Music Notes: Viva Italia: A multi-course celebration in honor of Verdi

Written by Anne Ierardi

Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi
Illustration by Anne Ierardi

“Chatham mist” will be dispelled by warmth of Italy

You may have the universe if I may have Italy. – Giuseppe Verdi

A few years ago in our antique home my spouse and I redesigned our kitchen around a single medieval-style tile of men baking polenta, the white and blue kitchen walls are now tomato-red and warm yellow colors, and our neglected English garden became a Tuscan courtyard with St. Francis in a vegetable garden. I hear the voice of my grandfather “Pa” Verrochi chiding my parents, “Why are you planting flowers? You can’t eat them!”

If I can’t physically be in Italy, I desire to bring my soul and imagination there. On Sunday, April 28,Cape Cod will have the opportunity to be warmed, serenaded, and romanced by Viva Italia! in celebrating Italian vocal and instrumental music with compositions by Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, Mascagni, Scarlatti, and Tosti. Sponsored by the Chatham Music Club, in honor of Giuseppe Verdi’s bicentennial, the concert will be at 3 p.m. in the Chatham Congregational Church.

I had the pleasure of speaking with two of the performers and members of the Chatham Music Club: Barbara Reed and Carole Buttner Maloof about the concert. They say the scope of the concert is, as one put it, “incredible,” highlighting the professional quality and diverse musical talent we are privileged to appreciate on Cape Cod. Indeed, all the performers are connected to the Cape. Art MacManus, a well-known pianist and opera-coach is director and accompanist for this performance. Operatic choruses include The Easter Chorus from Cavalleria Rusticana, “Casta diva” and cavatina from Norma, the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore, and “Va Pensiero” from Nabucco.

Vocalist soloists include Christopher Allen, Bonnie Brenner, Alan Brooks, Leslie Loosli, Carole Buttner Maloof, Barbara Reed, Helen Guilet Smith, Diana Toscano, Ashley Wade and Kathy Wimberly. Alan Brooks will be performing “Di Provenza” from La Traviata. Ashley Wade, a beautiful young mezzo-soprano and graduate of Harwich High School, is singing “Stride La Vampa” from Il Trovatore.

Leslie Loosli, an amazing performer, will sing “Vissi D’Arte” from Puccini. I met Leslie two years ago when I took her vocal class at ALL (Academy of Life-Long Learning). Her vivacity and love of song inspired our group to sing together with confidence and gusto while preparing our minds to relax and focus. During our last class, we invited our friends to come hear us sing. When I need healing energy riding in my car, I play Brigadoon’s “Heather on the Hill.” recalling our class with Leslie.

When I was growing up in Boston my brother Johnny worked in the music business, as we called it in those days. He often brought home people from diverse backgrounds, sometimes not giving my mother a lot of notice, for an Italian dinner. We always delighted in watching the faces of his guests when yet another dish was brought to the table from my mother: homemade cavatelli, eggplant parmagiana, veal cutlets, a big salad, and assorted Italian pastries.

Just when you think you are full, we have the chamber trio: Christian Holleck on cello, Gabriella Ramsauer on recorder, and Rodney Shuyler on piano. And organist Julian Petrallia and pianists Anne Francouise Perrault, Lucy Banner and Arthur MacManus. An exciting four-hands piano operatic overture is planned.” As my mother would say to our guests, “make some room” for the next course.

Established in 1999, The Chatham Music Club’s mission is to promote appreciation of classical music through performance and education. The club began meeting in members’ homes, listening to and performing classical music. It developed into a nonprofit organization to bring classical music to everyone and support music education especially for young people. All proceeds from their concerts go to a scholarship fund.

A $2,500 scholarship will be given to an accomplished music student. The competition will take place on Oct. 19 at the First Congregational Church in Chatham and is open to vocal and instrumental classical music students, ages 14 to 21, who are Cape residents or are studying with a music teacher on Cape Cod.

And the last course on Sunday? A complimentary sweet and savory reception follows the concert.

Ah…La Dolce Vita!

Viva Italia, Sunday, April 28, at 3 p.m. at the Chatham Congregational Church, Main Street at the downtown rotary. Tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door or by calling Ann Lieber (508-398-8811). Children under 12 are admitted free

Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot.

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