Sunday, November 27, 2005
'La Befana': The Italian Christmas Witch is on her Way


Your Kids have a wonderful opportunity have a great time learning about their Italian Culture by learning about "La Befana" or better yet by attending a perfprmance.

If you live in the New York or New Jersey area you must make plans to bring your kids to a performance of "La Befana", or contact Dr. Emelise Aleandri to have her bring her performance to your organization.

For those out of the NY/NJ area contact Emelise regarding Performance Rights, and bring it to your town!!!!!

Have Broom, Will Fly
La Befana, the Italian Christmas Witch, Arrives
     The children’s musical play, The Legend of La Befana, will be performed at several area venues this year by Frizzi & Lazzi the Olde Time Italian-American Music & Theatre Company. This musical production, enjoyed by children and adults alike, celebrates Italian tradition and culture for the Christmas holidays. The delightful show, written and directed by Emelise Aleandri, Artistic Director of Frizzi & Lazzi, borrows from many different versions of the Italian myth, and recreates the story of the good Italian Witch who visits children on the eve of the Epiphany and leaves presents for good children but coal, stones and ashes for naughty ones!
Synopsis of the "La Befana " Legend
     Many variations on the ancient legend of La Befana have come down to us by tradition and folklore but the common thread to all the stories is this: on the Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, Twelfth Night, the night of magic when all things can happen, the Magi, three wise and learned Kings from the mystical East, faithfully and determinedly follow the brightest star in the heavens in a relentless search for a newborn king, in order to welcome him. On their long journey, they unexpectedly encounter an old woman, La Befana, as she diligently sweeps her little house and they ask her for directions to Bethlehem. The Kings invite her to accompany them but she declines because she is too busy cleaning her house. They continue on without her but later Old Befana has misgivings and decides to embark on her own long journey in search of! this new mysterious child. Flying through the sky on her magical broom, she never finds him but wherever she does see a sleeping child, she leaves a special gift just in case that one is the newborn king, the Neonato. And she has been fulfilling this purpose on Epiphany eve for centuries.
Characters and Performers
     This musical production of The Legend of La Befana, brings to life an assortment of colorful characters from the legend: La Befana, her angel helper La Vespa, the Three Kings and their Camel, a Shoemaker, a Prophet, A Shepherd, and a Sailor. The Christmas songs are performed in both English and Italian. Performers in this year’s show include:
     Nick Raio (King) has appeared on America's Most Wanted, Law and Order Criminal Intent, The Sopranos and One Life To Live. Film credits include festival winners A-Alike (picked up by HBO), The Fighting Irish, The Wonder, Bellclair Times and the cult favorite, Mob Queen. Numerous commercials include Mylanta.
     Peter Linari (King) has done many film and theatre productions.
     Carmela Scala (Angel) was born and raised in Napoli, came here at 21, earned a BA in Liberal Arts and Psychology at Brooklyn College, then a Masters in Italian and Spanish Literature at Hunter College. She is currently finishing a PhD in Comparative Literature, with a specialty in Literature in Dialect from the Baroque to the Modern Age. She is an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College and St. John’s University.
 &nbs! p;   Ida Corvino Miletich (Piano, Accordion) is an accomplished musician, a teacher of the Italian language at all levels and serves on the Board of several Italian American organizations. She is the President of the Italian American Women's Center, V. P. of the Association of Italian American Educators and a founding member of Friuli-Big Apple, which promotes the culture of the Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the New York area.
         Arnold Migliaccio (Percussion) is the son of the legendary comedian and singer of the Italian immigrant stage, Farfariello. As "Arnie Mig," he is also bandleader of the Serenaders in Blue, the official Glen Miller Marching Band.
    Barry Mitterhoff (Mandolin) is an internationally known freelance musician/teacher who performs in various musical genres.
     Yvonne Mattevi (La Befana) is pursuing a PhD in Com! parative Literature at the CUNY Grad Center. She is a graduate of Stony Brook University which gave her an Award for Excellence in Teaching this year. She teaches Italian through theatre.
     Dr. Richard Sorrentino (Guitar/Mandolin), an educator, is President of the American Italian Cultural Roundtable. The AICR is producing “Jazz ItaloAmericano”on May 4, 2006, a major musical event celebrating the Italian-American contribution to Jazz.  For info: 212 923 7800, ex. 2121.
     Carolena (Flute), an OOBR award winning musician, is a composer of original music and leader of the Electric Mermaid group which has performed at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center. She also leads the jazz group Juicy Flute.
          Jesus A. Del Rosario, Jr (King) was recently seen in Norman Weinstein's play Bullard. He performed in Marjorie Edwards' play Revelations From The Deep: The S! ouls of Black Men and Arthur French III's play Bitter Apples. He just completed principal photography in the independent films, The Tested, Blood Money, The Slow Jam King and The Menace.
  Author and Director
     Dr. Emelise Aleandri (La Strega) is Artistic Director of Frizzi & Lazzi. She has extensive experience in theatre, film and television as both actor and producer and is a published author of books and articles on Italian-American theatre and culture. Her credits include Spike Lee’s films, Crooklyn and Summer of Sam, the Walnut Street Theatre's Italian Funerals and Other Festive Occasions and the teleplay, Penguins and Peacocks as 19th century Ita! lian actress Eleonora Duse. She also produced the documentaries: Teatro, Festa and Circo Rois - Che Bella Vita!
