“The People’s Tenor” Who’s The “Prince Of The High Cs”. An Exclusive Interview With Michael Amante [L’IDEA Magazine]

“The People’s Tenor” who’s the “Prince of the High Cs”. An exclusive interview with Michael Amante.

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena
Michael Amante was ranked the number one selling Classical Artist in Billboard Magazine 2001-2002, nominated for regional Emmy Award for Self-titled PBS Special, recipient of the State of New York Governor’s Award for Excellence, guest radio host WICC in Bridgeport CT, featured Artist on major networks including ABC, PBS, NBC, CBS, TBN, FOX, The Food Channel and other national affiliates, and performed in a host of the nation’s most distinguished and recognized performing arts venues, casinos and establishments including Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Additionally, some of his recipes were published in PASTA magazine, as a living proof that the Italian roots in him are alive and strong. He has appeared in many TV movies and musical., Illustrating, drawing, photography have been passions of his as far back as he could remember, and in June of 2018, Michael had his first gallery premiere and showing of selected photographs and graphic designs at the Bilotta Gallery in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. What other activities does he have? We thought that an interview would answer that question for us, so we contacted him and sat down for a pleasant conversation….
L’IDEA:  Michael, at what age and how did you start being in the singing business?
Michael Amante:  I think that when the doctor delivering me gave me a whack, I started singing instead of wailing. There have been milestones however. The first was when I was six and the good sisters of St. Ann’s Catholic School were looking for a boy to sing the role of “Oliver” in a live recording they were producing. Music was already playing a role in my life as I loved listening to classical masterpieces at home. Also, my father sang around the house. Needless to say, they found their singer.  Then while in high school, I started singing in area rock bands, then regional theatre, local radio commercials, and solos for church services. It was in a church that a musical director by the name of Warren Ottey first recognized my pipes were well suited for Opera. Plus singing in Italian seemed like a good way to attract women.

L’IDEA: Why do they call you “the People’s Tenor”?
Michael Amante:  It’s hard to determine why the media likes to label you as this or that but I believe that it’s because I did not come up through the ranks of Julliard or a major music conservatory. I sing everywhere and for anyone. God gave me the equipment and the desire to “make a joyful noise” and I worked hard to make the best and loudest sound possible.

L’IDEA: With opera names such as Pavarotti and Corelli giving you and your voice high praise, and having been nominated by Billboard Magazine as the number one classical artist in 2002, what made you decide to become a “crossover singer” and not stick to opera and classical music alone?
Michael Amante:  I would have to say that I have always been a cross-over singer. There were those individuals, like Franco Corelli, who wanted me to sing nothing but classical and opera, but the “damage” was already done growing up listening to 70’s and 80’s bands like Foreigner, Journey, Styx, Kansas and many others. I thought that as long as I was using proper technique and not straining my cords, I could pretty much sing whatever I wanted. Opera, Gospel, Broadway, Standards and Rock were all in my wheelhouse.

L’IDEA: You also appeared in many TV movies (too many to mention). Do you feel more comfortable in the singing role or in the acting one? Will you continue your acting career? (Please mention whether there is something going on with that; a film, theater, etc.…)
Michael Amante:  Singing is something that I am completely confident doing. Acting, especially for Musical Theater, is another art form that I truly enjoy. I don’t get as many opportunities to do a whole lot of that while living in Florida. However, not too long ago I was cast in a lead role as “The American” in the musical CHESS for an equity theatre in Naples, FL. I imagine that I will do much more live stage work as my three children get older and become more independent.

L’IDEA: You received an Emmy Award nomination for your television special. What was the program about? Do you have any other similar projects in the making? Any new recordings?
Michael Amante: The PBS special actually was born out of a concert in tribute to Frank Sinatra which, involved many other performers.  After I came onboard singing “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot and other Italian favorites, the focus kind of switched towards me. Producers who attended that concert approached me and asked me about doing a program for PBS and we started filming various locations soon after. The Emmy nomination took me by complete surprise. After filming, I just went on with my life without giving much thought that it was so well received. Subsequently, PBS had me jetting around the country in order to help them with pledge drive campaigns.
I am just now trying to get a new Christmas recording completed. I was hoping to get it all finished this season, but my friend and keyboard player developed a health crisis.  He’s better at this time but it did throw us off schedule and I would have been uncomfortable replacing him.

L’IDEA: The critics have spoken of you as “The Prince of the High C’s” What are they referring to, when they say that?
Michael Amante:  I suppose they are referring to my natural tenor high notes and the ease in which I can produce them. I have always been able to sing really high. Some other tenors work their way up from Baritone and Bari-tenor. A high C is pretty easy for me on any given day. On the days that my voice is really fluid, I can go up to “F” above high C, which is just ridiculous, and even though it’s just a few notes above, it’s miles away!

L’IDEA: What was the opera’s role that you loved the most to perform? Why?
Michael Amante:  My favorite operatic role is “Edgardo” from Donizetti’s “Lucia Di Lammermoor.” The music is so full of angst, torment and weight. It’s not an easy role to perform, but that’s what makes it so great. Some day I’d like to perform “Andrea Chénier” by Giordano, but that opera is not produced very often. If we’re talking Puccini, then “La Bohème” is the ticket – great music, especially for the tenor and soprano. It’s so full of passion and pain.

