A day at the opera at Casa Italia

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Casa Italia volunteer and archivist Barbara Stasell has created an opera display in the first-floor library room in the Italian Cultural Center at the Casa. The figurines were created by Nora (“Norie”) Kalka, a local ceramicist who learned the craft during a short sojourn in California in the late 1940s.

Back home in Chicago, Kalka hoped to continue her work, but the equipment and materials were only available at the time from suppliers on the West Coast. Buying them there and shipping them east, she set up her shop and developed her skills, making many gracefully imaginative pieces.

“An interest in opera opened a new avenue of creative exploration,” Stasell says. “The figurines in the display were created between 1963 and 1966, and represent her talent and dedication at combining two inspiring art forms.”

Stasell added some librettos to the display case that are part of the library archives and also included some operatic images. The figurines in the display were donated to the library by Nora’s daughter, Myrtis Kalka.

In other news, the library is accepting submissions for the second volume of “Italian Women in Chicago.” Articles must be submitted by Columbus Day. For more information, contact Dominic Candeloro at 847-951-9109 or dominic.candeloro@gmail.com.


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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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