     Frizzi & Lazzi has given successful performances of The Legend of La Befana for many groups in the tri-state area, among them: the Italian-American Women’s Center of Long Island at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Garden City, NY and at St. Patrick’s Church in Glen Cove, NY; in New York City at the Tiro a Segno Organization and the American Italian Cultural Roundtable at Lincoln Center’s Fordham University Campus; the Federation of Italo-American Associations in Astoria and in Flushing; Bella Italia Mia in Maspeth, Queens; Il Club Italiano of Westchester Community College in Valha! lla, New York; the Coccia Institute of Montclair University and the Center for Italian and Italian-American Culture in New Jersey. The Frizzi & Lazzi website ( shows many colorful photos from past productions.
     Frizzi & Lazzi, which means “Sparkling Theatre,” is a music and theatre company of professional actors, singers and musicians dedicated to reviving the delightful musical and theatrical entertainments performed by Italian-American immigrants at the turn of the century. Frizzi & Lazzi is sponsored in part by the New York Metropolitan Chapter of the American Italian Historical Association.
Performances are scheduled as follows:
Sunday, December 11, 2005, 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm.
     Sponsored by The National Organization of Italian-American Women and The United Federation of Teachers Italian-American Committee at 52 Broadway, 2nd floor, New York City (take the 4 or 5 train to Wall Street or the R train to Rector Street). Bring your families and friends, adults and children of all ages, for this celebration of Italian Christmastime tradition and culture. Refreshments will be provided. Children will receive gift bags and biscotti. Admission is free. Reservations required by Dec. 4, 2005. Phone: 212 - 237-8574! . Fax: 212 - 489-6130; Email: NOIAW (445 West 59th Street, Suite 1248, New York, NY 10019) was founded in 1980 and is the only national membership organization for women of Italian ancestry. NOIAW serves to promote ethnic pride through scholarships and cultural, educational and social programs dedicated to women. For more information go to or call 212 - 237-8574. The UFT Italian-American Committee is dedicated to the study and preservation of Italian-American heritage and its many contributions to American culture, the labor movement and the teaching profession. The IAC actively seeks to recruit teaching professionals and support staff who share an interest in this tradition and can offer their experience and skills to achieve the committee’s goals.  UFT members should RSVP George Altomare, Director of Pro! fessional Committees, at 212 598 7772.
Saturday, December 17, 2005, 1 pm
     The North Tonawanda History Museum will welcome La Befana to the 2nd Annual Ethnic Christmas: Italian Christmas at the DeGraff Community Center, 139 Division Street in North Tonawanda, NY. This program is made possible through a grant from Speakers in the Humanities, a program of the New York Council for the Humanities. The Board of Trustees of the North Tonawanda History Museum will honor a number of its volunteers, donors, and other supporters for their contributions in the Museum’s first two years of existence at this event as part of their Italian Christmas program on December 17. The program is free and open to the public. Italian Christmas refreshments, prepared by Barbara Wickman, will be served, including goodies prepared from recipes in the 1956 “Wurlitzer Centennial Cookbook,” many of which originated with the Wurlitzer family over three generations. Parking is available behind the Community Center, which is located between Tremont Street and Christiana Street. Call the Museum at 716 213-0554 or email at for further information. The mission of the North Tonawanda History Museum, located at 314 Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, NY. 14120, is to assemble, preserve, protect, and exhibit collections pertaining to the history of North Tonawanda, its people and community life, focusing especially on our rich immigrant heritage and role as an important shipping and manufactur! ing center strategically located on the historic Erie Canal and Niagara River in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a research and educational institution, it is both an active participant in the historical and cultural tourism focus of North Tonawanda and a focal point for students of all ages to participate in historical studies and activities of the City.
Saturday, December 18, 2005, 3 pm
     Dante Hall Theatre of the Arts, located at 14 N. Mississippi Avenue (adjacent to St. Michael’s Church) in the heart of Atlantic City New Jersey’s “Ducktown” neighborhood, presents this musical play (A Family Series Event – Tickets $5) that will delight the entire family. Dante Hall Theatre of the Arts, an intimate 243-seat theatre, seeks to serve Atlantic City and the surrounding communities as a vital cultural center. To achieve the goal! of the development of new audiences, Dante Hall, a member of the South Jersey Cultural Alliance (SJCA), presents a diverse range of professional and amateur performances with the goal of attracting a wide variety of patrons who will come to see Dante Hall as their home for the performing arts. For member press releases as well as downloadable photos, the media is invited to visit the SJCA pressroom at This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State through the Local Arts Development Grant Program administered by the Atlantic County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs. For Tickets and Information contact: Joanna Sykes-Saavedra, Executive Director 609-344-8877;
Dr. Emelise Aleandri, Artistic Director
Frizzi & Lazzi The Olde Time Italian-American Music & Theatre Company
President, Metropolitan New York Chapter American Italian Historical Assn.
140 Riverside Drive #1P NYC 10024-2605
212 769 8920; fax 212 769 2078; cell 917 821 1036