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Feinstein's at The Regency
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Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency

by Robert Abrams
April 9, 2007
Feinstein's at The Regency
540 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
212-339-4095
www.cristinafontanelli.com
For booking requests, contact Ward Morehouse at 917-922-7257.
Cristina Fontanelli, who appeared at Feinstein's at The Regency on April 9, opened her set with "With a Song in My Heart" and "I Feel a Song Comin' On" by Rogers and Hart. In this very first song she proved she has a big voice that is bursting with emotion. I liked her already, and she got bonus points for singing a song that is almost certainly compatible with the Peabody, a great dance from the 20s. Who knew that an operatic voice with lots of vibrato could be compatible with Peabody?

She continued to choose emotionally relevant songs by singing "The Italian Street Song" from Victor Herbert's "Naughty Marietta" in honor of her Italian grandfather. This was a cute and fun song from a genre that my father adores.

The show was structured around Ms. Fontanelli retelling the arc of her career while singing relevant songs along the way. Her personal style helped her to make repeated connections with the audience. If you didn't know her before the show, you would have been favorably introduced by the end of the evening.

Ms. Fontanelli was a non-stop dynamo, singing song after song without a break. She sang "Wicked Woman" which was a great slow Cha-cha. She sang "Ich Hob Dir Zuviel Lieb", a Yiddish folk song which loosely translates as "I love you much too much." She expressed real feeling, as well as an ease and purity of tone. The English section of this song is also a Cha-cha. Her Gershwin medley included "Swonderful" and had people swaying. If there had been room, they would have been Charlestoning. She also sang songs that were not on the program, such as "Mamma" and "La Vie en Rose", which shows that she can create a structure and improvise well within it.

A sign of a great artist is her ability to make you want to do things you ordinarily aren't likely to do. Her Edith Piaf section of the show was big and clear and made me want to attend operas. Opera, of course, is Ms. Fontanelli's base. She has been compared to Maria Callas, and for good reason: she can act as well as sing, and she makes every syllable count. However, Ms. Fontanelli held her own in other genres, such as Broadway, with "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from "Evita".

Ms. Fontanelli has performed around the world, including a concert in Uganda and at the Aladdin Hotel in the Catskills early on in her career. In one of those small world coincidences, I have also performed at the Aladdin Hotel in the Catskills, so I have some basis from which to appreciate her dedication to her craft that has taken her from the Catskills to Feinstein's at The Regency.

Ms. Fontanelli was ably accompanied by Dennis Buck on piano, Ray Kilday on bass and Wayne Dunton on drums.

Ms. Fontanelli's lower registers were mostly great and her upper register was fantastic. She had great presence. She performed her songs beautifully, with emotion and depth of voice. She has breadth of range, as well as clarity and crispness of words. The entire show was spectacular.
Cristina Fontanelli

Cristina Fontanelli

Photo © & courtesy of James Kriegsman


Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency (Dennis Buck on piano)

Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency (Dennis Buck on piano)

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency (Dennis Buck on piano)

Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency (Dennis Buck on piano)

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency

Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency

Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency (Dennis Buck on piano)

Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency (Dennis Buck on piano)

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Ray Kilday on bass

Ray Kilday on bass

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency

Cristina Fontanelli at Feinstein's at The Regency

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams

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