L’IDEA: You also performed in numerous musicals. Which one was the most significant performance for you and why?
Michael Amante: People really respond when I sing from “Phantom” but “West Side Story” will always have the deepest affect on me personally. The music is just genius and the first time I was cast as “Tony” I had the best experience. And my “Maria” was absolutely brilliant and amazing. Even the newspapers caught our excitement for the music and each other. Singing from that show still moves me after more than thirty years of singing it for the first time.

L’IDEA: You now formed a tribute band called Michael Amante’s Rock Opera. Could you tell us more about that?
Michael Amante: Well, it’s not just nostalgic for me. It takes me back to a time when I was much more carefree and had no real responsibilities other than hitting the high notes. So it’s almost like therapy for my soul. I’m singing all the tunes that were so important to me as a teenager. Luckily, I can still hit the notes! I just can’t stop myself from listening and singing that music. We might change the name to just AMANTE which, means lover in both Italian and Spanish. That covers the whole deal, I think.

L’IDEA: You also had an experience as a Tenured Crisis Intervention counsellor. What did that teach you? (Please talk about that job’s duties also)
Michael Amante: Yes, I worked for the Syracuse City School District for about ten years. Even though I taught at a number of different locations, I found that the children, many of whom had serious issues emotionally and sometimes physical ones, responded favorably to both music and art. Thankfully, I am skilled in both areas. I was largely responsible for engaging students who were “acting out” or had disruptive behaviors that needed to be managed and modified in order for them to return to class. I would sing to them and draw pictures of their favorite superhero or cartoon character to temporarily pull their attention away from what was upsetting them at the moment. Once I had their interest, I could talk to them about how they were feeling and chart a path back to their regular classroom. I provide that moment of relief for my audiences as well. It may be transitory, but it’s very necessary.

L’IDEA: How do you believe you can make a difference in today’s world?
Michael Amante: Life is often challenging and at times, downright hard. While the stresses of life affect people differently, it affects us all. Rich man, poor man, black, white or brown – we all have very similar needs, wants and desires. We all need a break, even for a moment, from the daily routine and struggles that all humans have in common. The music that I make is meant to encourage, uplift, energize and provide comfort for the listener. While it may not solve the world’s many issues or provide a lasting peace among the nations, it might just inspire someone or everyone to do just that. As I visual artist, I can create images that last as long as you have it in front of you. It’s a commodity, a product. Apart from recordings, music is ethereal. It’s a string of small moments temporarily suspended in time and space. If you are moved by a ringing high note or a particular phrase of melody, it’s here only for a moment, and then it’s gone.  But the memory of it can last a lifetime.

L’IDEA: How much do you believe being of Italian origins influenced you in your career choices? Do you have a message for our Italian American readers?
Michael Amante: Italians have strong family bonds, love music and art, and are passionate and passionately stubborn about life. These values have governed all of my decisions, relationships, my aspirations as well as my sorrows. Many culturally strong communities have this as well. My message to Italian Americans is to not let those cultural elements fade into nothingness or become meaningless. Learn to speak Italian, cook Italian recipes and study the history of music and art while supporting those who are doing their best to keep those vitalities alive. It’s up to them to maintain the importance of Opera, classical music, painting, sculpture, literature, etc. Without these things, we may as well be like something out of the Matrix films – living batteries for some other entity.

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How Paper And Color Can Make You Dream. Exclusive Interview With Artist Adele Rahte. [L’IDEA Magazine]

How paper and color can make you dream. Exclusive interview with artist Adele Rahte.

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

I met Adele Rahte at the beautiful Harlem house of a common friend, the soprano Lauren Flanigan. The conversation soon turned from music (we had just the fortune to have witnessed a unique performance of lyrics by Gabriele D’Annunzio put into music by various composers) to art and she promised to give me an interview so that our readers could learn more about her work. The time has come and here is the interview of this marvelous artist who can make you dream with paper and color.

L’IDEA: When did you realize you were going to be an artist?
Adele H Rahte: I was fortunate to have parents who valued my creative core. At the age of eight, I was being tutored in the different art mediums. I think I have always been an artist. For example, as a kid, if I did not have any paper to draw on, I would draw on the wall. I started with my current technique, which I call “painting with paper,” in 2001 using the mylar I had put up temporarily as a window treatment in my New York City apartment after Sept 11th.

L’IDEA: I detect a strong Impressionist influence in some of your work, and in particular in the seascapes and skyscapes. Do you feel your work has been influenced by various artists? Who? Who is (or are) the artist who you admire the most?
Adele H Rahte: Here in Manhattan I can drop into any of the museums, especially when I am having trouble conveying what I wish to depict. I must understand what I see before the viewer can understand it. The great masters in these museums are always available to teach me how to see and how to present. I find it crucial to my process to see as much art as possible.
The Masters who help me see clearly vary with the piece I am working on. For example, Van Gogh guided me in Do You See the Kite?. In Tribeca, Cézanne and Aboard the Uptown 6, it was Modigliani. My favorite art movements are Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Dada, and Suprematism.

At Nauset Beach

L’IDEAI also detected different stroke usage in various paintings of yours (seascapes/seascapes vs. portraits/flowers/urban landscapes). Could you elaborate on that?
Adele H Rahte: “Stroke usage” translates to direction and movement. It is a conscious manipulation, a trick of the eye. It provides the viewer with an understanding of what they are experiencing when they look at 2D art. Since I use paper and not paint, I achieve the “brush stroke concept” by taking advantage of the direction of the fibers or patterns in the paper. You can see examples of movement in my art in the following pieces: in the towel in At Nauset Beach, and in the people, water and clouds in Do You See the Kite?

Do you see the kite?

