Articles by: A. C.

  • Art & Culture

    Adventures in Italian Opera by Cavaliere Fred Plotkin

    Passionate about all things Italian from a very young age, Fred Plotkin is considered one of the major American experts on Italian music, wine and food. After many years of study in Italy, where he learned the language, Plotkin turned his passion into a career, dedicating his life to promoting Italian wine and food culture, opera and cinema.

    As a journalist and public speaker, Plotkin constantly champions the great Italian arts in an original and impassioned way. His vast knowledge of Italian society and culture and his great communication skills make him one of the most admired and esteemed experts on our country. 

    That is what the President of the Republic had to say about Fred Plotkin when recently conferring upon him the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia. Some time ago, in fact, we were moved to see how much he was moved upon receiving the title.

    A few hours after, he posted on Facebook: “It’s an immense honor in that Italy for me has been the greatest teacher and inspiration. How wonderful— how stunning!—that a place I love so would bestow on me this rare honor for my devotion to sharing that which so enthralls me.”

    A New Yorker with the Soul of an Italian

    There’s no doubt in our mind, Fred is probably the most Italian of Americans in New York. To be frank, few Italians know Italy as well as he does. Want to see for yourself? Ask him about the smallest Italian city and he’ll guide you inside and point out all there is to know about the architecture, art and gastronomy. 

    The New York Times, which he has contributed to for years, called him, “A New Yorker with the soul of an Italian.” He himself loves to be called a “Pleasure activist.” But don’t jump to any conclusions: for him, “pleasure activism” is “not about hedonism, which can be quite mindless and selfish; it is putting other thoughts out of our head and focusing our senses on what we are perceiving.

    It is the recognition of the value of things and experiences. One bite of chocolate or one sip of wine, for example, can be immensely rewarding.” 

    Adventures in Italian opera at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò:

    Thursday, February 18, 2016: Italian baritone Ambrogio Maestri has achieved the rare distinction of total ownership of an iconic role. His interpretation of Verdi’s Falstaff, which he continues to refine, is definitive. He also excels in other core Italian repertoire and appears at the Met this season in Cavalleria Rusticana and the title role Don Pasquale.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2016: American tenor Matthew Polenzani has distinguished himself as a leading man in many of the most important romantic roles, mostly in Italian, in the lyric and bel canto repertory. This season he appears at the Met in new productions of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles and Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux (in the title role).

    Tuesday April 19, 2016: Young Italian soprano Maria Agresta is a rising star, having already appeared in major roles at La Scala and the Paris Opera. She makes her Met debut this season as Mimì in La Bohéme.

    These events begin at 6:30 pm sharp. Members have first access to seats to all events, including these. For information: >>> 

  • Life & People

    Claudio Baglioni @ NYU

    After 120,000 kilometers of traveling around the world, with concerts in five continents, Baglioni arrived in New York to perform a solo concert, “because this kind of theaters has certain acoustics that allow for this kind of choice. I also wanted to give my musicians a break”.

    From Brussels to Tokyo, from Australia to South America, Baglioni met those Italians that are  spread around the world. “There is a strong connection, a beautiful sensation. Italy should have a new unification in this spirit, beginning in 2011”. The author is very attached to the concept of the voyage and of migrations.

     In Lampedusa he created the O' Scia' project, an artistic project (which up until now saw the participation of over 300 artists and is supported by many important international organizations, such as the Red Cross and Amnesty International, as well as many NGOs), “to promote the culture of dialogue. We live in times of fear and the real problem is that people lack mutual respect and they tend to seek refuge with power. I have always preferred thinking about 'power' as an action: the 'power' to do something. Unfortunately, it is used mainly as an object, 'the power' as a refuge in a temple within which lies a serious crisis among interpersonal relations”.
    Baglioni underlined how the commitment of artists in good causes should not be considered an extraordinary fact, or at least worth of merit. “It must be done. It's like paying taxes. It is necessary. It is the first form of solidarity. We are only amplifiers of a more intense work that others do. We are like trumpeters of an army, but the true battles are won by others”.
    The curiosity of the public concentrated on his lyric writing. With surprising honesty, the artist admitted how he pays more attention to the melody of the words than to their content. “When I write I am terrorized by the words. I would be very happy to not have to use them. I use words to add musicality to the musical writing. I look for linguistic games and the idea of narrating something is not a priority”.
    A warm public supported him for the whole event with applauses, questions and a lively interest towards the topics. He received a portrait from an audience member, and many were moved remembering the lyrics of his songs, the soundtrack of a lifetime.