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Patricia H. Yannello, soprano in Bel-Canto Quartet

Jan. 3, 1925 – Feb. 23, 2015

Patricia H. Yannello of Tonawanda died Monday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. She was 90.

Born in New Bethlehem, Pa., and raised in Smethport, the former Patricia H. Hileman moved to Buffalo in the early 1940s to attend SUNY at Buffalo, where she majored in voice and appeared in leading roles with the UB Opera Theatre. Her soprano voice filled the concert hall in her many appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Clarence Orchestra and the Orchard Park and Amherst Symphonies. Her repertoire included more than 40 roles in opera, oratorio and musical comedy.

In 1980 she became an adjunct professor at Niagara University, teaching voice and music theory. Still performing during the 1982-83 season at the Niagara University Theatre, she played the mother in a production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” She retired from teaching in 2004.

In 1959, Mrs. Yannello became a founding member of the Bel-Canto Quartet, a widely known foursome who originated Cafe Opera, entertaining Western New Yorkers for more than 20 years.

Local restaurateur Hugo DiGiulio encouraged Clinton Barry, a tenor, and Mary Grace Gore, a mezzo-soprano, to build a quartet to entertain patrons of his restaurant . With the addition of Robert Caple, a baritone, and Mrs. Yannello, the Bel-Canto was born. They performed unique supper club entertainment, mixing opera and Broadway favorites at many local restaurants. The Bel-Cantos also performed with the Philharmonic.

Mrs. Yannello appeared as a soloist with local choral groups, including Schola Cantorum, the St. Paul’s Boy’s Choir, Kenmore Presbyterian Choir, Kenmore Methodist Choir, Paderewski Singing Society and Kalina Singing Society. She sang for the Chromatic Club and the Bach Connection, and for more than 20 years she was the soprano soloist for Temple Beth Zion and Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Her husband of 40 years, Vincent Yannello, died in 1992.

Survivors include a daughter, Heather; two sons, retired U.S. Army Maj. Raymond Yannello and retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. David Yannello; a sister, Virginia Sprenkle; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Francis of Assisi Church, 150 Broad St., Tonawanda.

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