L’IDEADo you start with the concept of adding paper to a painting or is that something that arises in the creative process? (Some paintings seem to be 100% paint and some, instead, seem to be paint and some paper) Could you tell us what is the reason for using the paper in those paintings?
Adele H Rahte: My work is comprised of paper only, no paint. The fibers in the paper fragments meld together. Then the layering of paper fragments is how I control the subtle color differences or create a clear edge. I see the world comprised of blocks of colorful shapes. Using paper to create these shapes works for me because I can feel the paper and create the shapes by tearing or cutting the paper fragments into the exact shape my art requires – almost like a sculpture. The clear example of this is seen in Saturday at the Beach.

Laundry line

L’IDEAYou also create complex collages. Could you explain a bit the process involved and the artistic motivation behind this choice?
Adele H Rahte: There are endless moves when creating. Every single addition to the piece is living on the edge of life or death, failure or success. It is an amazing dance which is performed. When I am deep into the piece I am creating, I am removed from making art and the art piece itself takes over to the point where it feels to me that the piece is creating itself and I am simply applying the pre-chosen paper fragment. My hand selects the correct fragment from the growing pile of wonderfully colored and textured papers located on the shelf under the artwork I am working on. This scenario is repeated again and again until the piece feels finished. But when is it truly finished? I make a guess and say to myself “ok, now it is finished… well at least for the time being.” If time allows, I can put the piece away and then revisit it later with fresh eyes.

Saturday at the beach

L’IDEA: Do you feel that is the artist in you who influences your photography or is the photographer in you who influences your artwork?
Adele H Rahte: My art starts with reality. Somewhere in my minds’ eye, I ponder over a concept, getting preoccupied with it. I carry my camera with me and I then photograph what I need to have to reference. Then while creating the work perhaps years later I have the needed details to complete the piece. If the photograph happens to turn out to be special, then I share it. I did study photography in High School and then at University.

L’IDEA: How much and in what ways have your Italian roots influenced your art?
Adele H Rahte: I feel more connected to the Italian in me than the Alsacian. My relatives who came from Salerno taught me never to have idle hands. Instilled in me was the concept “there is always time to create, even if it exists in ten-minute segments.”

Aboard the Uptown 6

L’IDEA: Many writers, especially poets, find necessary to be in a particular mood, such as emotional distress, to create their work in an optimal manner. When you paint, how much does your mood influences the art piece’s outcome and in what emotional condition, if so, do you feel you are more creative?
Adele H Rahte: I know that creating my art wards off the cloud of depression I can fall prey to. I feel productive, artistic, unique and happy when I am creating. It is a special world of color, texture, and beauty. It is a vast and deep world — both solitary and educational.


L’IDEA: Are you planning any new exhibits in the near future? Any special project you working on?
Adele H Rahte: Now I am looking for exposure. My next step is to get the images of my art up onto sites to increase my exposure. My next art project is on Coney Island, Luna Park and the subway. Once completed, I will add them to my website for all to see. adelerahte.com

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Gilda’s Promise To The Pope Starts A Life Of Achievements. Book Review Of Gilda, Promise Me

By Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Gilda, Promise Me starts when she is 16 and meets the Pope… At his request, she makes a promise to learn Italian and never to forget her roots. All throughout the book, you can see how that promise keeps her going in the right direction. Gilda’s memoir is the story of a woman who thinks: “Why educate a woman and deny her full self-expression?”

Keeping that in mind, let’s examine a few of her achievements: she became an interpreter and from that a journalist, then a model, an actress of many movies, and all this in a foreign country speaking a foreign language.

She then chose to teach so as not to disappoint her parents who may have objected to a career in the movie world. Was she just a teacher? No, she went on to teach on TV, having an enormous success. But did she stop there? Certainly not. She traveled all over the world, learned other languages, brought help to Haiti, was in charge of desegregation in the schools of this area of New Jersey, became an Honorary Consul for the Italian government and then received the knighthood from Italy.

Did she ever stop? You know the answer: no. She is still active in her volunteering efforts and this year she received, along with her daughter Mary Rorro, New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Award, considered the highest honor in America for service and volunteerism.

But this memoir is not just an account of her achievements; it’s the story of her roots, two Italian American families, their dreams, their accomplishments, and their shared love for each other.
It’s the story of her own family, her unbounded love for her first husband and the tragedy of his untimely loss, her wonderful relationship with her children, the house they built.
It’s the story of a woman who felt the bitterness of discrimination, both as a woman and as an Italian American, but who did not let that stop her.
It’s a story of a woman who tried to rebuild a life with a second husband just to be stricken down with another tragedy.
It’s a real memoir, a story of a successful woman who loved, dedicated herself to her family and even so achieved so much.
It’s an intriguing book that it’s a significant cultural contribution both to the Italian American studies and to the women studies.
In a few words, a book that needs to be read, and we are certain that the readers will agree with us, after reading the book, that Gilda’s promise to the Pope was kept.

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“Pretender” Is Haunting In Our Political Environment… Exclusive Interview With Author Steve Piacente [L’IDEA Magazine]

“Pretender” is Haunting in our political environment… Exclusive interview with author Steve Piacente

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Steve Piacente

I met Steve Piacente twice before, at the New York International Book Expo, and had a plan to interview him for our magazine, but our schedules tended to be intense and I missed that opportunity until now. Steve has recently published the novel “Pretender,” which Kirkus Reviews called “haunting in our political environment,” and our paths crossed again, so here is the interview that he kindly was available to give for L’Idea Magazine.

