Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Elena Cernei-THE Mezzo-Soprano Of The Century

Listen readers, REALLY listen, with your heart as well as your ears.  I wrote about this mezzo-soprano two years ago and since have discovered the many facets of her well-trained and natural voice.  I have grown to love the richness and depth of her singing which brings out so much passion inside of me.

When I accidentally found her I was curious. So I found more of her videos on YouTube, thanks to her husband Dr. Stephan Poen.  What beautiful tributes he has posted!

While finding out about her and enjoying her gorgeous, sumptuous performances, I thought, I can't just listen to her on YouTube anymore.  I need to have her music for my very own.  Well, little did I know it would be an arduous journey to find it.  I tried many different sources....ITunes...Amazon.....Craigslist...Ebay, and even tried using the web to find a place to buy her music.  To no avail, but I kept trying.  Finally, 2 months ago I saw a listing for her music on Ebay.  It was a vinyl album of her repertoire which had all the arias I had been listening to on YouTube.  The seller was in Israel and I have to admit, it was a little more expensive than I would normally have paid but of course I HAD to have it.  It seemed like an eternity (two weeks) waiting for this treasure to arrive!  It came and I opened the package and pulled out a beautifully preserved vinyl disc that I immediately put on my 1969 Delmonico Nivico Hi-Fi and instantly my mind traveled to my romantic place and I was swept away.  I cried.

This record album has not left my stereo since I put it on the turntable and I listen to her almost every day.  Again, many thanks to you, Dr. Stephan Poen for introducing me to such an emotionally enriching 'prima voce'!  May Elena always be remembered in our hearts and our ears!

La Vita Bella!
Angelo di Gioa

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rionero Sanittico: A Dream Of Connecting

I have never had such a strong desire (obsession) to visit a little piece of this earth as I do this place, the birthplace of my great-grandfather Pa Tadone (Giovanni Andreano).  Although he passed away when I was a small child, I still have recollections of him, and combined with my nana's memory and stories, he lives in my heart.  You now know my reason to visit this little village.

To hear my nana tell, Pa Tadone's childhood was complicated with a selfish, cruel step-mother and a poor existence which was combined with earthquakes and lots of snakes.  Now these things I am sure are true but I know how my grandmother has a tendency (like myself) to embellish a story.  Where do you think I get that ability????  Anyway, she always described this beautiful little mountain town in Italy and I would daydream these wonderful fantasies about the village.  As I got older, the daydreaming didn't occur nearly as often but one day I was at my computer and I realized I could pull up an image of this little village, I grew very excited and typed in the name and then...........I cried.  This was the picture I saw and it felt like I was actually there.  I sat and blinked through the tears and decided one day I will travel there to make the connection to my family's past, and to my heart.  It has been a long time since that day and I have even traveled to Italy once, but now is the time to take the next step and realize my many childhood fantasies.

This is the only picture I have of Pa Tadone.  It is a little
blurry but it is a picture of a kind, and simple man.  When I look at it, I am mesmerized and try to think of what kind of life the young Giovanni had back in Italy.

I have recently done a little research and found that there are still a few families with the name Andreano living in Rionero Sanittico.  I would like to contact them so I guess it is time to really immerse myself in the Italian language.  I understand and know some of the language but I feel the need to become at least semi-fluent.
One last note, although I have more of a German background and I look mostly German, I have the heart, mind, and soul of my Italian heritage.  It is the force that drives me through my life and keeps me surrounded by beauty!



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GMO Foods.....Wake Up America!!

Let me start with the definition of a GMO food.  The acronym found here translates to Genetically Modified Organisms.  Think about that. To me, it reads, Man Screwing With Nature For Financial Gain.  This brings up several other issues which involve health, ethics, and safety......but to me the drive behind it is greed, WHICH translates to Monsanto.  You can't ever convince me that this conglomerate is just thinking of the people and trying to end world hunger.  There are so MANY varying topics to discuss with this subject but I am going to concentrate on one.  Seeds for the home garden.

I feel the only true way to reduce your chances of being subjected to GMO foods is to grow the food know, self reliance, accountability.  Yes, there is a little work involved but the effort is worth it because you will have peace of mind, a healthier body and let's not forget the fact of taste.  How many of you have bought fresh produce and find that it tastes like cardboard?  What about potatoes, have you peeled them lately to find that they have a green tint just below the brown peel?  I can't quite pinpoint the exact thing that is happening but in my heart I believe it all boils down to G.R.E.E.D.  Fruits and vegetables are sprayed with chemicals to control insects.  A lot of them are harvested too early and then treated to appear ripe because we all know...time is money.  I am frightened by the attitude of many people in that their attitude to what is happening is "I want what I want and I want it now and I don't care how I get it."  This type of person is unfortunately the majority in our country today.

