Lifestyle: Spotlights

Soprano Cristina Fontanelli

By Ruth Thomas - August 26, 2019

On a lovely summer night under a full moon in July, the beautifully expressive voice of award-winning international soprano, Cristina Fontanelli soared above the packed house in the Tasting Room at Duck Walk Vineyard North in Southold for a blissful evening of opera. Cristina Fontanelli & Her Fabulous Friends sang selections from the world’s most beloved opera arias, duets and Broadway hit tunes including Madame Butterfly, Carmen, La Boheme, Phantom of the Opera, and West Side Story, as well as Neapolitan folk songs. On September 8 at 3 pm, Cristina will perform in September Serenade with Cristina Fontanelli and Her Fabulous Friends at Guild Hall in East Hampton. 

Born in Brooklyn, raised on Long Island and currently living in New York City, Italian-American Cristina Fontanelli has been entertaining people with her amazing voice since the early 1990s. Aspiring at first to be an actress, Cristina graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. It was there that she heard the voice of Maria Callas on the radio, which so influenced her, that soon an opera singer was born! Cristina found the medium of opera perfectly combined her dual gifts as a dramatic actress and talented singer on the stage. Her theatrical storytelling along with her powerful voice commands a stage presence unlike any other, allowing her audience to experience the most intimate feelings of her character’s soul. Her moving rendition of “Un Bel Di” from Madame Butterfly superbly exemplifies her ability to draw her audience into the deep emotions of the persona she is portraying. 

Cristina has been called a “Vocal Genius” in the press and has performed all over the world. She has sung title roles with the Palm Beach Opera, the Cairo Opera, Opera of Hong Kong, the NY Grand Opera, and the NJ State Opera. Cristina has also toured as a solo concert artist in major concert halls throughout Japan, Korea, Italy, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States. She speaks fluent Italian and sings and entertains in nine languages. Cristina has performed annually at Feinstein’s at the Regency Hotel and now at Feinstein’s/54 Below in her classical/crossover style. Forbes Magazine says, “Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein’s at the Regency is like seeing a cross between Maria Callas and Ethel Merman. She has no equal.” 

Cristina has also appeared on television as PBS-TV NY Affiliates host for Andrea Bocelli’s historic concert “Live from Central Park,” also starring Celine Dion, David Foster, and Tony Bennett. Currently she is host of “Michael Buble: Tour Stop” on PBS/WLIW. She just returned from Las Vegas where she won BEST ACTRESS at the Venus International Film Festival, for a principal role in the award-winning short film “SANTINO,” underwritten by a Russo Brothers grant. Cristina has sung at the White House for two presidents – as part of President Bill Clinton’s holiday celebration and at the Stars and Stripes 2005 Inaugural Ball for President George W. Bush. 

Recently Cristina was invited by the Italian government as a “Pugliese nel Mondo” to sing a concert in her grandparents’ home town of Molfetta as a distinguished artist of Pugliese descent and to participate in Bari, Italy in the European Music Conference “MEDIMEX.” In September, Cristina is planning a trip to Tuscany, Italy with her fans and friends to enjoy a week of touring and singing, where, as she says, “you never know what’s going to happen.”

Cristina will produce and star in her 16th Annual “Christmas in Italy®” concert at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, December 8, 2019. This is her biggest show of the year and includes a choir of 80 young people and children on stage. Cristina is currently working on a PBS-TV special of her 16-year running “Christmas in Italy®” concert.

Above all Cristina believes that “music and the arts are valuable, uplifting, and beneficial to society.” Her mission statement for the Cristina Fontanelli Foundation “is to produce family-friendly, value-laden media projects across the spectrum of the media.” Each show that she produces “gives young people performance opportunities on world-class stages and/or with world-class talent; raises funds for charity; gives free tickets to Veterans and the underprivileged.” Cristina’s ultimate goal, in addition to entertaining the public and her mission statement, “is to grow awareness of the scientifically proven health and societal benefits of classical music and the arts.” With her brilliant voice and sophisticated charm, Cristina Fontanelli brings passion, beauty, and grace to all her performances.

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