L’Idea: Your first novel, “Bella,” was the winner of a National Indie Excellence 2012 Book Award and of the Readers’ Favorite 2012 Gold Medal for Dramatic Fiction. “Bootlicker,” the prequel to “Bella,” was the winner of the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal for Southern Fiction. Are these two books tied to your new novel, “Pretender,” or are they independent? What is the main theme of these two books?
Steve Piacente: First, thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself – it’s a pleasure to meet the readers of L’Idea! All three of my novels were inspired by my first career as a journalist. I was raised just outside New York City, but my twenty-five years in daily newspapers took me to America’s Deep South, where attitudes about race, tolerance, and nearly everything else were far more conservative than where I grew up. When my New York sensibilities collided with Southern culture, ideas began forming that would take shape much later in the form of three separate novels. A few of my characters appear in the pages of all three books, but each story stands alone. One would not have to read the first, for instance, for the third to make sense.
Bella is the story of a widow’s quest to uncover the truth behind her husband’s mysterious death on an Afghan battlefield. The story pairs the grieving widow with Dan Patragno, an unhappily married Washington journalist. Their search for the truth yields lessons about the power of temptation, the futility of revenge, and the consequences of yielding to either – even for a moment.
Bootlicker opens in 1959 with poor, black teen Ike Washington stumbling on a Ku Klux Klan lynching led by a white judge named Mac McCauley. Caught, he must choose: join the dead man or begin hustling black support the judge needs to advance. In trade, Ike is handed a life of comfort and power. Decades later, guilt-wracked “Big Ike” Washington is poised to become South Carolina’s first black congressman since the Civil War. Reporter Dan Patragno – the veteran journalist from Bella, now in the role of a rookie reporter – uncovers the truth just before Election Day. The themes in this book center on personal ambition, self-forgiveness, and redemption.

L’Idea: “Pretender” is your latest novel. What is it about?
Steve Piacente: Pretender begins with Dan, our star reporter from Bella and Bootlicker in big trouble. The disgraced journalist stumbles on a story that will let him reclaim his career, but redemption comes with a price: he must place his faith in Mac McCauley, the racist U.S. senator he once exposed as a murderer.
Fast-rising star Patragno had been thinking Pulitzer Prize until he violated one of journalism’s key tenets and wound up blackballed from the industry. Career shot, marriage in tatters and bills looming, he takes the only job he can find – manager at a Washington, D.C. Laundromat. As Dan struggles to accept his new station, a fateful note arrives from ex-Senator McCauley offering a jailhouse interview. If the story McCauley offers is true, it will rock the political world and open Dan’s path back to the industry he loves.
What Dan learns is this: McCauley had an affair with a black woman shortly after arriving in Washington in 1960. The union produced a son that McCauley and his mistress have kept secret for forty years. Now eighty-four and in failing health, God-fearing McCauley believes he must come clean to earn absolution. The revelation will destroy his legacy in a state that in 2002 still proudly displays the Confederate Flag.
It will also upend the lives of his two sons: J.B., the textile magnate in a heated race for his father’s old Senate seat; and Thomas, the biracial son no one knows, a university professor who has long resented the father who scorned him.
Dan is torn, for the path to redemption requires him to walk hand in hand with the nation’s most notorious segregationist, and to expose facts that both sons desperately want to be kept secret.
Must an act be illegal to be a crime? Who decides if the offender is worthy of forgiveness? Pretender explores the raw instincts that inform our choices and drive our actions, sometimes with consequences that span generations.

(Watch here the wonderful trailer for Pretender)

L’Idea: You are an author, a communications trainer, a certified life coach, and an associate professor. How did you get to this point of your life, professionally speaking?
Steve Piacente: It’s true. I have fingers in many pots, but everything is connected. Being a life coach hopefully makes me a more perceptive communications trainer. Being an author has hopefully made me a more relatable university writing instructor. Getting to this point was never the plan. On the contrary, I fully expected to remain in journalism. A decline in the industry around 2000 resulted in my job being eliminated, however, and I had to reinvent myself. Donning my life-coaching hat a moment, I learned in that period that the cliché about every challenge being an opportunity is quite true. My time as a reporter honed skill sets that transferred nicely to several professions – teaching, public relations, and, the field I went into next, speechwriting (at a U.S. federal agency). That evolved into a communications management position. The takeaway is that personal reinvention is healthy. Continuous learning keeps you fresh. Adding to your repertoire makes you more interesting – both to your clients and to yourself! Another thing I learned is that emptying the well doesn’t drain you. The well keeps replenishing, so long as you love what you’re doing.

L’Idea: You are originally from Brooklyn, lived in the South of the USA and you are an Italian American. How did your roots and geographical background influence your job choices, your life in general and your writing?
Steve Piacente: We’re all products of our heritage and experiences, and take that combination of nature and nurture travel with us wherever we go. As a writer, I believe putting myself into unfamiliar and unexpected circumstances is a great way to uncover new material.  My wife is also Italian-American, and we made our first trip to Italy a few years ago. It was so exciting to walk the streets of Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa, and Amalfi and to think that this is where the Piacentes began so long ago. I would like to explore my roots more and perhaps write something related to my family’s origins at some point.

