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Thursday, March 24, 2011

My wonderful New York life!!

Dear readers and friends,

After the BLOG of last week all dedicated to my Country Italy today’s BLOG is all about my latest adventures in NYC.
Since a few days it’s officially Spring and today it’s snowing.  Never the less life is still beautiful and busy for me. And I really enjoy every second of it.
I’m getting ready for my last Concert in NYC this coming Saturday at the piano Room of  Etcetera Etcetera at 8PM. I will be performing with my whole band a Tribute to Women, since March is Women History month. I will be singing all my favorite songs of some incredible Divas of the music, some incredible artists and human being, like Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, Karen Carpenter, Edith Piaff, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, Mina, Ornella Vanoni, Nada, Ella Fitzgerald and so many more.
Then next week, the 29th, I will finally fly back home to Venice and I will be there for the whole month of April.
I’m looking forward to see my family and friends as you can imagine. And even if I have some work to do, some appointments to go, I will also make sure that I will have the time to relax so to be recharged and get ready to take the stage full of energy when I’m back, in May.

On stage with the flags
Last week on Thursday it was the 150th Anniversary of the Unity of Italy. Even if I’m in NYC, I had the honor to celebrate my country with a very nice and positive event. I was invited to perform a few songs for Italy at the Celebration held at the Christ the King Theatre in Queens organized by Tony DiPiazza and Tony Mule' of the "Associazione Culturale Italiana di New York. My dear friend and founder of ICN radio Sal Palmeri, was the MC of the night. Many were the guests that made the night very special and more than 1000 the attendees. They had invited some artists from Italy like tenor Aldo Bianchi e Italian superstar Wilma Goich who really brought back so many memories to the audience while singing her hit songs. I shared the dressing room with Wilma and I must say that I discover one of the most wonderful human being, a very splendid person. Such a lady!!
With Joe Nastasi. Wilma Goich and Salvo Randazzo before the show

In a matter of fact we will see each other in Rome in April for a dinner and more fun. She was there with her daughter Susanna Vianello, also so adorable and so nice. I’m so looking forward to see them both soon in my beloved ROME!!
The audience

Other guests were tenor Salvo Randazzo and Baritone Lawrence Harris. Everybody was so nice and talented.
General Counsel of Italy in NY Francesco. Talo'
The Italian counsel of Italy in NY, Francesco Maria Talo’, attended also the celebration and brought to us the regards of President Barak Obama. It was also so wonderful to hear from wonderful Dr. Silvana Mangione the story of the first flag of Italy and to see on stage the first Italian flag ever. If you wonder why the colors Green, White and Red, Dr. Mangione said that the colors where chosen to represent Italy: so Green like Italy’s valleys, White like the snow of the Italian’s Mountains and Red like the stream of lava of the Italian’s volcanoes. It was so nice to learn that!!
Show time at Christ the King
I performed two songs, “Io che non vivo senza te”,"You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", who's a Venetian songs just like me written by Pino Donaggio, and one of the most famous Italian songs” Volare” that got the whole audience singing with me while they were waiving their flags full of pride. It was such a great event and I was so proud to be part of it.
And after the show, being an Italian celebration, of course we went all together, singers and the people of the Organization, for a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant near the Theatre.
A wonderful Italian Night in the city!!

Well if you are my FB friends you know that I spend my Sunday at the Emergency Room due to my low blood sugar after my gym routine. I stupidly I decided to skip breakfast before my gym and I ended up fainting. As I always say ”life is a live and learn journey” and I leaned now that I need to sleep and eat more regularly. By now you must know me enough to know that I’m always on the run. I love my life and I love my job and I try not to miss a thing!! But I will try not to forget to eat from now on!!  The ER for 5 hours wasn’t that much fun after all!!

With Joey after the TV show
Live auction of Rao's Table

Keep talking about wonderful things yesterday night I went to the taping of the television show “All Night with Joey Reynolds” on NBC. Joey Reynolds is a dear friend of mine and he’s a legend in the world of radio. He’s one of the most respected and well-known radio presenters in the USA. I had the honor to meet Joey a few years a go while having dinner at one of the most exclusive places in NYC, Rao’s. Joey is a dear friend of movie producer and dear friend Sonny Grosso who owns a table at Rao’s on Monday night. Yes Rao’s is a restaurant that has sold his tables, so you’ll get in only if you are guest of somebody who owns a table. It’s a very nice place and it is always an experience to be there. And as you can imagine since you can’t get in unless you are invited by a table’s owner, Rao’s is very famous and many are the people who dream one day to get in. In a matter of fact many times owners of Rao’s Tables offer their table to collect money for various benefit. I’ve seen people biding during live auctions as high as $25.000 for a table there. And you should know that that money doesn’t include the dinner, only the table for 6 for one night!!
At Rao's with Sonny and Chriss
With Rao's owner actor Frank Pellegrino

