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Opera Is Just a Hobby for Yorktown Eye Doctor

YORKTOWN, N.Y. — He mixes colorful bow ties with pristine-white lab coats, and with a wave of his hand and a tilt of his head he’ll try to convince you he really isn’t that interesting. But if you sit for just a minute in the office he has adorned with his own photographs and trinkets from around the world, you’ll learn that Yorktown ophthalmologist Dr. Morris Glassman spends his free time on the stage, and will do so in the Taconic Opera this weekend.

March 23, 24 and 25 Glassman will sing in the chorus of "Don Pasquale," a comic opera, at Yorktown Stage. Though he didn’t even begin formal signing lessons until about 12 years ago, when he was asked to join a chorus at the hospital where he works, Glassman said he’s always known what he wanted to pursue — both in his career and his hobby.

Some might note it’s interesting to see a doctor so seamlessly combine science and creativity, but Glassman disagrees.

“Any good physician, I believe, should understand that his work is art as well as science. You might know what to do in any certain situation, but there’s an art of transmitting that to the patient, and you have to be creative. Without creativity, that would be just too clinical.”

The ophthalmologist joined the chorus and eventually met with the artistic director for the Taconic Opera, Dan Montez, about eight or 10 years ago. Since then, he estimated he’s been in 15 or 16 shows.

Glassman credited Montez and all the other participants in the show, including the conductor, for an ability to transform what is mostly an unprofessional opera chorus into an exquisitely sounding group of singers.

When he was younger, and attending school in Brooklyn, Glassman said, he visited the Metropolitan Opera and realized his interest in music. In college he DJ’d for the opera and learned the music and parts, and years later was able to become part of it.

Glassman, who has lived in Yorktown since 1973, studied at the University of Pennsylvania and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and took an intensive course at Bellevue Hospital Center just in internal medicine, all the while knowing he was interested in the eye as part of the whole body.

“I wanted to do something that combined surgery and medicine, where I could speak to people face to face and care for them, and hopefully improve their life,” Glassman said.

Examining just one portion of the bigger picture is also what drew Glassman to opera out of all the different types of music.

“I sometimes analogize it to a beautiful picture of Monet's. You have all these colors, and if you were missing one color the picture wouldn’t be beautiful. It doesn’t have to be a lot of color, just a little,” he said. “And if I can be part of that little color, why not?”

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