L’Idea: How much did the activity as a correspondent in Washington D.C. influence your writing as a novelist?
Steve Piacente: I date myself here, but I was in college in Washington, D.C. during the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon. If you were interested in writing at that time, you pretty much went into journalism. The problem was that there was a lot of competition. I remember applying for a job in California and some editor telling me to forget it – he could have 100 qualified applicants in his office in hours. Why would he fly in some unproven kid from across the country? I saved that letter as I embarked on a 25-year in print journalism, including 15 years as a Washington correspondent. I don’t like when anyone tells me I can’t do something I know I can do. Flash forward to writing fiction. Toward the end of my newspaper career, I went back to school for a Masters in Fiction from Johns Hopkins University. That was the start of my three novels, and a non-fiction book now in the works.

L’Idea: Are you already working on the next novel? Do you have any other projects in the work?
Steve Piacente: I am now at work on a self-help book aligned with my life-coaching practice. The book is based on interviews with fifteen people who shared their hell-and-back stories, and the life lessons they learned. My hope is that reading this book –Your New Fighting Stance – will help others a bit further back in their careers deal with similar obstacles they will surely face down the road. I expect to publish in early 2019.

Steve Piacente at a book presentation

L’Idea: Who is the writer who inspired you the most and how?
Steve Piacente: There were many: Hemingway, Updike, Steinbeck, plus authors like Annie Proulx and Philip Roth, and writers such as Anne Lamott and Stephen King. I am actually most indebted to the mentors I had when starting as a newspaper writer, and later in my fiction classes, who encouraged me to absorb what I could from the writers I loved, but to develop my own style as well.

L’Idea: If you had the opportunity to meet face to face with any personality from the past, or the present, who would you like to meet and why? What would you tell them?
Steve Piacente: I would love to sit down with one of the most famous Italian Americans, Frank Sinatra. I find Sinatra’s story fascinating and would love to ask questions that go beyond what the public knew about his tumultuous career. I would like to chat with Steinbeck about his writing process, and tell him how much he meant to me as a young writer. Finally, I would love to ride down the Mississippi River with Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and discuss the human condition, where we have landed in the summer of 2018, and where we will be a decade from now.

L’Idea: Do you have a message for our readers who desire to become writers?
Steve Piacente: Write because you love to write, and for no other reason. Not for money, not for fame. Do it for the pure joy of creating something from nothing. Know that there will be pain, disappointment, and, as Anne Lamott says, plenty of shitty first drafts. But know as well that the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment is there at the other end, and there is nothing quite as spectacular.

You can find more information on Steve Piacente’s life coaching at https://www.stevepiacente.com/

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Let’s Meet a Rising Star: An Exclusive interview with the soprano AnnaMaddalena Capasso [OperaMyLove Magazine]

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

A young and very promising soprano is having a great success in Italy and we at OperaMyLove were fortunate to meet her for an interview. 

OperaMyLove:  You are very young, yet you have been in the opera world for a while. What prompted your interest in this field?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso:  I was five when I saw for the first time at the San Carlo of Naples “La Bohème”  by Puccini. After the show, I told to my mother:” When I grow up I’ll be an opera singer!”

OperaMyLove:  Which character did you find more challenging to prepare for, and perform?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Every role has its own difficulty, but one of the most complex for me it was Elvira from I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini.

OperaMyLove:  Which soprano do you admire the most and why?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Maria Callas has been the greatest interpreter of the 20thcentury. I love her. When I was younger, someone told me that I looked like her, aesthetically. Destiny wants me to have Greek ancestors from my mother and this inspires me even more.

OperaMyLove:  What has been the most rewarding performing experience you had so far?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: I had many rewarding experiences, but what I will remember for a lifetime was during a Christmas concert in a church in the Quartieri Spagnoli of Naples. I interpreted the Virgin Mary who was singing the Brahms’s lullaby to Jesus. The audience went into raptures; they said that I really looked like a sacred image. (Truthfully she does have a resemblance to some of the paintings of the Virgin Mary…)

OperaMyLove:  Who is the opera character that you would love to be cast in? Why?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: I’d like to interpret “Lucia of Lammermoor” by Donizetti. She is very macabre, romantic, strong and fragile character. I like to play such complex characters.

OperaMyLove:  What were your recent performances? Did you find them challenging? Rewarding? To your satisfaction?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: My last interpretation has yet to come, it’s always a challenge! I will never be satisfied!

OperaMyLove:  Who is the performer you were thrilled to work with and why?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: More than with an interpreter I’d like to work with a great conductor Daniel Barenboim, I love his way of directing.

OperaMyLove:  Do you have any upcoming projects?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Sure! I’m making a series of videos to introduce the world of the opera to as many people as possible! Follow me on my Instagram account @the_eternal_diva or my YouTube channel! (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFJRAw0u55r9D0QtDSgUI3w) You will see some beautiful ones!!

OperaMyLove:  I read that you are a passionate fan of your hometown soccer team, A.C. Napoli. Was this passion passed on to you by your father? Do you have any other passions and/or hobbies? 
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Yes, It’s true! I often go to the stadium; it’s a passion that was born alone! Sometimes I say that I have “blue blood”… (AnnaMaddalena laughs) ! In Naples everything is blue!
I have so many passions, one of these is the Manga; I go to the comic convention in Cosplay, the last character I Played was Sailor Moon at Napoli Comicon.
I really like reading literature classics; I love Disney’s movies and doing outdoor sports: swimming, diving, archery, running, climbing and above all, traveling! On the other hand, as Shakespeare said:”The whole world is a stage!”