At Rao's with Eli and Plax
Every time you’ll get to meet a famous someone at Rao’s. It can go from a movie celebrity like Robert DeNiro or a world famous singer like Rod Stewart, to a US President like Bill Clinton. It’s incredible. I got to meet there many people thanks to Sonny. Of course you can’t always take pictures but I did it when I met the famous American Footballs players Plaxico Burress, and Eli Manning of the NYC Giants and the owner of the team, Robert Tisch. A funny thing about my meeting with Plaxico is that I got to meet him, just one week before the accident who brought him to jail, for shooting himself of his leg with an illegal gun.I always wonder if he had that gun also the night I meet him!! And I got to meet Mr. Tisch the night I had performed at the prestigious Cabaret Feinstein’s of NYC. Since he owns also the Regency Hotel, where the Feinstein’s is located, and since I was staying at the Regency for that night, he had a nice joke with me for the whole night telling everybody at Rao's that I was sleeping at “his place” that night. Very funny man, very wealthy with passion for beautiful women!! Well Raos’ is a special place very small and no matter who you are, and no matter who the other people there are it’s like being all friends having fun and good food. A very unique place.

Talking with Joey and the other guests
And thanks to Rao’s and Sonny I got to meet Joey Reynolds that has become a dear friend as well and a great supporter of my music and talent.

More talking with Joey

So last night at 8PM I went to the studio. The beautiful studio is in Time Square in the NASDAQ Building. People can see the studio from Times Square so it was nice to perform and do the interview with Joey and see the tourists outside the window watching and waiving their hands saying hallo to us. It was like being in a fish ball!!
I was just a few minutes into the studio, around 8PM, when Joey asked to go outside in Times Square with him to say hallo to the strollers followed by a TV cameras, and to ask questions to them. It was a very nice experience to see how people react to the cameras in NYC. The real new Yorkers try to avoid them and the tourists come to you with curiosity. So I was outside with Joey for like 20 minutes and we got to meet so many tourists that were enjoying the light of Time Square and some new Yorkers as well. Then it was time for me to get into the studio to do my make up. Yes I had the courage to be on the cameras without makeup. But hey you can’t say no to such a fun invitation right??
Piera working her magic on me
So I went into the studio where my wonderful makeup artist and great friend Piera Canu  was waiting for me. Piera had just arrived from Italy. She was so sweet to come there to do my makeup directly from the airport.


She’s for sure one of my angles!! Piera was working her magic on me while I was told about the schedule of the program: interview and one song at the end of the first hour of the show.  Witch during the taping would have means that I was to go on around 11PM, while tomorrow night it would be broadcast around 1Am. It was so wonderful to get interviewed by Joey. He’s such a pro and with me always so sweet and so kind. The time flew by so quickly that it was time for me to move over to the singing spot to perform live “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”.  After I sang,  Joey joined me on stage and asked me a few more questions about the show of next Saturday. He also  asked me to sing a few bars of a Carpenters song. Joey said that nobody can sing a Karen Carpenters songs like I do. That was a great compliment. I actually added that I also think that nobody can sing like Karen Carpenter but I added that I maybe sing her songs so beautifully just because I love her so much!! And I sang for him a cappella a few bars of “Close To You”.

Talking with Joey after I sang

Before I knew it was over. It was midnight and time to go home.
Cool Breeze adjusting my MIC before the show
With Todd Robbins and Bob Greenberg

It was such a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to go back again. I got also to meet on the set so many wonderful people of the Joey’s team. And got to meet all the other wonderful guests, like funnyman Bob Greenberg, funny girl Ester Ku and great magicians Todd Robbins, who by the way eat a lamp live during the show!! So much fun all-alone!! I’m looking forward to see Joey Saturday at my show and to see him tonight on TV together with me!!

Those were of my adventures in the city for this week. I’m getting ready for more fun this coming Saturday at my Concert and I hope some of you dear readers and friends can make it  to the show!!
With Joe Valenti, the director

With Bob Gilligan
And stay tunes for my next BLOG for more about my beautiful country Italy, my adventures in NYC, my passion for music, and so much more!!

