FORT LEE, N.J. -- The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera presented Rita Tonitto of Fort Lee with the its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, at its production of La Gioconda at bergenPAC.
Tonitto was recognized for 25 years of service and contributions to the organization and opera. During that time, she assumed several positions in the organization.
"Rita Tonitto has been an integral part of Verismo Opera's humble beginnings singing in the Verismo Opera Chorus first and later using her skills helping the nonprofit company as a patron and assuming a range of responsibilities, such as organizing and managing the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera's Annual International Vocal Competition, recruiting volunteers, updating the mailing list, writing thank you notes to donors, working on grant proposals and many other contributions," said Giovanni Simone, CFO of Verismo Opera.
After the production of La Gioconda, she is retiring and moving out of the area.
"The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera is losing a central volunteer and a fine, gifted, generous individual, who loves the arts and gave 100 percent of her time and knowledge. She will be greatly missed," said Simone.
Tonitto was also honored for her many volunteer contributions to the organization at the Bergen Volunteer Center's annual Celebrate Volunteers recognition event held this spring at Bergen Community College.
Originally an office manager for a major insurance company, she applied her management skills from her professional career to volunteering with Verismo Opera as an administrator, assuming the position of supernumeraries coordinator and managing the distribution of discounted tickets.
Tonitto has also been actively involved with the Leonardo da Vinci Society and the Italian Folkloristic Dance Group, performing in the United States original Italian dances from Italy.