Staged by the American Italian Cultural Center, the second annual “Opera in the Piazza” concert will take place Friday night at the Piazza d’Italia.
Seasoned New Orleans opera singers will present arias from operas in the Italian repertoire, plus such well-known Italian songs as “O Sole Mio,” “Volare” and “Santa Lucia.”
The singers, nearly all of whom have sung in New Orleans Opera Association productions, are Tyler Smith, Kathleen Halm, Jacob Penick, Elizabeth Evans, Kameron Lopreore and Hayley Whitney.
The arias will come from the works of such Italian composers as Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, Rossini, Bellini, Leoncavallo, Di Capua and Sartori, along with Mozart and Gluck, German-speakers who collaborated with Italian librettists on some of their most famous works.
Timothy Todd Simmons, executive director of the New Orleans Opera Association, will accompany the singers on piano.
From Houston, where he was attending a celebration of Italy’s 69th anniversary as a republic, AICC board Chairman Frank Maselli said the concert drew 600 music-lovers last year.
“This year, preliminarily at least, it’s also being received really well,” he said. “People seem to be really excited about it. It’s a good chance for people to hear some quality singing and opera for a minimal cost.”
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate.
The Piazza d’Italia is in the 300 block of Poydras Street between Tchoupitoulas and South Peters streets. Italian food and drinks will be available, with proceeds benefiting the AICC.
The evening’s program, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., will consist of three sets, the first two featuring Lopreore and Whitney and the second and third with Smith, Halm, Penick and Evans.
The concert is timed to commemorate the anniversary of Italy’s transition from a monarchy to a republic. Following World War II, Italy held a referendum on June 2, 1946, that narrowly passed, ending a monarchical tradition with roots stretching back to the Roman Empire and Italy’s unification in 1861.
Republic Day in Italy, Maselli noted, “is the equivalent to our Fourth of July.”
Simmons said he’s looking forward to opera under the stars.
“We really had a great time, and the audience was fantastic,” he said. “This year’s repertoire is a great variety of serious opera, light opera and fun Italian. ... It’s going to be a lot of fun, and we can’t wait.”