Met tenor to perform in Freehold

FREEHOLD – Eduardo Villa, a world renown tenor who performs at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, will hold a benefit concert at the First Baptist Church, 81 W. Main St., at 2 p.m. Dec. 10.

Villa, of Manalapan, has made notable appearances on stages throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia during his career. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in January 2002 in the title role of “Don Carlos” and has since returned for further acclaim in such portrayals of Radames in “Aida,” Lt. Pinkerton in “Madame Butterfly” and Don Jose in “Carmen.”

Villa said he offered to hold the Christmas concert because his friend, Randy W. Corder, the church’s minister of music, had helped him with a benefit concert at Hope Lutheran Church of Freehold Township on May 15, 2005, to benefit the youth mission trip to Bosnia.

“I wanted to return the favor,” Villa said, adding that he met Corder, who is a music teacher at the Clark Mills School, Manalapan, two years ago. Villa’s two daughters had attended the school.

Corder, once again, will play piano during the hour long event while Villa sings songs such as “Ave Maria,” “Joy to the World” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in various languages.

“It is important to hear beautiful Christmas hymns and standards,” the tenor said.

Villa, a Los Angeles native whose family hails from Mexico, said he also will perform songs written and composed by his grandfather.

All proceeds will benefit the music program of the church and help to upgrade the sound system in the sanctuary.

Corder, of Freehold Township, said, “We are most fortunate to have such a gifted and talented musician living right here in our own community, who is so willing to give so generously to others. I am most grateful to know such a wonderful human being as Eduardo.”

The Rev. William L. Frederickson, pastor of the church, said the sanctuary, which is adorned with stained-glass windows, will be decorated for the holiday concert. The high-Victorian Gothic, wood-frame church was dedicated in 1890.

“It will be the high point of the season to hear this magnificent voice in such beautiful surroundings,” Frederickson said. “It is a great honor to have him sing here.”

Tickets for Villa’s Dec. 10 performance are $10 each. A limited number of tickets will be sold. They are available by calling the church office between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at (732) 462-1105. Refreshments will be served during intermission.