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Onesti ready to rock Evanston

Onesti Entertainment opened three new food and music venues in one place at the former 27 Live building in Evanston in January. After almost two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations, Rock ’N Ravioli Italian restaurant, Bourbon ’N Brass speakeasy bar and the Evanston Rocks music hall are now in full swing. Rock ’N Ravioli serves up recipes from the family kitchen of founder and CEO Ron Onesti. The “Rock ’N Rav” menu boasts an array of homemade fillings and sauces, including braised short ribs and potato, chicken Vesuvio, lobster and asparagus, and pumpkin with a Frangelico ...

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First-ever Bracciole Fest at Casa Italia

The Chicagoland Italian American Professionals will host its first annual Bracciole Fest from 2 to 5 p.m. on March 24 in the Chandelier Room at Casa Italia in Stone Park. Home cooks are invited to present their versions of the famous Italian stuffed meat roll for attendees to sample and judge. Prizes will be awarded for the best bracciole. To be a contestant, call CIAP Executive Director Salvatore Sciacca at 312-617-5031. Tickets to attend are $15 for members and $30 for non-members and include sampling of the bracciole, wine, pasta and salad. Admission can be paid in advance at www.chicagolanditalians.com ...

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Passero murals capture spirit of Avondale

When the Avondale Neighborhood Association asked Tony Passero to paint a pair of murals beneath the Metra viaduct on Kedzie near Belmont, the artist wanted to conjure something that reflected the spirit of the community. Having grown up in the neighborhood, he was in a unique position to tap into that spirit. He first went in search of the one word that best captures the essence of Avondale, but came up with a whole list instead: Strength, Grit, Perseverance, Ambition, Resilience, Hardiness, Motivating, Persistence, Tenacity, Diligence, Dedication, Commitment, Fortitude, Dignity, Honor, Passion, Vitality, Grace, Poise, Elegance, Finesse, Flexibility, Decency, Agility, ...

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Harris Theater ‘L’Orfeo’ underscores Monteverdi’s genius

All concerned at the very handsome Harris Theater are to be congratulated for staging Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” the first of the three works by that composer to be performed as part of the windup of the international ‘Monteverdi 450’ tour. (A production of this trio of early operas concluded the tour at the Lincoln Center in New York.) For one like myself, who has experienced and has come to love opera based on seeing and hearing operas strictly from the Classic and Romantic periods (Mozart through Puccini) for over half a century, “L’Orfeo” definitely presented some revelations. Most importantly, Claudio Monteverdi ...

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Casa film series spotlights acclaimed director

Casa Italia devotde its fall film series to the works of acclaimed Italian film director Vanna Paoli. A co-writer of the Oscar-winning “Cinema Paradiso,” Paoli went on to direct nine films of her own. (See profile below.) Now living in the northern suburbs of Chicago, was on hand to offer insights into the creation of all four of the films in the series. A profile appears below. The films in the series were as follows. Friday, October 20 – “Cinema Paradiso” Young Salvatore Di Vita discovers the perfect escape from life in his war-torn Sicilian village: the local movie house ...

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Chicago to fete Monteverdi in grand fashion

The serious opera lover would have to go back over half a century, when Maria Callas made her American debut, to find a more prestigious Chicago event than the Monteverdi 450, scheduled for October 12, 13 and 15 at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. On each of these three dates, one of Claudio Monteverdi’s extant operas will be performed – “L’Orfeo” (1607), “Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria” (1639) and “L’incoronazione di Poppea” (1642). The performing company is doing an international tour of selected cities, and Chicago is the American première. The only other place in the United States where ...

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Italian pop legend di Capri performs at Casa Italia

One the most popular Italian singers made a once-in-a-lifetime appearance at Casa Italia in Stone Park, courtesy of Ron Onesti and Onesti Entertainment. Over the course of a stellar half-century career, Peppino di Capri has released nearly 250 recordings and appeared at the Festival of Sanremo more than any other singer. (See profile below.) In October, he embarked on a 50th anniversary tour that included a stop on Oct. 18 at the Festival Center on the Casa Campus. The show was originally scheduled for the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, but Onesti wanted to bring di Capri closer to his ...

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A review of “The Magic Flute” at the Lyric

Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” live, produced by one of the world’s foremost opera companies1 It doesn’t get much better than that even though it’s a bone-chilling 4 degrees above zero outside the toasty Civic Opera House. Having seen this opera so many times, its characters are like old friends to me, so I expected that the Lyric singers would at least do justice to their roles. I wasn’t disappointed. There are a number of things to say about the “Flute’s” many singers, but before we get into that I would just like to once again voice my supreme admiration for ...

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Chicago finally gets to Cleveland

  I can’t believe it! Rock super group Chicago finally made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! This is epic! For so many years, the fans have clamored for this moment, me among then, and justifiably so. According to Billboard, Chicago was the leading U.S. singles charting group during the 1970s. They have sold over 40 million units in the U.S., with 23 gold, 18 platinum and 8 multi-platinum albums. Over the course of their career they have had five No. 1 albums and 21 top-10 singles. The band is second only to The Beach Boys with ...

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A review of the Lyric’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”

  It has been said about theatrical reviewing that if the reporter writes about the directing, sets and whatnot, then the dramatic performances were probably not all that great. But I will say that the Chicago Lyric Opera 2016-17 staging of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” is one of the very best directed and designed productions I have ever seen. At the same time, however, the performance on Tuesday evening, Nov. 1, was sung magnificently, thanks in great part to the Lyric’s wonderful Lucia, soprano Albina Shagimuratova. Solid conducting, choral and instrumental work all combined to make this performance most memorable. ...

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