La Jolla concert will feature Italian holiday music from Cristina Fontanelli


International singing star Cristina Fontanelli will perform a program of Italy’s best-loved songs, arias, Neapolitan and Christmas classics during her first San Diego “Christmas In Italy” concert, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive.

The holiday concert is in its eighth year in New York City.

For the show, Fontanelli will be accompanied by piano, mandolin, guitar and accordion to evoke the authentic Italian flavor of the music. The Italian Cultural Center of San Diego’s Children’s Choir will join her as a way to accomplish her goal of preserving such musical gems for future generations.

The San Diego program will also feature classical mandolin artist Chris Acquavella and guitarist Joe Amato.

Called a “vocal genius” by the New York Sun, Fontanelli’s show is a love letter to her Italian heritage and a tribute to her grandparents, who kept their traditions alive in their new country.

“I decided to begin this tradition of performing holiday favorites and well-known songs and arias because of my concern that Italian folk and classical music is quickly becoming a lost art,” she said in a video describing the program.

Her repertoire will include works by Donizetti, Tosti, and Puccini, along with the classics “Torna A Surriento,” “Ave Maria,” and the Italian Christmas song “Tu Scendi dalle Stelle” (You Came Down From The Stars). Born in Brooklyn, she is a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and attended The Juilliard School.

Her CD, “Cristina Fontanelli Sings Great Italian Favorites,” is available.

The Brooklyn-born singer was awarded the OSIA Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts (previous recipients include Luciano Pavarotti), and has been cited as one of the top alumni of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has been named “Woman of the Year” by many Italian organizations throughout the country.

Tickets are $38-$48 at (800) 838-3006 and