That Latin lilt

“Encounters with the Masters” begin next Saturday at Altamura Center in Round Top

by Ann Hutton
August 08, 2011 11:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 200 200 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo of Carmela Altamura by Dion Ogust
Photo of Carmela Altamura by Dion Ogust
Soloist and master class instructor Carmela Altamura is excited about the Summer Institute’s “Encounters with the Masters” taking place at the Altamura Center for the Arts and Cultures this year, even though she and her staff are busy “hammering, cleaning, sewing and giving the concert hall a new facelift” just days before it begins. Two months ago a storm caused damage to the roof, which necessitated the hurried repair of the ceiling and the floor. But the show must go on, as they say.

The Altamura Summer Music Festival kicks off with a program called “Extreme Latin” on Saturday, August 13 at 2 p.m., featuring Lorenzo di Bella, 2005 First Prize winner of the Vladimir Horowitz Piano Competition in Russia, along with noted percussionist and composer Samuel Torres, who will be joined by pianist Cristina Altamura. Di Bella will perform a Liszt transcription of Bellini’s Norma and several other works of Lisztian glory. Torres and Altamura will explore the hypnotic, driving rhythms of the important melodies of Latin American/Iberian music.

“And for the first time our company is presenting theater with a comedy murder mystery, A Shot in the Dark, the adaptation of Marcel Achard’s play L’Idiote,” says the elder Altamura. The play will be performed twice, on Friday and Saturday, August 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. On Sunday, August 21 at 2 p.m., maestro Anton Coppola will conduct a survey of opera written for the Altamura Summer Music Festival, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. The program will feature winners of the International Voice Competition, guest artists and a special guest artist from the Metropolitan Opera, Francisco Casanova, performing “Italian Immortal Love Songs,” by F. P. Tosti, followed by the survey titled “Adventure in Opera.”

This year the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition is being held in three countries. Auditions took place in April in Recanati, Italy; on September 25 and 26 they will continue in Sainte-Therese, Quebec and in New York City on October 27, 28 and 30, finishing off with master classes on October 29. The International Voice Competition has been held each year since 1988. As founder and president, Altamura is proud of the impressive roster of major opera stars who have participated in the Competition and gone on to sing title roles at the Metropolitan Opera, at La Scala and many other major opera houses in the world.

Together with her husband Leonard, Altamura also founded Inter-Cities Performing Arts, a New York/New Jersey-based non-profit organization for the purpose of furthering ethnic, social, professional and cultural relations. Through her work with young, up-and-coming artists, she hopes to inspire in them the mental discipline that she herself utilizes to accomplish her art and life’s work. “It brings me back to the humble source: that what’s been given to me actually goes through me, not to me. I have to serve. And with it comes this inspiration, which puts aside the human element that wants to interfere, to say ‘I’m too tired.’ I’m thrown to say I’m inadequate. As soon as that thought comes to me, God says to me, ‘I am piloting the planet, not you,’ and ‘Are you using your words, or are you using mine?’ I hope the young artists take something from that. You work hard to make a difference in their lives. And when they make space for me to make a contribution, it’s a real joy for me.”

Tickets to performances are $35 for general admission, $25 for seniors and $15 for students, cappuccino included! The Altamura Center for the Arts and Cultures is located at 404 Winter Clove Road in Round Top. For further information and directions, call (518) 622-0070 or visit

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