Monday, November 30, 2009
Cristina Fontanelli Shines in Christmas In Italy Concert
Cristina Fontanelli poses with actor Tony Lo Bianco after the concert.
Cristina Fontanelli brought her sixth annual celebration to NYC’s Merkin Concert Hall on Sunday, November 29, 2009. And what a celebration it was! Fontanelli’s operatic soprano soared through a thoughtful selection of Italian-composed arias, Neapolitan folk songs and Christmas classics.
Her opera selections included Musetta’s Waltz from La Boheme and Un Bel Di from Madame Butterfly (both Puccini masterpieces). She was beautifully accompanied on piano by Maestro David Maiullo. He is the Music Director/Accompanist of the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation and has performed in Carnegie, Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls.
She also presented more popular songs, such as Chitarra Romana, Torn’a Surriento and Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro’). Joining her onstage was acclaimed composer and guitar and mandolin virtuoso John T. LaBarbera. His fluid style and deep understanding of Italian rhythms brought an essential dimension to these arrangements.
To close the show, she brought out the Montfort Academy Choir for Gesu Bambino. Montfort Academy is a small private school in Katonah NY that is close to Fontanelli’s heart for its emphasis on classical studies and moral development.
Fontanelli had a warm, down-to-earth stage persona that kept the audience on her side throughout. Between each selection, she told the story behind the song; why it was special to her and reciting the English lyrics so the non-Italian speakers could appreciate them more fully. She also shared her dream of someday singing with Andrea Bocelli and asked us all to say a Novena for her that it comes true! It was this warm, open style that drew the audience closer to her and to each other.