by Joanne Spata
Casa Italia jump-started the month of March with a magnificent Italian Cabaret Night. It was an amazing evening of glorious music, excellent company and good food. Entertainment was provided by Main Street Opera, which put on a spectacular show featuring 20 of the best arias and traditional songs to which Italy has ever given birth.
Soprano Victoria Hollad, mezzo-soprano Amanda Runge, tenor Benjamin De Los Monteros, bass-baritone Chadley Ballantyne and music director Jason Carson gave rousing performances that earned a standing ovation, with shouts of “Bravo!” echoing through the Chandelier Room.
In my favorite number, “Nessun dorma” by Giacomo Puccini, the tenor begins his aria by singing “None will sleep.” This could not be a more accurate description of life at Casa Italia; where the action is almost non-stop.
Last month alone found us welcoming two new Italian-American organizations into the fold of those meeting at the Casa.
We saw record-breaking numbers attend our Spring Italian Film Festival, featuring four local premieres of critically acclaimed films of 2013 straight from Italy, The film series was spearheaded by Josette Mentesana Weber and introduced by Professor Dominic Candeloro, with discussion lead by Professor Gino Impellizziri.
Our Painting with Acrylic and Oils and Clay Modeling and Sculpture classes, as taught by Maestro Vincent Coppola, were filled to capacity with budding artists.
Our Genealogy Department, headed by Jennifer Holik, truly took root and provided valuable insight to those seeking information on their lineage. Her presentation titled “Finishing the Story,” a resource to learn how to keep and share the memory of soldiers who did not return, was most warmly received.
And our Regional Italian Cooking Classes, led by Giovanna Dimetros and her team, have taught people just like you how to create meals that rival those served at the great restaurants of Italy.
Speaking of great restaurants, last month also marked the grand opening of our new restaurant at Casa Italia, Nonna Graziella’s Cuccina Italiana. Open Wednesday through Sunday, Nonna Graziella is open for lunch, dinner, pizza, dolci and caffè. Of course, Italian wine and beer are available. Arrangements can also be made for large groups and catering to accommodate meetings and private parties.
The beautifully remodeled banquet center is a feast for both your eyes and your taste buds. The dining room is aglow with a wood-burning pizza oven positioned for all to see, allowing you to taste the difference that only the old-world way of making a pizza can only make. The food is truly authentic Italian and delizioso, as prepared by our Italian born chefs. Come and taste the magic!
This month, we will also see the return of one of Casa Italia’s most exciting events, our Italian Language and Culture Summer Camp for Children. Yes, from June 17 through July 12, your children can immerse themselves in both fun and education. This four-week extravaganza is a great way to introduce your children to the history, heritage and language of their ancestors. There is still time to contact the Casa Italia office or visit our website for details and fee information. But we fill up fast, so please hurry!
If you missed our spectacular Cabaret Night, don’t fret. Main Street Opera will be back on June 7 with a rousing performance of Puccini’s ever-popular “Tosca.” This beloved opera will be performed under the pavilion in concert style. The evening will be accompanied by a delicious family-style dinner prepared by the Italian-born chefs of Nonna Graziella’s Cucina Italiana. This will truly be a night to remember.
You can order your tickets for $50 in advance or $60 at the door by calling 708-345-5933 or visiting www.casaitaliachicago.org. We look forward to seeing you!