Love always,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Italian night in NYC

Dear friends,

My BLOG today is dedicated to my own country Italy, a place I love with all my heart!! This coming Thursday, March 17th it will be the 150 anniversary of the Unity of Italy and I will have the honor to perform in honor of this special Celebration in Queens at the Christ the King Theatre at an event organized by the Associazione Culturale Italiana Di New York.
So even if I’m living in NYC, Italy is still in every day life, actually even more than when I was in Italy. Living in a foreign country really made me appreciate more my own Italy and my being Italian. And I get to meet so many people that just like me embrace their Italian heritage with so much passion and devotion.

With the wonderful Gina Biancardi & Toni Elliott
Last Friday I was invited to attend the Annual Gala of the Scuola D’Italia Guglielmo Marconi in NYC. The elegant Gala attended by more than 500 people took place in the beautiful Cipriani on 42nd Street. I was invited by the Gina Biancardi to be her guest at the table of Casa Belvedere.
Gina it’s for sure one of the most wonderful persons I met thanks to my music.
Gina is a wonderful mother of three that had the dream to do something to promote and divulgate Italian culture in America. So in November 2008, together with her husband Luciano, they purchased a beautiful mansion in Staten Island, the island across Manhattan, with the dream of restoring it to its original splendor while converting it to an arts and cultural center for the community to enjoy.
Casa Belvedere
The name of this incredible splendid place is Casa Belvedere. Well Casa Belvedere has for sure an impressive view from its location at 79 Howard Avenue in Staten Island. Casa Belvedere, is a New York City historic landmark, and sits on nearly three acres atop Grymes Hill and boasts a spectacular view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the New York City Harbor.
With wonderful Toni Eliott
Vito Catalano a wonderful friend and the official photographer of ALL the Italian Events in NYC!!
It is so wonderful to see how a young woman like Gina with her dedication and enthusiasm to preserve and promote an appreciation of Italian language, arts, literature, history, fashion, cuisine, has been able to create such a wonderful place like Casa Belvedere where people can attend innovative programs to lean Italian, but also see beautiful and interesting exhibits, and music and cultural events. The Casa Belvedere plans to officially open its doors to the restored mansion in September of 2011, but they are already doing so many wonderful events and offering already a variety of classes to learn Italian for toddlers, children, teens and adults. They are also had for the first time in 2010 a Summer Camp for Children of Ages 7-9. The acquisition of language skills at an early age can for sure facilitate academic success in the future and during their summer camp of Casa Belvedere really is able to engage the children in learning activities fun and stimulating. The children are learning language and culture through games, music and group activities and this is for sure the best way to go with young kids. Some of the Summer Camp activities included learning Latin roots, something I learned in Italy too and that was very useful for me in the beginning of my stay in the USA when my English was basic, but they also teach the kids to appreciate Italian foods, making Carnevale masks and some very typical Italian card games like Assoprendetutto, Sette e mezzo and Tombola.
So they really create little Italian souls at Casa Belvedere.

And as you can imagine I can’t wait to be at Casa Belvedere with my musicians to bring some Italian culture at this beautiful place.

I’m so honored to be friend of Gina a very inspiring person that follow her passion to create a unique place for the Italian lovers where people can learn the language but also learn everything Italian, like our traditions, our dishes and everything else about being Italian. And I surely love her uplifting and happy personality!! Gina has for sure my friendship and my support. She’s great!

The dancing fun!!
So it was wonderful to be guest of her table. The Gala of the Scuola d’Italia was very well attended. Almost all the important people of the Italian community where present, like the Italian Ambassador of the United Nation, Mr. Terzi and the Italian Consul in NYC Mr. Talo’.
To make the event very fun was the presence of the students of the school. They had actually a very active role: they sang the Italian, the American and the European Anthems and of course they dance like crazy when the music started to play!!
It was wonderful to see many young kids behaving greatly and still acting like teenagers. The Scoula D’Italia is doing for sure a great work. Those kids can speak perfect Italian and English.
La Scuola d'Italia “Guglielmo Marconi” was founded in 1977 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet the academic needs of Italians living in the New York City area.
The students singing the Italian National Anthem 
Thanks to an increasing interest on the part of the American families, La Scuola has grown into a unique bilingual and bi-curricular education institution, from the Preschool level through Liceo (grades 9-12), reflecting the best features of the Italian and American instruction systems.
La Scuola is committed to fostering international understanding and openness in order to prepare students to become citizens of the world. La Scuola d’Italia is also legally recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education and chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York as a private, independent, co-educational American school.
With my dear friend Contessa Francesca Baldeschi
Master of Ceremony was my dear friend and presenter of the popular TV program in “Brindiamo”, my fellow Italian Ornella Fado. Of course being in NYC for 6 years now I really got to know a lot of people in the Italian community, so it was fun to see all my friends.
With Ornella Fado MC of the night
A perfect NYC night with great friends and so much proud Italians and even more Italian lovers.
Thank you Gina for the invitation and congratulation for her wonderful Casa Belvedere!! Check it out it is a wonderful place!!