AnnaMaddalena Capasso is a lyric coloratura soprano. With a distinctive voice and a strong ability to interpret, she was born in Torre del Greco on 04/07/1992.
AnnaMaddalena grew up in a family of artists in the graphic field. From an early age she showed a strong tendency in the music. She began studying opera singing at five. At sixteen she was admitted to the Conservatory of Music San Pietro a Majella in Naples, where she graduated in opera singing. Meanwhile, she participated in numerous opera performances, including “La Traviata” by Verdi at the Museum Donnaregina of Naples, ” Dialogues of the Carmelites ” by Poulenc at the Conservatory of Naples. At nineteen, she graduated from the high school with the linguistic project Jug, where in addition to deepen the study of modern languages it expands to the study of classical languages.

She participated in numerous national and international competitions for opera singers, including the X Singing Competition organized by the International Institute for Opera and Poetry and the Fondazione Arena di Verona and the VII international opera competition “Magda Olivero,” always receiving great appreciation by the jury. AnnaMaddalena won the third prize in the XIII National Competition of music created by ” Lions Club ” in Mercato San Severino.  She interpreted in the Opera ”Mas’Aniello” by Jacopo Napoli the roles of The Queen and Marco Vitale. The same year she participated in a Master Class on the work held by the German master Adi Bar, interpreting the arias of the Queen of Night from ” The Magic Flute ” by Mozart. She also attended a lecture by M. Irene Crodelia Huberti. She performed in several concerts with the ” Cantori di Posillipo ”.

In the year 2014/2015, she attended a specialization course in opera at academy of Osimo, studying with Raina Kabaivanska, Harriet Lawson, William Matteuzzi, Anna Vandi, Alla Simoni, Carlo Morganti, Angelo Gabrielli and the artistic director of the San Carlo theater and Opera Academy Vincenzo De Vivo.

In December 2015, she took part in the Bohème by Puccini at the Teatro La Nuova Fenice in Osimo.

She took part in Bizet’s Carmen held at the same directed by Matteo Mazzoni, with the participation of Luca Violini and the conduction of Maestro Alessandro Benigni.

In May 2016 she participated in historical staging of Fedora (Giordano)  directed by Lamberto Puggelli at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, conducted by Asher Fisch and Maurizio Agostini.

In July 2016, she performed the Nabucco of G. Verdi to the Reggia of Caserta with Leo Nucci, the conduction of Daniel Oren and the direction by Stefano Trespidi.
She was awarded the ‘Naples in the World’ award.

She sings in five languages: French, English, German, Spanish and Japanese. Her repertoire ranges from the Opera to sacred music.


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2018 International Book Show In New York A Repeated Success [L’IDEA MAGAZINE]


2018 International Book Show in New York a repeated success

By Tiziano Thomas Dossena

It was not the huge-size exhibit of the past years and there were some big publishing names missing, but overall the International Book Expo repeated itself as a successful show equally for the authors, the publishers and the interested visitors formed by librarians, would-be authors, journalists and readers.

Gone were some of the extravagant displays and although that made it less glamorous, it also made it more professional looking.

Sylvia Medina


Among the many authors encountered, some were personable and interesting, making their presence a success by itself. Sylvia Medina, for example, with her book Elee and the Shining Star, illustrated by Morgan Spicer, brought some fresh air into the children’s book s section. The narrative may not be entirely innovative or unexpected, but it flows nicely and it certainly has a moral to it. The illustrations are pleasant and I am sure kids will love this book for both the pictures and the story.


A book that was unusual for its illustrations is Santa’s Sleigh-Train, by E. Dorinda Shelley. The artist, Eleanor A. Hutton, used a child-like style that we could call neo-naïf if we want to label it, to accompany the charming narrative that could make even a Grinch smile… A wonderful book aimed at young children.

E. Dorinda Shelley (right) with Eleanor A. Hutton

C. Tony Graham

A Young Adult series of books was presented by C. Tony Graham in an attractive booth of her own. Surrounded by images of her books, she gladly expounded on the Crossroads series. An award winning writer, she explained about the four teens who were whisked away to the Otherworld, a land in a different dimension and the adventures that ensued…

Bill Fortenbough


For the adult readers, the choices were many. In the nonfiction section one could find the well written history of the A Cat Ghost, a 28- foot, Marconi rigged catboat, with original pictures that show the various phases of its construction and some of the races to which it participated (it won seven consecutive races). From Beaton’s to Beach Haven, written by Bill Fortenbough, is definitely a great book for people who love boats and sailing.

Abby Denson

A comic book writer’s off-beat, upbeat tour of Tokyo, Cool Tokyo, by Abby Denson, offers a fun approach to this magnificent Asian city, and it’s a smart choice for travelers who want to know more and not get bored with data and statistics. The illustrations are fun and meant to make you smile while gathering information about local customs, places to visit, food to eat and much more…

A story that inspires and delights, The Bellman, by Heidi Barnes, is a novel in the classic American storytelling style that presents colorful characters in a picturesque backdrop. In a historic mansion on the majestic coast of Maine, turned into a luxury inn, a young local man who wanted to join the circus is hired as a bellman and, observing the guests, he soon realizes that The Maycliff is quite similar to that world that he wanted to join and… we’ll let the readers find out how life at that Maine inn is really like…

Heidi Barnes with her editor

Heidi Barnes with her editor


Wednesday Martin








A bold, timely reconsideration of female infidelity that upends everything we’ve been taught about women and sex, Untrue is a book that will be the talk of the town when published, in September. The author, Wednesday Martin, had previously a #1 New York Times bestseller and she intends to repeat her feat with this in-depth study of women’s sexual behavior.

