Joseph Pucciatti is the co-founder, artistic director and conductor of Boheme Opera NJ (Boheme), now entering its 22nd season. During his tenure, he has conducted many of the legendary works of the operatic repertoire on the main stage, including Aida, Turandot, Carmen and Madama Butterfly, to name but a few. Mr. Pucciatti has served as both stage director and conductor for Boheme's productions of Rigoletto and La Traviata, and collaborated with Graham Lustig, former artistic director of American Repertory Ballet, on a critically acclaimed production of West Side Story, Boheme's first musical theater production. He recently conducted the company's first staging of Gilbert and Sullivan with The Pirates of Penzance.
Mr. Pucciatti is a career music teacher for the Trenton Board of Education. For 32 years, he has worked at all levels in the choral and instrumental departments of various schools in the district. Currently teaching at Trenton Central High School, he oversees the orchestra, which, for the past 19 years, has performed his arrangements of classical works and excerpts from musical theater. In recognition, he was a recipient of the Governor's Teacher Recognition Award for contribution to excellence and devoted service in the field of teaching.
His focus on education has long been a component of Boheme, with the company's High School Apprenticeship Program, invited dress rehearsals, student backstage tours and college internships. Mr. Pucciatti has also been the author of opera adaptations for Boheme's most popular student outreach program, Inside Opera. With available funding, this hands-on curriculum-based program brings opera theater into middle and high schools through the talent of young singers on the brink of performance careers.
Mr. Pucciatti's educational interests extend to public outreach in the form of lecture courses on opera, focusing on the Italian opera experience, and as the host of Boheme's popular pre-curtain talks, offering backgrounds of the operas and the composers.
An International Who's Who of Professionals inductee, Mr. Pucciatti has been honored by the Italian-American National Hall of Fame as its Entertainer of the Year, and has received awards from the Italian-American Society of Monroe Township, NJ, and the Trenton Community Music School. He served as the guest conductor of The Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra on several occasions, and was the music director of The Greater Trenton Choral Society for 18 years. This year, he proudly completed 30 years as the director of the Congregation Beth Chaim Choir of Princeton Junction. Mr. Pucciatti is also the choir director of Our Lady of the Angels Parish of Trenton, NJ.
He resides in Hamilton Township, NJ, with his wife, Boheme co-founder Sandra, and their daughter, Rachel.
Sandra Milstein-Pucciatti is the pianist for Boheme Opera NJ (Boheme), and has been a successful professional accompanist for the past 36 years. A versatile accompanist, she specializes not only in voice literature, but also in the repertoire of woodwinds and brass. During the course of her career, she has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras in the region, as well as in solo recital. Ms. Milstein-Pucciatti has accompanied noted opera artists from the Metropolitan Opera, including the late legendary bass Jerome Hines, baritones Vernon Hartman and David Arnold, tenors Ronald Naldi, Anthony Laciura and Allan Glassman, as well as the late countertenor John Ferrante of P.D.Q. Bach fame.
In 1985, Ms. Milstein-Pucciatti appeared at the Long Beach Chamber Music Festival and, while in California, formed a professional piano-duo team, East-West Piano Duo, with her long-time colleague Sylvia Ho Lau. The team produced and performed a coast-to-coast tour a year later, and, in 1993, reunited to perform at the newly opened Torrance Arts Theater in California.
Ms. Milstein-Pucciatti and husband, Joseph, formed Boheme in 1989. In 1992, she began presenting opera lectures in the community as part of Boheme's public outreach programming. During the 1999-2000 season, Ms. Milstein-Pucciatti created and earned funding for Inside Opera, the company's first onsite curriculum-based educational program for middle and high school students. The program has served over 7,000 students with in-school opera adaptations in the Mercer-Burlington County region.
Ms. Milstein-Pucciatti received, both summa cum laude, her bachelor of music from Temple University School of Music and her master of arts from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). As a solo pianist, she studied under such noted artists/teachers as Susan Starr and Eleanor Sokoloff, both of the Curtis Institute of Music; Harvey Wedeen and Alexander Fiorillo (protégé of Vladimir Horowitz), both of Temple University; and the renowned German master teacher Karl Ulrich Schnabel, with whom she had a 10-year association from 1981-1991. She also studied accompanying with Lambert Orkis, known for his prowess as a concert and recording accompanist and chamber musician throughout the United States and abroad.
She was associated for 23 years with the Department of Music at Trenton State College as a freelance accompanist. From 1993-2000, Ms. Milstein-Pucciatti served on the faculty of the New Jersey Governor's School of the Arts Music Division as piano and ensemble coach.
For the past 30 years, Ms. Milstein-Pucciatti has accompanied, while her husband Joseph has directed, the Congregation Beth Chaim Choir of Princeton Junction. Winner of several awards and acknowledgements, Sandra maintains a private piano studio. She resides in Hamilton Township, NJ, with her husband, Joseph, and their 23-year-old daughter, Rachel.