Joshua Kohl has a kind smile and a frank manner. His wife, Sarah Asmar, has a generous smile, a warm energy and a playful sense of humor. It’s a pleasure to interview the vivacious couple and I am intrigued by their backstory: Sarah and Josh were introduced to each other by a mutual friend named Maria D’Amato who happens to be performing the role of Desdemona in Otello. Maria’s boyfriend Dimitrie Lazich will be performing the role of Morales, and Josh notes that he and Dimitrie used to eat lunch together at school.
I’ve noticed a recurring theme during these interviews of a Kevin Bacon-like thread of connections—a six degrees of seperation for the opera set that puts one in mind of summer camp or traveling minstrels—and I find myself longing to be a part of this club of creative and interesting people. I will be attending the performance of Lucia di Lammermoor and I am looking forward to seeing Josh play the gallant Edgardo who romances the heroine but does not live happily ever after. I am also excited to listen to Sarah’s voice as she plays Frasquita in Carmen, using the voice that was hailed as a “crystalline soprano” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Dining Diva: Where are you from?
Joshua Kohl: From Wyomissing, Pa.
Sarah Asmar: From Simsbury, Conn.
DD: Where do you live now and how long have you been married?
JK: We live In Tarriffville, Conn. and have been married for six and a half years.
DD: Do you come to this area often?
JK: My parents live in Parrish and we love to go to Ellenton Outlet Mall, and my brother is a chef at Disney World.
DD: Do you often get to travel together for work?
SA: Not often, but it is a bonus when we get to sing together in the same venue.
DD: Do you like to cook together?
SA: I am one half Lebanese and I love to cook at home. We hosted Thanksgiving this year and that was really fun.
JK: We made a lot of stuffing. Lots of different stuffing.
DD: What kind of food do you like when you go out?
JK: We like pizza and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and a frequent haunt at home is The Mill at 2t, which is owned by a husband and wife team who encourage home cooks to come and sit at the open-plan kitchen and experience the food with the chef and his wife.
DD: Where would you like to travel that you have not yet been?
SA: South America and Malaysia.
JK: France, Italy and Germany.
DD: What is your favorite kind of music?
JK: It’s an obvious answer, but I love The Beatles, Band on the Run [Paul McCartney & Wings] and Gene Pitney, an emotional crooner from the ’60s.
SA: I really enjoy the oldies, Leslie Gore, “Son of a Preacher Man” and the Dixie Chicks.
DD: What do you like about Sarasota?
JK: I love Sarasota because I get to work with my wife. (Loud “awwww” from the audience.)
Both: It’s near the water, there’s great shopping and it’s 40 minutes from [Josh's] parents. We like to run Ringling Bridge together too.
DD: Where do you like to eat in Sarasota?