And stay tuned for my next adventures!!
 Love always,
Giada Valenti

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An empowering and fun International Women's Day Celebration

Cari amici,

Yesterday was March 8th, International Woman’s Day, Festa delle Donne.
If you know me a little bit by now, you know that I believe that every day should be Woman’s Day, and so everyday should be Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day!! Love should be given everyday!!
But yesterday I was invited to be part of the celebration of Women’s Day by a dear friend, Italian radio DJ Rita Monte and her organization “Italian American Women Center”, so I did go and it was a lot of fun.

International Woman's Day:  (IWD) is marked on March 8 of every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. It started as a political event but slowly the holiday blended in the culture of many countries.
Nowadays in Italy for instance, the day has lost its political flavor, and it’s simply an occasion for men to express their love to the women around them in a way somewhat similar to Mother's Day and St Valentine's Day mixed together. In other countries, however, the political and human rights theme as designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.
The IWD is also celebrated as the first spring holiday, as in the listed countries the first day of March is considered the first day of the spring season. The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it came to commemorate also the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
The building on fire
And this event was also brought to the attention at last night dinner. This was a horrible tragedy that cost the lives of 147 workers, manly Jewish and Italian women, mainly still in their teens killed by the fire or their desperate leaps to the ground to escape the heat and flames. This year Mach 25th 2011 will mark the one hundred anniversary of one of the most important events in the history of the U.S. labor movement. On that date, one hundred years ago, a fire broke out on the top three stories of a relatively new building just East of Washington Square Park, which housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, a large manufacturer of women’s clothes (a building which today houses New York University classrooms).
The tragedy
Though the building was modern and advertised as fire-proof, the cramped layout of the factory space, large piles of flammable materials, locked doors, inadequate fire escape, and the inability of New York City fire truck ladders to reach high enough to rescue the people trapped by the flames led to a staggering loss of life.

The first women's rights strikes
The idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions, and events like this really gave more ground to it. By urban legend, women from clothing and textile factories staged one such protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. The garment workers were protesting against very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.

Yesterday night party was very inspiring and serious event but it was also a very outgoing and happy.
The menu
I went there with Maria Gallina, a dear friend of mine that picked me up. We were at the party on time even if we got lost 1 minute from the destination according to the GPS. So we had a lot of fun already in the car try to understand what was going on with the GPS, or Miss Julie as we named her. Thank God we stopped a woman on the street and she gave us the good directions, human beings still better than GPS apparently!!

The party was in a nice restaurant. They had arranged a private room for the attendees so we had some privacy. On the wall in the room they had put posters with some very the biography of some accomplished women that have with their talents and their dedications in their fields of work really changed the lives of so many women of future generations.  We could walk around and read them. Very empowering and was very interesting.

With Rita Monte & Vincenza Russo
The Italian American Women’s’ Center is a non profit organization dedicated to facilitates networking within the Italian American women’s community, to promote personal and professional development of women through seminars, educational programs and cultural exchanges, they also schedule outing to concerts, study tours and cultural and social events. They promote also the study of the Italian culture and language and they help to pursuit a higher education by providing mentoring programs and financial support in the form of scholarships.
A very dedicated group of women.
I understood last night that actually it is was the effort of the President of this organization, Vincenza Russo, a wonderful woman who’s also a great supporter of my music, that actually made possible that last year during the Italian Cultural Month celebration, for the first time a woman for chosen by the Italian Heritage and Culture Month Committee of New York. The theme of last year Italian Month celebration was indeed “A Salute to Italian and Italian American Women Honoring Dr. Maria Montessori”. As Vincenza said, we just have to try to accomplish something we really believe in and things will happen.
So I really enjoyed very much the inspiring night. Of course I also got to meet many new interesting people, like famous soprano and wonderful lady Mirella Sanseviero, Rosalba Campitiello, a very talented interior designer of the rich and famous and the very nice Felicia Gazzara, yes the cousin of my wonderful friend, actor Ben Gazzara. And of course I got to see again some people I had not seen in a while, like my dear friend Rita Monte, who invited me to the event.
With my friend Maria Gallina, Interior Designer of the rich and famous Rosalba Capitiello and famous soprano Mirella Sanseviero
Rita does a very popular radio program “Profumi D’Italia” and it was fun to get to meet some her listeners that have been listening to my music for a while and that I had never met before. Always nice.

