Keeping the flame alive
Andrea Falcone is a musician on a mission. He seeks neither fame nor fortune. Instead, he and the fellow members of La Tosca Italian Mambo Ensemble are dedicated to performing and preserving the folk music of Italy. Featuring master accordion, violin, mandolin, stand-up bass and guitar players, the group is co-led by Falcone’s wife, Stephanie Pielok. “We perform a repertoire from the 1850s to the 1950s: tarantella, pizzica and tammurriata from Italy but also tango, fox trot, mazurka, and the music of the Romany, including gypsy jazz,” says Falcone, a native of Milan. La Tosca will perform at Hexe Coffee Co. in Chicago every Thursday and Pizza Metro in Chicago every Saturday in February and March. For more, click here.
Quite the combination
No one can accuse baritone saxophonist Jimmy Farace of resting on his laurels. The 26-year-old frontman of the recently formed jazz ensemble Trio Profondo will take to the stage at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at Space in Evanston to perform an entire show featuring music that he composed. Based on Henry van Dyke’s poem “For Katrina’s Sundial,” the 10 compositions are bound together “by themes of nostalgia and the passage of time,” Farace says. The show will feature Farace’s velvety baritone sax backed by the distinctive combination of a jazz rhythm section and a string quartet. Joining Farace on stage will be pianist Julius Tucker, drummer Dana Hall, Grammy Award-winning bassist Clark Sommers and the KAIA string quartet. For more, click here.
Declaration of love
“Can being together in the beauty of music, good humor, and great food be the key to a better world?” That’s the question that acoustic guitarist, songwriter, producer and educator Beppe Gambetta will try to answer in his upcoming concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music. A native of Genoa, Gambetta has brought back forgotten artists, popularized and reinvented folk guitar techniques, and written and performed songs for an adoring international audience. His OTSOFM show will start at 8 p.m. on Feb. 21. The suggest donation is $10; reservations are a must. For more, click here.
Tiger by the tail
The Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, in collaboration with the Logan Center for the Arts and the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, will present a screening of the silent film “Tigre reale,” with a live performance by Italian musicians Stefano Maccagno (piano) and Furio Di Castri (double bass).
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the Logan Center, with the screening and concert starting at 7 p.m. The film will be shown with Italian intertitles and English subtitles.
Directed by Giovanni Pastrone, the 1916 film tells the torrid tale of a married Russian countess who has an affair with an Italian diplomat. After telling him about a past affair that led to the death of her former lover, she abandons him and lures him back in, with certain doom seeming to await them both. The musical score, composed by Di Castri, combines jazz and classical in ways that emphasize the films dramatic tension and echo its romantic ebb and flow.
Admission is free with registration. For more, click here.
An opera lover’s delight
The Opera Festival of Chicago will unveil its 2024 season with a concert on Feb. 24. Dubbed “The Voice of Love,” the fundraising event will be staged at the Atheneum Theater in Chicago. Selections from Italian operas will be performed by Artistic Director Franco Pomponi, Music Director Emanuele Andrizzi and festival artists. The donation is $250 per person, with proceeds benefiting Opera Festival of Chicago. The event will feature live and silent auctions. For more, click here.
The Lyric Opera of Chicago will stage Verdi’s tragic masterpiece “Aida” from March 9 to April 7. Aida, a captive princess, and Radamès, an army general, are in love, but Radames is also loved by Amneris, a princess from his own country. Aida feels torn between her love for Radames and her loyalty to her father, King Amonasro, and her home nation. When Radames’s army wins its battle, Amonasro is taken prisoner, setting in motion the disastrous events that overtake him, Aida, and Radames. Michelle Bradley and Russell Thomas will be reunited as Aida and Radamès after wowing audiences in the Lyric’s recent production of “Tosca” while Lyric favorite Jamie Barton will perform the role of Amneris. The production will be conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola, directed by Franceseca Zambello and choreographed by the renowned Jessica Lange. For tickets, click here.
Celebrated for sensual marble sculptures that represented a new approach to classical idealism, Antonio Canova (1757-1822) was the preeminent European artist of his time. At the center of his sculpting process were extraordinary modern clay models that reveal Canova’s highly imaginative and technical process. “Canova: Sketching in Clay,” the first exhibition in more than 50 years to focus on these terra cottas, will be on display at the Art Institute of Chicago through March 18, 2024. For more, click here.