The Dictionary of Animal Languages is a novel by Heidi Sopinka, unlike the title may lead you to believe. The life of a woman is progressed through the book in chapters that have animal names and to which somehow the developing story refers to. It’s an exciting tale about an artist, her escape from a war-torn Europe and her final work, a vast account of animal languages.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena with the author Heidi Sopinka

Italian-American writers’ presence was strong and noticeable. Among them I’d like to note Michael Franzese and his expanded edition of Blood Covenant, the story of the “Mafia Prince” who publicly quit the Mob and lived to tell about it. A review will follow in a separate article.

Another respectable author  was Bill Petrocelli and his Through the Bookstore Window, a riveting novel about the grim effects of war and  violence while exploring how love can transcend age, gender, background, and, perhaps, the readers’ expectations.

Terry Nemeth (left), Publisher of American Theatre magazine

An English author of Italian origins, Nadia Dalbuono is known for her series of books dedicated to the fictitious Italian investigator Leone Scamarcio and she came to the Expo with another one of these stories, The Few, ‘an unsettling detective thriller set in the dark heart of the corrupt Italian political system’, a wonderful surprise for her fans.


Altogether I can easily state, after talking to the many exhibitors, that the Expo was successful, but many unknowns still remain: will this Book Show keep on shrinking? Will the visitors decide to attend different exhibitions, which have in the meanwhile sprouted after the temporary move to Chicago, instead of this one? Only time will tell, but I hope that the trend will revert and the International Book Show will return to have the grandeur it used to have.

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Being Italian; Interview With The Author Marianna Biazzo Randazzo [L’IDEA MAGAZINE]

by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Marianna Randazzo is an Italian-American author from New York City. Teacher, wife, mother and grandmother, she taught for over 35 years, both in the educational system of NYC and as an instructor at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. After retirement, she devoted all her energies to teaching Italian culture. Marianna is an officer in Staten Island’s Capodanno Lodge of the Sons of Italy in America Association.
“Given Away, The Rest of the Story,” published by Idea press, is a novel, based on a true story, which follows the progress of her family, from Sicily to the US starting at the turn of the Second World War and through the post-war years The original book “Given Away, A Sicilian Upbringing,” which was the winner of the NYS Grand Lodge Sons of Italy Literary Award in 2016. was also translated in Italian and published by Idea Press (“Lontano Da Casa, Educazione in Sicilia”)

     Her other publications include the biography “Brooklyn’s Best: The Michael Behette Story,” “The Italians of Brooklyn,” several children’s books and numerous articles on education and the Italian diaspora. Marianna is also a columnist for L’Idea Magazine (NY).

     In addition to her hard work in the Italian American community, Marianna devotes her time to raising funds for The Huntington Disease Society of America, and to inform the public about that disease. Part of the proceeds of the sale of her books will be donated to this association (HDSA).

L’IDEA: Marianna, when did you start writing and what was your inspiration then?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: I probably started officially writing when I was about ten years old and learned about a “business letter.” I realized that writing gave everyone a voice. In school, we wrote mock complaint letters or requests for information. I remember encouraging my older brother to send a letter and drawings he had made to President Nixon. Surprisingly, Nixon sent us an autographed picture of himself from the White House. What a thrill! It was then I realized the power of words.

L’IDEA: Is “Given Away” a novel or a biography? Who are the main characters and are they still alive?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: Given Away is based on a true story. Tina, the protagonist, is still alive and was born in 1931. She is the last surviving sister of the Arezzi family. At 87, she continues to share the details of the years that were written about in the book. She will attest to the fact that all of the details of her Sicilian Upbringing are true. Some names, places, and dates have been changed to protect the innocent!

L’IDEA: “Given Away, A Sicilian Upbringing” seems to have evolved into a different book of a sort in “Given Away, The Rest of the Story.” Could you elaborate on that?
Marianna Biazzo RandazzoGiven Away, A Sicilian Upbringing was a story that waited over 70 years to be told by an 83-year-old woman.  It was not until I was an adult that I learned about the very different lives that my mother and her sister Tina lead as children. Hearing only one side of a family’s history from my mom, I found it incredulous that these two sisters had such polar opposite existences in two towns probably less than 10 miles apart. It was then I learned the whole story.  After the first book was written people wanted to know more about the sisters,  the story took on a life of its’ own. I also needed to learn more and with my cousin Lisa Arezzi, the daughter of one of the siblings, we visited the hometown and the actual house where the story took place. We spent 10 days in Ragusa, Sicily.
With the help and encouragement of my editor, Tiziano, The Rest of the Story was written with Tina willing to contribute about another hundred pages to the original book.

L’IDEA: You just published a new book with Arcadia, “Italians of Brooklyn.” Could you tell us something about that?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: After writing the Given Away books, I became more immersed in my Italian culture, roots, and heritage. As a school teacher for over 30 years, I had a different focus on life. I was busy raising my three children and in the end years of my parents’ lives, caring for them. Being Italian was not something I thought much about during my earlier years. It was just who I was, naturally. I cooked Italian, I spoke Italian, I followed traditions and customs, and as a child, I even assumed everyone was Italian.
Once I retired from teaching, I volunteered at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. I was shocked to find an Italian American Museum in Staten Island! I soaked up all I could about the actual inventor of the telephone and Giuseppe Garibaldi. Their extensive library opened my eyes to everything Italian. I was soon recruited to be the Director of School Programs and media specialist, jobs I loved because they combined two of my favorite things, education, and culture. I decided to create multimedia presentations about my books and Italian themed subjects. Soon I wanted to write about every Italian since Christopher Columbus and John Cabot! I approached Arcadia Publishing with several of my ideas and remembered the adage, write what you know!
I knew Brooklyn; I lived it, I breathed it, I loved it. My children were also raised in Brooklyn, and I believe they are forever grateful. When I presented my idea to Arcadia, even though they are based in South Carolina, they loved the Brooklyn aspect of it, and they said, “Everyone loves an Italian!”
The book was a challenge. The series is called Images of America, so I had to collect almost 200 original photographs that would tell a story. I didn’t want to buy pictures because although they may have been iconic, they were not meaningful to me. Instead, I reached out to Italians through social media, friends, and families. I interviewed dozens of people from the iceman’s daughter, Angela Solomon, to the founder and creator of the Enrico Caruso Museum of America, Commendatorore Aldo Mancusi.  I was invited to view the photo archives of churches and Italian American organizations.
I was touched by how many people opened their homes and photo albums to me. I wished I could write a book about each one of them! The challenge was telling the story around the photo in a way that depicted the Italian American experience in New York. I hope I did it justice. The second biggest challenge was learning how to scan hundreds of photos at just the right quality.

