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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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For the week of March 12 - 18, 2003

Arts and Entertainment

"Songs of Naples:" 
A gift from Italia

Express Staff Writer

Even Elvis sang "O Sole Mio," albeit by changing the lyrics to "It’s Now or Never." This is just one example of the many Neapolitan songs that are synonymous for many with Italy, despite their origins.

To introduce the Sun Valley area audience to the authentic sounds of Naples, the Sun Valley Opera is presenting three Italian guest artists this Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood.

Flying in from Rome are tenor Fabio Andreotti, soprano Ilaria de Francesco and pianist Fabio Montani. They will perform such favorite tunes as "O Sole Mio," "Return to Sorrento," and "Santa Lucia." Their visit marks an exclusive performance in the United States.

Ketchum resident and concert sponsor Gary Hoffman heard Andreotti sing in Rome last fall.

"He reminded me of Pavarotti twenty years ago. They both have incredible voices. For many in the U.S. this will be a lifetime opportunity to experience a concert like this," he said.

Sun Valley Opera vice-president Frank Meyer concurs.

"Many have heard these popular songs from Naples in movies. The power of the opera trained voice is a natural for these songs packed with emotion. ‘Passione Mediterranee,’ sung by Fabio Andreotti, on a new recording may be the next big hit single to cross the Atlantic with a voice like this," said Meyer, who co-founded Sun Valley Opera with Floyd McCraken.

Andreotti has sung in "Rigoletto" at the Greek Theatre of Rome and at the Roman Theatre in Ostia for the centennial of Guiseppe Verdi’s death. Among his recent concert appearances, he has sung Mozart’s "Requiem," and has had leading roles in "La Bohème," "La Traviata" and "Lucia di Lammemoor."

A native of Rome, de Francesco has never sung in the United States. before. "I'm expecting a very warm reception, not the least because the songs we'll be singing are so full of feeling and passion."

Another of the songs she’ll sing, "I' te Vurria Vasa" is a classic Neapolitan love song, much covered over the years. "I find it so full of passion, and while I'm singing it I can feel the warmth of the Naples sun and the breeze off the sea," she said.

The small group only has three days in Sun Valley before it heads back to Italy.

"I can't wait to see Sun Valley and perform this concert," de Francesco said. "Not even the length of the trip has me concerned because I'm sure that once we get there, the clean air and the whole atmosphere in Sun Valley will re-energize us. I think that it's a great personal experience."

In 2002, she appeared in film and stage director Franco Zeffirelli’s production of "Aida," in many Italian venues.

"It was an indescribable feeling; it was like becoming part of the great heritage that belongs to Maestro Zeffirelli. He taught me a lot, especially how to be an actress on stage, to develop subtle gestures and expressions, and to make me feel the part of ‘Aida’ deeply and realistically."

She has also notably performed in Mozart’s "Così fan Tutte" and "La Nozze di Figaro," Verdi’s "Messa da Requiem" and Puccini’s "La Bohème."

Tickets for the concert are available at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum, or at the concert line 726-2220. Reserved adult seating is $35, general admission is $25. Students under 18 are $18, $15, or $12.

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