I digress....see what I mean?  It is way too easy to get of on another tangent to this subject :)  Back to my particular take on this subject.  If you would like to take matters into your own hands and grow NON GMO foods, take a trip to your local garden center and look for organic, non gmo seeds.  You will need to experiment to see which varieties awaken your taste buds.  Now, there are two things I am quite certain of and that I can pass along to you in good faith.  DO NOT buy seeds from BURPEE as it is associated with Monsanto.  The only true non-gmo seed company I know of is Botanical Interests Seeds located at and they are also organic.

Trust me, you will have an "aha" moment from the very first harvest of your crops not to mention the pure satisfaction of knowing you grew your food with your own two hands.  The work it takes to provide yourself with great food also gives you the exercise you need...the sun you work out in provides the vitamin D your body needs...and the food you eat provides the healthy diet you need to survive...think about it.

                                                         WAKE UP AMERICA!!!



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Heirloom Tomatoes

Here, you are looking at a bowl of generations worth of seed collecting of the same roma tomato.  This particular roma type tomato is named Sonoma.  This name ( I am told) was researched by a friend of a distant cousin by examining the DNA of the seed itself.  Quite fascinating I must say but I don't seem to find any information on the internet about this particular roma tomato.

All I truly know is what my Nana has told me over the years.  This tomato (it's seed) was brought over from Italy by our family in the 1920's  and the biggest, nicest looking one saved every year to continue the raising of this delectable edible.

The responsibility to carry on the seed saving has been handed down to me and I look forward to every year when I plant the seed and dream of that wonderful tomato aroma and taste.  I love the smell of the tomato leaves because it transports me back to my grandparents farm.  I am at the pink two-story farmhouse with a white wrought iron double front porch, in the tomato section of the garden with my grandfather who is teaching me how to care for these gifts of nature.  As far as the taste, for me, no other tomato can compare.  When I taste these tomatoes that my mouth has been watering for all season, I again, am transported to Nana's kitchen to relish the fresh mozzarella,tomato and basil,drizzled with EVOO on fresh baked bread or the tomato and onion salad and especially the fresh pasta sauce...I am in heaven just thinking about it.  I get CRAZY!  Memory is a powerful thing folks.

The seedlings have their first set of true leaves and my mouth is watering once again!


Golden Chain Tree

Here folks, we have a golden chain tree...not rain tree, like many people mistake it for being.  The latin name for all you gardening aficionados is Laburnum.  In my gardening world, the most popular variety is "Vosii" which is a vigorous grower, especially if given a protected situation from gale force westerly winds.  We want this to be a pretty tree, not looking like Tina Turner's hairstyle :)

The Laburnum is a deciduous tree that is loaded with cascading clear yellow flowers in late spring.  They resemble a wisteria, only in yellow.  Now, I am not a big yellow fan in the garden BUT this tree I have grown and it is unusual enough that it attracts a lot of attention and I feel it also provides elegance to the garden.  It is a relatively small tree growing 15-20 ft. tall and wide.  It is a perfect tree to plant in a flower garden as a focal point.  It is hardy from zone 5a to 7b and requires full sun to partial shade.  It prefers a rich soil and average not over-water.  All parts of this tree are poisonous if ingested and may cause irritation if handled.   One of the nicer things about this tree is that the branches are pliable so you can train them over a structure or even create an espaliered look on a building or fence.

I hope you give this lovely little tree a go in your will NOT be disappointed.


La Notte.....Arisa

My first experience with Arisa is when my dear friend Emanuele sent me the link to the SanRemo Festival video where she quietly got on stage and sang this song.  I, of course fell in love with it immediately and actually obsessed over it, as with all good music that transcends to my ears.  Like a wild man I located the lyrics AND the translation to better understand the story she was singing.  I believe that I would enjoy this song even without the words...the music is so pretty.  Give this a listen and see if you don't love it!!



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tribute To A Beautiful Voice

Anita Cerquetti: a most beautiful voice I had never heard until 2 nights ago.

I have a friend online with whom I have the love of opera in common.  We were comparing our favorite soprano divas and he of course said his was Maria Callas.  I must admit, I was disappointed because although Callas was one of the best in her genre both technically and dramatically, her voice has never moved me inside my heart, which is the reason I listen to opera.  :)

So, getting to the reason for this post.  I thought maybe I could give Callas another listen to maybe prove myself wrong.  I went to YouTube and looked for her singing Casta Diva, which is the measure I use to size up mezzo-sopranos, which are my favorite type of soprano.  I gave Callas another chance, and, stood firm to my opinion.  Afterwards, I started listening to many great mezzos and then saw THIS particular video.  I had never heard of Anita Cerquetti so I decided to give her a try.  This recording is actually a LIVE performance from 1958 when she stood in for Maria Callas because of illness.  How ironic for  I started to listen to the most beautiful and full voice I had ever heard.  There is a richness and deep timbre in her voice that sends me into orbit....and YES, moves my heart enough to bring tears to my eyes!  Give her a listen and try to tell me this is not a PRIMA VOCE!