By Arthur Cola
I can already feel the thundering vibrations of the spectacular Bartolotta fireworks display each night at one of the premier ethnic festivals in America. Festa Italiana opens July 19 and continues through July 22 on the Milwaukee Lake Front’s Maier Festival Park. So get ready to join me and a few thousand friends who will be experiencing the cultural contributions of Italy to our diverse American community and the world scene. You’ll find me in the Arts Tent in the Cultural area of the festival celebrating its 35th year featuring the best of Italian culture.
Exactly what can one expect as examples of Italian Culture? I answer that question with another. What comes to mind when you think about Italy? If you’re like me, thoughts of art, history, music, food and love immediately pop into one’s mind. Thus you have also answered the first question and have already begun your journey to experience the best of Italian culture.
Shall we begin that journey in the Fine Arts Tent as I’m a bit prejudicial knowing all of those who represent the arts. As if walking through Michelangelo’s studio you will observe the creative sculptures of Eugene Orlandini and Valerie Schleicher and the paintings of Yvonne Stevenson, Josh Christensen, Susan Ramholtz and Debra Orlandini. You will encounter the vivid photographic works of Sheila Orlandini and the dazzling jewelry pieces of Valerie Erato, Donna Pogliano and Mary Schall. For unusual and traditional art pieces hold hand painted aprons by Paula Christensen or intricate Christmas ornaments by Maria White. Then stroll over to the round table where you may sit with the literary artists like Paul Salsini and me. We would take great pleasure in sharing with you a bit of our stories as you ask questions about our books, their themes and plots.
As you say good-bye to those in the fine arts tent you will find yourself across from the Italian Cinema exhibit. Films from Italy will be shown in their entirety. You will come to appreciate how Italian film making impacted the entire industry while enjoying Fellini’s Roma or Ferie d’Agosto by Paolo Virzi. In between, Travel films presenting breathtaking scenes of Italian art, history and natural wonders will be shown. Then you might want to come back to the Arts Tent and talk to me about the Tour of Italy planned for this October, 2012 on which you’ll visit many of the sites which are settings in my novels.
Throughout your leisurely stroll the music of Italy will fill your ears and set your heart thumping with joy. The sounds will draw you to one of five musical stages and the Opera tent. From Italian traditional tunes from the likes of Micheal Castaldo, Dick Contino and Giada Valenti to those Italian tenors who bring opera to a new level of energy and then mixing in contemporary music with elegance and pizzazz. It will be a challenge to fit those tenors into your schedules but you’ll not want to miss Matt Morgan, Alfio, or Aaron Caruso to name just three. Then rock your way into the night with The Wanderers, Doo-Wap Daddies, the ABBA tribute band, The Ides of March or Peter Guerin as Elvis and so many more.
Plan on spending the day and night in order to absorb it all. But not to worry the food of Italy whether being demonstrated on the Cuccina Stage by the likes of Rosella Rago or Nick Stellino or enjoyed al fresca at one of the many venues featuring the delights of Italian cuisine will sustain you in grand style. And as you relax under the stars, sipping on wine or nibbling on a cannoli the history of Italy will surround you. I mention in particular the replicas of Michelangelo’s David at the main gate and Pieta on display in the Religious Arts tent as they are important elements of the plot in two of my books. And like the great Bernini Colonnade of St. Peter’s in Rome you will feel embraced by that one emotion which is more powerful than any other, LOVE. For you shall feel it in the music, taste it in the cuisine, observe it in the arts and hear it in the fireworks.
(Arthur Cola is the author of four novels and screenplays. Below is a comment about the book from R.S. in Wisconsin, as well as a bit of its mystery tale.
I just finished reading your “The Brooch”. Loved it. Wonderful story, excellent writing and a most welcome message about love.
Producer/Director Ron Kolman is developing his screenplay, “Ring of the Magi.”)