The Festa della Musica is inspired by the values of the international Fête de la Musique. An event born in France in 1981 that later became an international phenomenon. Nowadays, the Fête de la Musique simultaneously involve many cities all around the world. In June, at the very beginning of the summer, for the summer solstice, these cities celebrate music through a series of free concerts and musical shows. The “Festa della Musica” represents the occasion to create an artistic language free from any constraint and to rediscover the pleasure of being together.
By Sandra Tornberg
On Thursday, June 20, 2019, Festa della Musica was celebrated for the first time in Detroit. The event was organized by the Dante Alighieri Society of Michigan and the Italian American Club of Livonia Charitable Foundation, with the collaboration of the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan and Tuesday Musicale of Detroit, under the auspices of the Consulate of Italy in Detroit. The event took place at the Bloomfield Township Public Library.
Daniela D’Amico Henderson, cultural chairperson of the Dante, welcomed the audience and promised a great evening, a promise that was fulfilled. Daniela remarked that this was a fitting way to mark the 130th anniversary of the Dante Alighieri Society, encompassing the passion of the organization for music, language, and culture. She said “The title of this festival, Festa della Musica, is an inspiring reminder of the spirit of people and is also an invitation to celebrate unity through music.”
President Lia Adelfi welcomed Mr. John Zaretti, President of the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan, Ms. Dina-Soresi Winter, president of the Tuesday Musicale of Detroit, and Ms. Maria Harris, president of the Italian American Club of Livonia Charitable Foundation, who expressed her happiness for the collaboration between all these groups.
Dr. Maria Manca, Consul of Italy in Detroit, greeted the audience, informing them that Festa Della Musica is celebrated worldwide on June 21, featuring all types of music. It was celebrated for the first time in France in 1982. Dr. Manca was enthusiastic to be part of the first celebration in Detroit.
John Zaretti introduced the first of the evening’s talented performers, all finalists of the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan’s annual Italian Songs and Arias Vocal Competition for Michigan High School Students. This important competition celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. Past finalists have gone on to perform at opera houses and concert halls all over the world. Soprano Rachel Miltimore, second prize winner at this year’s competition, performed “Ah, Mai non Cessate” by Stefano Donaudy. Tenor Jarrett Hazelton, third prize winner at this year’s competition, sang von Gluck’s “O del mio dolce ardor”. Finally, 2014 competition winner Kristine Overman, performed “Io son l’umile ancella”, from Adriana Lecouvreur by Cilea. Kristine had just returned from singing the role of Countess in Le Nozze de Figaro in Prague, Czech Republic. Pianist Joseph Lauerman, a music student at West Bloomfield High School, brilliantly accompanied all three performers.
Eric Winter introduced the next three outstanding performers, Student League Musicians of Tuesday Musicale of Detroit. Clarinetist Nickolas Hamblin performed Paganini’s “Caprice No. 15 in E Minor”. Next the impressive Jonathan Shi, a ninth grader at Bloomfield Hills High School, performed Chopin’s “Impromptu No. 2 Opus 36”. Finally, violinist Jerusha Taylor performed the third movement of Saint-Saens’ “Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor”. She was accompanied by pianist Samantha Beresford.
Finally, soprano Angela Ciaravino Theis concluded the evening with three arias, performing “Caro nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, “Prendi, per me sei libero” from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, and “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schcchi. Angela is an original member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio and served as soprano resident artist from 2015-2017. She has performed around the United States and abroad, and has won awards in Italy and Austria. She is the first recipient of the Tuesday Musicale of Detroit Dina Soresi Winter Award for Young Singers and made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall on June 16, 2019. Opera-lover and music supporter Dr. Bill Kupsky accompanied Angela. An “amateur” musician, Dr. Kupsky also sings and studies the violin and classical ballet in addition to accompanying singers in various organizations,
The enthusiastic audience was delighted by this impressive array of talent. This evening was a testament to the collaboration of these organizations to deliver an exceptional first Festa della Musica.