words by Carol King
Americans will be able to experience some Italian cheer this Christmas at Cristina Fontanelli’s ‘Christmas in Italy’ show.
In its ninth year in New York City, ‘Christmas In Italy’ is a musical programme of Italian favourites performed by award-winning singer Fontanelli. The Yuletide show will be held on 1 December at the Symphony Space on Broadway at 95th Street. Ticket prices start at $37. ‘Christmas in Italy’ will also take place for the second year in a row in San Diego, California on 9 December at the University of San Diego.
Fontanelli’s repertoire will include songs and arias by Gaetano Donizetti, Paolo Tosti and Giacomo Puccini, as well as Neapolitan and Christmas classics such as ‘Tu Scendi dalle Stelle’ (You Came Down from the Stars). She will sing to piano, mandolin and guitar accompaniment. Fontanelli will be joined by the Bambini of the Coro d’Italia and P.S. 79, and the Richmond Choral Society of Staten Island.
Born in Brooklyn, Fontanelli’s family owned an Italian deli in New York City’s Little Italy. The singer told ‘TalkClassicalWorld.com’ that the Christmas event is a tribute to her grandparents: “I decided to begin this annual holiday tradition to preserve my Italian heritage because of my concern that these musical ‘gems’ are being lost and to teach them to younger generations.”
Fontanelli is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts from the Order Sons of Italy in America and has been named Woman of the Year by various Italian organisations in the USA. A TV presenter for PBS and CBS, she is the voice of Nonna on PBS chef Lidia Bastianich’s animated Christmas special and the voice of Domino’s Pizza on the national American radio commercial. A soprano, Fontanelli has performed at the White House as part of President Bill Clinton’s holiday celebration in 2005 and she opened the ceremonies at the Stars and Stripes Inaugural Ball for President George W. Bush. She has completed three world tours with the Mantovani Orchestra and has appeared with opera companies, including the New York Grand Opera, throughout the world.