Friday, February 26, 2010

Miss Italia USA – New York Selection

On February 20th, NYC’s Marquee Club was the scene for the Miss Italia USA– NY Selection Beauty Pageant. Collaborating on the event for the second time was Commissione Giovani New York (CGNY- Young Italians NY) and The Sunday NYC. The five finalists chosen here will continue to Connecticut in April for the Miss Italia USA competition, where the winner will represent the USA at the Miss Italia Nel Mondo (Miss Italy – World) Pageant in Jesolo, near Venice, in June.

The five finalists chosen on February 20th are Johanna Sambucini (Miss Italian/American Digital Project, i-Italy), Margherita Medici (Miss Birra Moretti), Ligeia Moltisanti (Miss Jolly Hotels), Syra Maroutti (Miss Piu’Tono) and Melissa Fiore (Miss Hector Boots).

Our hosts for the evening were Rossella Rago, star of the popular web-series, Cooking with Nonna, and Graziano Casale, President of CGNY. Both Rago and Casale were warm, relaxed and full of fun, even though dressed in formal wear. Rago let her wry personality show through and it was a breath of fresh air (“How can you tell their personalities while they’re wearing bathing suits?”). Casale seemed right at home on stage and is a natural entertainer. He even sang Ti Adoro, a duet with tenor Christoper Macchio, just to add to the fun (more about Christopher below).

Speaking of singing, the musical entertainment for this event was well chosen. The singers took to the stage when the contestants needed time to change into their next scheduled costume. The first singer was Gio Moretti (, and she was outstanding with an impressive range. A popular vocalist in Northern Italy, she was a finalist at San Remo-Giovani Festival and the Castrocaro Terme Festival. Born and raised in Martinengo, not far from Bergamo in the Lombardy region, she was a featured singer for three years on the popular Italian TV program, Incontri. Moretti lived in Boston and then Brazil to expand her musical horizons. Perhaps her most notable collaboration to date is her work with the Brazilian group Batacoto. Their latest CD, Batacoto 3, features Moretti’s voice and oboe and in 2004 was nominated for Brazil’s equivalent of a Grammy Award. Moretti has just completed a solo CD, Animacustica.

Christopher Macchio (, an Italian-American tenor from Long Island was next to perform. Macchio has a commanding stage presence and masterful voice, reflecting the classical vocal training begun when he was only 15 years old. Mario Lanza is one of his operatic role models, and Macchio seeks to emulate some of Lanza’s unique performance style. Macchio has performed for many politicians and dignitaries, including a US Vice President, the Ambassador to the United Nations and former NYC mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Currently working with Grammy-award winning producer Tony Camillo, Macchio expects to release his debut CD in March, 2010.

Rounding out the evening’s musical entertainment was Simona D. (www.myspace/princessim). She performed several R&B tunes for us with an ease and professionalism beyond her years. Born in Wisconsin, she lived in many countries including Italy, France and England and always brought her music with her. She is an accomplished singer/songwriter who has also won multiple awards as a cellist. While in Italy she participated in various musical projects and focused on her passion for gospel, soul and R&B. She has performed with Steve Winwood and Brad Hatfield, among others.

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