L’IDEA: What is your current connection to the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: I retired from my positions at the museum to babysit my grandchildren but there is something special about that place that keeps one coming back.  In 2018, I was elected a Commissioner on the Board of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is owned and operated by The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America and I am the historian of the Sons of Italy, Fr. Vincent Capodanno Lodge #212. True to Italian culture, we are like one big family.

L’IDEA: What is going to be your next literary effort?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: Now that I have Arcadia’s attention, I proposed a book about Fr. Vincent Capodanno and Vietnam Veterans. Vincent Robert Capodanno was a Roman Catholic priest who was killed in action in 1967 while serving as a United States Navy chaplain assigned to a Marine Corps infantry unit during the Vietnam War. He was a posthumous recipient of America’s highest military decoration. In 2002, Capodanno’s Cause for Canonization was officially opened, and he is now referred to as a Servant of God.
I am also working on a book with Professor William Castello, a fabulous artist. Bill draws portraits, and I tell the stories. The first in the series will be a compilation of Italian men and women, entertainers, saints, scientists, politicians, and other interesting people.
Another project I have going on is the memoirs of a Syrian-American woman and her experiences as one of the first patrolwoman/police officers in New York City. Several years ago, I wrote a book about her son, Brooklyn’s Best: The Michael Behette Story, Michael was a firefighter who served the FDNY and passed away from cancer-related to his service during the World Trade Center disaster. While writing that book I got to know his extraordinary mother and realized hers was a story to be told as well.

L’IDEA: Do you have any future book presentations that our readers can attend?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: Yes and I’ll give you a list you can publish…

Barnes and Nobles, Discussion/book signing
Saturday, July 28, 2018, 2:00 PM
Park Slope, 267 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Sons of Italy, Fr. Vincent  Capodanno Lodge #212
Helmsley Hall:  4 Arthurkill Rd. Staten Island,
Tuesday, August 6, 2018 (Panel with two other Italian American Authors)

BookMark Bookstore
August 10, 2018
6:00-10:00 PM
Summer Stroll on 3rd Ave.
Book Signing
8415 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209
(More info to follow)

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum/Italians of Brooklyn/ Presentation
Sunday, September 30, 2018
2:00 PM
420 Tompkins Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305

Greenbelt Conservancy
700 Rockland Avenue
Staten Island, NY
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Multimedia Presentation: New York Immigrant Experience

L’IDEA: You want to organize an “Italian American Writers Literary Festival” with the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum and Fr. Capodanno Lodge #212. What is that and will it work?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: Festa Italiana at Mount Loretto, Pleasant Plains in Staten Island is  believed  to be “the biggest Columbus Day celebration in history.” Last year, people enjoyed live entertainment, meeting celebrities, dancing,  rides,  arts and crafts, visiting representatives from Staten Island’s cultural institutes and clubs, and eating their way through the all-day affair. According to Borough Hall, 10,000 people attended the event on one day! The Garibaldi- Meucci Museum and the Sons of Italy, Fr. Capodanno Lodge #212 took the opportunity to introduce visitors to Italian-American authors. This year, I would like this literary endeavor to grow and have requested several booths and have invited many more Italian-American authors to join us. We are hoping to attract book lovers of all ages to meet and enjoy an array of accomplished and emergent authors.  The event will take place on Saturday, October, 4, 2018. Mt. Loretto is located at 6581 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island, NY.

L’IDEA: Is there a message you want to send to people who feel that they have a story to tell, but they are afraid they don’t know how to do it or get it to the public?
Marianna Biazzo Randazzo: Everyone has a story to tell, if not their own perhaps a family member or a poem, or a work of fiction. Don’t fear the pen (or in today’s time, the computer) Start small, tell someone the story, get feedback,  write it down, send it to a newspaper, a magazine. There are guides to magazine writing in the library; they have everything you need listed in them.   Many people come to me and tell me they have written books, usually what they have written are the beginnings of a book. If you are serious about writing, take a writing course. I still take online courses as I have no interest in getting any more degrees. I also took a storytelling class which led me to participate in a MOTH performance (true stories told live,)   There are meet-up writing groups and free classes at the library.  I like to teach memoir writing classes so follow me on Facebook, and you will find me! I could also be reached at mrandazzo3@gmail.com.
Writing helps you to connect with your life again; it is a great outlet. If you love nonfiction as I do, writing gives you the opportunity to do tons of research, which I sometimes enjoy more than the writing itself. Don’t be discouraged; even if you are never published it could be your legacy to others in the future.

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