Opera fans clamor for brush with Italian star

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 187 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — Opera fans attending a rare U.S. performance by Italian opera singer Anna Caterina Antonacci were still talking about the star’s Moon River encore as they were filing in the door of Betty Harrison’s historical home on Mt. Nord.

Harrison, with a couple of talented vocalists of her own — daughters Amanda Robinson and Rebecca Harrison — hosted a post-concert get-together for Antonacci and her pianist, Donald Sulzen, that lasted till nearly midnight Tuesday (April 3).

With the exception of Moon River, which she did in English, the rest of Antonacci’s three-hour solo recital was in Italian and French. The experience was one not soon to be forgotten by the full house at the University of Arkansas’ Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall.

It was at the urging of local opera enthusiast Christopher Lacy that Antonacci made her southern U.S. stop. She even wore a shawl that was gift from Lacy, as well as a necklace and ring designed by Rebecca Harrison.
Antonacci’s only other stops on the tour will be at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York; and a venue in Montreal.

Looking no worse for wear from her performance at Stella Boyle Smith, Antonacci entered the champagne reception with Lacy and Sulzen in tow (the three bantered back and forth in Italian). The crowd of 30 or so — still jazzed from the show — greeted the trio with applause and quiet congratulations. She and Lacy later shared chocolate-covered strawberries in a corner of Harrison’s dining room. BHK Kafe’s David Lewis provided a gluten-free apple spiced cake and chocolate rum roulade that competed for guests’ attention.

For a review and photos of Antonacci’s performance, go here.