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In Search Of Desdemona - Truth Surfaces from the Unexpected

March 17, 2017 | By Carmela Altamura
world-renowned soprano
Carmela Altamura, the world-renowned soprano and founder of successful Inter-City Performing Arts, tries her hand at a new venture, writing a beautifully captivating Music Drama based on a yet unknown event in the life of Giuseppe Verdi. After reading the play, Roger Malouf of the Metropolitan Opera wrote "Carmela, the play is a gem! You have created such a beautiful story from Verdi's life. The dialogue you have written makes the characters come alive for the audience, and we cannot help but care very much about these people. Thank you for sharing your play with me!"

The theater piece narrates that Verdi, the most beloved and performed Italian composer, symbol of the Italian Risorgimento movement that led to the Unification of Italy, harbored a dark secret together with his lover, afterwards his wife, Giuseppina Strepponi. As Mary Jane Phillips-Matz recounts in her well-researched Verdi Biography, Strepponi has given birth to an illegitimate daughter fathered by Verdi, before their marriage. They have abandoned the baby, who has grown up without knowing the identity of her famous parents. Revealing this just discovered event, is Altamura’s first of three Cameos on Verdi’s life, works and times, titled: “IN SEARCH OF DESDEMONA - Truth Surfaces from the Unexpected".

The year is 1887. Giuseppe Verdi and his librettist, Arrigo Boito, are looking for an angelic voice to sing the role of Desdemona in their new opera, Otello, to be staged at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. They go to Giuseppina Strepponi's studio to audition her young artists, and hear a lovely soothing voice that would be ideal for their search. Who is she? Her name is Santa, played by Polish soprano,Justyna Giermola. She is Giuseppina’s maid, but we soon find out that she was the baby left at the door of the convent for unwanted children, and raised in the same convent by another of Giuseppina’s faithful servants: Annina. Learning that Giuseppina is her real mother, Santa is overjoyed, but rejects her father for having caused Giuseppina so much suffering. The remorseful Giuseppe offers to help Santa and finally decides to make a home for the three of them cutting off his blatant relationship with the soprano Teresa Stoltz. In the best tradition of a joyous finale, Verdi embraces a daughter who is also ideal for the role of Desdemona, Santa finds a family, and Arrigo Boito gives the world a signature libretto.

Altamura gives a masterly rendition of such a dramatic and historic subject, alternating in a perfect balance a bit of comedy with an in-depth portrayal of the hypocritical behavior of the high-level, proper society of that time. This exquisitely theatrical piece also offers a brilliant mix of prose and music, of acting and singing by the winners of the Altamura – Caruso International Voice Competition. The character of Giuseppina Strepponi is interpreted by the playwright herself, Carmela Altamura and Giuseppe Verdi by her husband, Leonardo Altamura. The supporting role of Camillo, Giuseppina's nephew is played by Russian tenor Pavel Sulyandziga. Teresa Stoltz, Giuseppina's rival, played by Polish contralto Ola Rafalo, and students in audition by Soprano, Anne Tormela, Jenny Sandelin, and Gudrun Buhler and Catherine Macula Cusimano.

The Schiller Institute New York Community Chorus will perform the Ave Maria by Verdi on verses by Dante Alighieri based on a Lauda by Jacopone da Todi in the choral arrangement of its conductor, Maestro John Sigerson. Pianist accompanist is Maestro David Maiullo. The first performance of Cameo Number 1, directed by Mauricio Trejo is set for Saturday, April 29, 2017, at 4:00 PM in the beautifully preserved Good Shepherd Church Theater, 152 West 66th Street, Manhattan For further information, please call 201-863-8724 or write to icpainc@optonline.net www.altocanto.org

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