Great Opera Singer in Lauderdale

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Virginia Zeani in an operatic role

Virginia Zeani, a legend of opera, will be honoured at Cinema Paradiso in Ft. Lauderdale on Sept. 28.

The Venetian Arts Society presents their Gala Anniversary Salon to open the 2013-2014 season. The Salon will be a tribute to Zeani, a truly Legendary International Star of Opera.

“For those who love Opera, this will be a night to remember,” enthused William Riddle, Founder and Executive Director of the Venetian Arts Society. “Mme. Zeani, born in 1925 in Solvastru, Romania, became one of Italy’s most celebrated and appreciated artists during the 1950s and a contemporary of such artists as Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland.

Mme. Zeani is legendary for performing the role of Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata a record 648 times and in 71 opera roles in her 35 year performing career!” The "Gala Salon" will begin at 6:30 pm with a cocktail hour in the Cinema Paradiso Courtyard. At approximately 7:15, guests will move inside the theater for a film documentary presented by Venetian Arts Society and produced by William Riddle Productions, LLC.

This film will feature highlights of Mme. Zeani’s illustrious career with rare videos, photographs, recordings, and a recorded interview with Mme. Zeani giving us personal insight into her artistry and life. Mme. Zeani will be in attendance and joined on stage for a “Conversation” with close friends, Roger Beaumont; New Zealand historian, currently finishing a new book, The Life and Times of Soprano, Virginia Zeani, Mario Hamlet-Metz, internationally renowned opera historian, lecturer, and writer, and Wayne Kleinstiver, Chair of Vero Beach Opera Studies.

The evening will conclude with a champagne reception in the Cinema Paradiso Courtyard after the ceremony, offering guests the rare and unique opportunity to meet one of the greatest opera singers of the 20th century, Virignia Zeani. An exceptionally beautiful woman with dark, lustrous hair, Virginia Zeani initially specialized in lyric/coloratura roles. Then, in the 1970s she moved to more dramatic parts, maintaining nearly all of her vocal allure while adding a dimension of larger-scaled authority.

Celebrated most of all for her touching Violetta, she made her career primarily in Europe. Beginning in the early '80s, however, she moved to the U.S. with her husband, Italo-Russian bass Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, to become a faculty member at Indiana University and continued to teach there following his death in 1991. The Gala Salon Tribute to Virginia Zeani is made possible by "Dr. Diva" Harriet Mertz and produced by William Riddle Productions, LLC with proceeds going to Venetian Arts Society.

You can learn more about Venetian Arts Society at and about Virginia Zeani at

Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist currently affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute. He did his PhD work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 12 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honour by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1990.

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