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Lyric Opera hires new music director

Eminent Italian conductor Enrique Mazzola has been named as Lyric Opera’s music director designate and will become Lyric’s music director beginning with the 2021-’22 season. The transition will be overseen by the Lyric’s acclaimed and beloved music director Sir Andrew Davis, who plans on concluding his two-decade-long tenure at the end of the 2020-’21 season. “I am thrilled that Enrique Mazzola has accepted Lyric’s invitation to become our next music director,” Lyric CEO Anthony Freud says. “He has accrued a wealth of international experience in his career to date, and he is tremendously well liked and respected by the Lyric ...

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Cabaret queen Marieann Meringolo

The mere mention of New York City, Broadway and cabaret conjures a world of glitz, entertainment and glamor. Perhaps that’s why, despite the ascent of digital forms of entertainment, the cabaret tradition has continued to thrive in what Frank Sinatra so proudly sang about as the “city that doesn’t sleep.” As much as anyone, Marieann Meringolo represents this intimate art form. Meringolo’s name has appeared on the marquee at countless NYC venues, including the Friars Club, the Rainbow Room, Feinstein’s/54 Below, the Hammerstein Ballroom and Central Park’s Tavern on the Green. Her vocal talents are often compared to another Big ...

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Singer Cory Bolletino

Growing up blind and with a variety of medical conditions, 27-year-old Cory Bolletino of Mount Prospect attended mainly special needs schools, and occasionally had to sit out of school for medical reasons. He didn’t have much of a chance to make childhood friends, he says, so his world centered around his mother Veronica, father Rick, and music. “The way I used to relax was through music. Music was my best friend,” says Bolletino. “It will always be my best friend.” He has spent years listening to singers like Andrea Bocelli, Julio Iglesias, Marco Antonio Solis and Camilo Sesto, and likes ...

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Treasure in our own backyard

  Nobody puts on a show quite like an Italian. And when the showman is Riccardo Muti, leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a concert of Italian opera masterworks, you know you’re in for a treat. My wife and I leapt at the opportunity to attend after learning about the program in the June installment of Artbeat. But mere words on paper couldn’t possibly prepare us for the operatic thrill ride to come. Our seats were on the fringe of the first balcony, where it hovers above the left side of the stage. From that vantage point, we ...

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Fiasche family spreads the word about nduja

In only three years, Antonio “Tony” Fiasche has led the effort to pluck nduja, a spreadable salume, from the obscurity of a small Calabrian town and make it something of a sensation in the gourmet world. The Wall Street Journal and foodie magazines have been salivating over it, and chefs worldwide are inventing ways to use it in pizza, vinaigrette, aioli, arrabiata, marinara, hollandaise and more. The skyrocketing acclaim of Fiasche’s company, Nduja Artisans, has engendered plans to open a gourmet deli just west of the Loop in the near future. But like many success stories, Fiasche’s began decades earlier. ...

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Celebrity chef Paul Sorvino

Paul Sorvino is a true Renaissance man. Best known for his acting in film and television, he also is an accomplished sculptor and opera singer, as well as a writer and businessman. And now, he is the author along with his wife Dee Dee of a new cookbook that may be the beginning of his re-emergence into the food industry. In Sorvino’s mind, it’s just another outlet for him as an artist and as an Italian American. “Cooking is an art. The way we do it it’s an art. It’s an art and the results are almost immediate,” Sorvino says. ...

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Accordionist Sam Franco

“I’ve still got all my chords memorized. Let me show you.” Sam Franco takes a moment to collect himself before rising from his easy chair. At 92, he doesn’t move quite as quickly as he used to, but he takes a few slow, smiling steps to his right. He bends over to the flip the switch on and old amplifier, and then sits down at a synthesizer keyboard. “Don’t even ask me what I’m playing,” he says. And he begins. Franco’s playing is slow and measured, in the same vein of his approach to the accordion, his one true musical ...

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Rodi sings from his Italian heart

From arias and symphonies to Neapolitan streets songs and pop, Italian music cannot be categorized by style or genre. But if there is one word that sums up centuries of musical creativity, Robert Rodi may have found it: crescendo. In honor of this, Rodi has created a multi-genre musical production titled ’O sole mio. Based entirely on Italian music, it combines classical melodies such as “Core ‘ngrato,” “’O sole mio” and “Caro mio ben” and more modern favorites like “Al di la,” “lo che non vivo” and “Volare” with modern Italian pop like “Ancora, ancora, ancora.” These songs touch on ...

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Fantasia stands the test of time

  Imagine 40 years of launching “just marrieds” into their first moments together as husband and wife. If nothing else, that’s enough performances of the Chicken Dance, Macarena and “Daddy’s Little Girl” to fill several hundred wedding albums full of musical memories. But it’s also a story of steadfast devotion and true adoration among Chicagoland’s Italian-American families. For since their first wedding gig at Mr. Duke’s Villa DiDomenico Banquets in Wood Dale, bandleader Frank Trimble (guitar, vocals) and his younger sister Gina Frasca (keyboards, vocals) have turned their musical talents into several generations of celebrations. Today they’re the core of ...

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Four C Notes founder John Michael Coppola

The music of The Four Seasons — even as it enthralled a new generation of fans through the hit musical “Jersey Boys” — also marks a point of pride for Italian Americans, as the group’s original lineup boasts Italian roots through and through. There’s just one problem, though: When “Jersey Boys” ended its wildly successful Chicago run, demand to hear energetic performances didn’t end with it. How appropriate, then, that a “Jersey Boys” veteran has risen up to carry the musical torch. In fact, John Michael Coppola had the role of Frankie Valli down cold during a run of more ...

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