TRAVERSE CITY — Italian food, Italian wine, Italian song.
That triumvirate of Italian culture comes to Traverse City Oct. 19 when the Traverse City Wine and Opera Festival, the City Opera House and the Bellini Opera Theatre of Michigan present “Viva Verdi 200.”
The event, hosted by area winemakers and friends Mario Tabone and Silvio Tony Ciccone, celebrates the 200th anniversary of composer Giuseppe Verdi and the Year of Italian Culture in the United States. It features a concert at the City Opera House by members of the suburban Detroit-based Bellini Opera Theatre, and an afterglow party at Pepenero at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
“Our friend (owner-chef) Giorgio Lo Greco, will cook eggplant 40 different ways. And cannolis,” said Tabone, owner of Tabone Vineyards and Winery and Tabone Orchards. He’s an opera lover whose cousin is Grammy Award-nominated Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja. “You can’t be Sicilian without cannolis.”
Viva Verdi builds on Tabone and Ciccone’s one-day Traverse City Wine and Opera Festival, which debuted in Oct. 2011 with the Bellini Opera Theatre in a tribute to Mario Lanza. The event went on hiatus in 2012, a bad year for many area farmers.
“It was kind of a disaster for all the owners of orchards and vineyards, with the freeze and all, and Tony and I decided people were hurting. So we skipped a year,” Tabone said, adding that the pair decided to keep the month of October for this year’s event despite the grape harvest that makes it the busiest time of the year for winemakers. This time around, the City Opera House joined as a co-presenter.
Bellini Opera co-founder and baritone Dino Valle said the first half of the concert will feature arias from some of Verdi’s most popular operas, sung in the 17th- and 18th-century Italian “bel canto” style.