was a teacher for the New York City Board of Education for 10 years. Afterwards, she worked for the New York City Department of Labor in the Unemployment Insurance division and left that job in 2012. She got her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Spanish Language and Literature at Brooklyn College.

PERSONAL LIFE: Garber resides in the Kensington section of Brooklyn with her husband, Barry Cohen.

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