Arts & Leisure

Folklorists Jean Parisi and Lionel Bottari

Go back in your Italian ancestry — back beyond your childhood and those of your parents and grandparents. Go back to a time before Italy, before the Roman Empire, even. Now, imagine some ancient Etruscan mystic fashioning a goddess invoked in a magic spell to chase away bad luck. She is probably some 2,700 years old. No wonder she shows her age today. We know this ancient, benevolent presence today as La Befana, Italy’s good Christmas witch. And a pair of Fra Noi veterans who’ve contributed to our magazine since the 1980s now keep her memory alive: Lionel Bottari and …

Read More »

Weekend rocker Carlo Caprio

Carlo Caprio would certainly forgive you if you thought his rock band’s name was Scivoloso Quando Bagnato. After all, that’s how Slippery When Wet translates into Italian. And the Oak Lawn native Ñ aside from being a formidable frontman and lead singer Ñ is also a first-generation Italian American who speaks the mother tongue with a Napoletano twist. Aside from his immediate kin, “Most of my family still lives in Italia,” says Caprio, who turned 41 in November. “Growing up in an Italian household was a great influence, just knowing my parents came to America from another country. I remember …

Read More »

Playwright Paul Barile

Paul Barile has so many talents you need a smartphone app to track them. He can dish a blues guitar licks one minute, and dish dirt on Italian beef sandwiches via his culinary blog the next. And when he’s writing poetry, or acting, or getting ready to release a new novel, he’s a playwright who tackles the stage like no other. “I feel blessed to be able to do this — to do all of what I do,” says Barile, 50, a Berwyn native who lives on Chicago’s Southwest Side. “Having a strong and loving Italian family was instrumental in …

Read More »

Actress Paula Scrofano

For Jeff-award winning actress Paula Scrofano, the journey to accomplished actress began from childhood; growing up in the Cleveland area, she was surrounded by art, music and the magic of Italian culture — which explains how she learned at least a dozen songs in Italian by her high school years. The daughter of a Sicilian father (from the town of Augusta) and a Czech-Hungarian mother, the Riverside, Ill. resident stars as Frau Schmidt in “The Sound of Music.” This Chicago-area production of the award-winning Rodgers and Hammerstein musical runs through Jan. 8, 2013 — you read correctly, 2013 — at …

Read More »

Soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine

Opera owes much to Italian culture, but you might be hard pressed to find young, talented Italian Americans carrying the torch in large numbers these days. So it’s a good thing soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine has stepped up. At the tender age of 33, she’s turning heads for her work with the Sante Fe Opera, the Chicago Opera Theater and the Utah Opera — where Opera News praised her portrayal of Susanna in “Le Nozze di Figaro” as “light, flexible and vibrant — well suited to the part of a scheming maid and romantic ing?nue.” “I was extremely fortunate to grow …

Read More »

Drummer Dan Leali

There’s a long tradition of great Italian rock drummers, from Dick Boccelli (Bill Haley and the Comets) to Carmine Appice (Rod Stewart) and Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa). That’s the old guard; make way for the new: Chicago’s Dan Leali has performed with everyone from Grammy-nominated artist Peter Himmelman to jazz-funk group Liquid Soul (with whom he shared a Grammy nomination for the 2000 recording “Here’s the Deal”). And if you’ve seen Leali play, look out: Here’s a guy who does it all, from sweet finesse timekeeping to powerhouse throb to demolish a brick wall. “My older sister had had a …

Read More »

Writer Debbie Di Verde

Chicago native Debbie Ippolito Di Verde, who now resides in Antioch, definitely has much going on in many facets of the arts. Whether she’s appearing in national commercials, working on her first young adult novel, or completing a master’s degree, she’s found myriad ways to grow and express herself — even as she hones her various ambitions. Di Verde has Sicilian roots on her father’s side, from the town of Santa Catarina Villarmosa. (Her mother is of Polish heritage.) Her grandparents came through Ellis Island, and soon thereafter moved to Taylor and Loomis in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood. “Many of …

Read More »

Cutting-edge director Thom Pasculli

It’s a big deal to have your new work premiere at the Steppenwolf Theater. Then again, Walkabout Theater Company’s Thom Pasculli has ambition and talent that set the stage for big things. As director of “The Wild,” he’s fashioned an experimental production you must see to appreciate. Inspired by the work of playwright Charles Mee and Walkabout’s physical training practices, “The Wild” is the world premiere of a devised laboratory theater performance that confronts distant realities and their infringement on our daily lives. But it moves, too, incorporates erotic dance and the dealings of seductive demi-gods as they encroach on …

Read More »

Violin virtuoso Joseph Genualdi

His mother played piano, his father the bass — yet Joseph Genualdi always knew he’d blaze his own trail as a violinist. The incendiary moment dates to age 5, when his parents took him to one of his first concerts. The artists, repertoire and location escape him. Yet Genualdi (who paternal family hails from Altavilla Milicia, Sicily) remembers how the violinist left an imprint that, half a century later, still hasn’t faded. “After the concert I said to my parents, ‘I want to play violin, I want to play violin,'” recalls Genualdi, now 59 and a professor at the University …

Read More »

Want More?

Subscribe to our print magazine
or give it as a gift.

Click here for details