With Rita and the Mimosa Cake
The dinner was great and it ended with the very traditional Italian Woman’s day cake: Torta Mimosa.

Well yellow was the color we were asked to wear, at least a hint of it. As you can see I wore foulard!!
If you wonder why yellow, well it’s because yellow is the color of the traditional flower that we have in Italy for woman’s day: the mimosa indeed.
In Italy, to celebrate this day, men give yellow mimosas to women.

With Mirella Sanseviero, Felicia Gazzara, Ida Corvino and Rita Monte

Last night there was no mimosa though for us. Actually I have never seen a Mimosa in the USA. Unfortunately it’s not growing in the USA!!

I have so many memories of this day. As a child it was the day that daddy was brining home Mimosas for his ladies: me, mom and grandma and so did also Grandpa Ruggero.
Later it is has been a moment to celebrate with “girlfriends” only. There are a lot of parties for women’ only!! You can imagine the madness and the fun of those parties!! Men are aloud in only after midnight! And what happen at those parties before midnight: stays at those party!!
Only one thing to say: for me the fun was to see the so colled”good girls” of the village going wild and behind and fighting for the first row for the Chippendale ‘s show!! That was the Show in the show for me!!!
With wonderful Rita and Maria
And since yesterday I have also an American memory of this day, a very inspirational and fun one for sure. If women stick together they can rule the world and man are of course all the way there to rule with us!! I’m definitely not a feminist and I believe that respect among men and women is the key of harmony, peace and success!! Respect and unity one to another.

And since you may want to try the delicious Woman’s Day Cake: Torta Mimosa, here is how to make it:
Mimosa cake
Mimosa Cake, a sweet treat filled with a delicious cream and flavored with Italian lemon.
Servings 8
For sponge cake
2 ½ oz all-purpose flour
2 ½ oz potato starch
5 oz sugar
6 eggs
For Chantilly cream
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3 ½ oz sugar
1 oz all-purpose flour
1 lemon zest
½ stick vanilla
7 oz cream
1 ¾ oz powdered sugar
For syrup
1 cup water
½ cup Kirsch (dry cherry liqueur)
3 oz sugar
1 hour and 30 minutes preparation
To make sponge cake, whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixer until firm. 
Then gently fold in, little by little, the flour and potato starch, sieved together, using a spatula. 
Once the mixture is smooth, pour it into 2 cake tins, that have been buttered and floured; then bake at 325° F for 45 minutes. 
Once cooked, allow the sponge cakes to cool.
While the sponge is in the oven, make the Chantilly cream, by mixing the whipped cream with confectioner’s custard. See below on how to make the confectioner’s custard.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar, and then put it in the refrigerator.
Make the confectioner’s custard as follows. Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and put them in a bowl. 
Using a potato peeler, take the zest off a lemon, being careful not to take any of the white part underneath. In a pot, bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla seeds and the lemon zest. 
As soon as the milk starts boiling, remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks with the sugar. 
Add the flour, previously sieved, and mix well.
Once the mixture is smooth, dilute it with a bit of warm milk, stirring while adding. Pour the remaining milk through a sieve to remove the lemon zest. 
Put back the mixture over the heat and cook over a low heat for 5 - 10 minutes stirring continuously, allowing it to boil for 2 – 3 minutes.
Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool. 
Once the confectioner’s custard is cold, fold it in the whipped cream.
To make the syrup, to be used to soak the sponge. Bring to boil a mixture of water and sugar so that the latter dissolves. Once dissolved, remove from the heat and add some Kirsch.
When all the ingredients are ready, assemble the cake as described below.
Step 1
Cut one sponge into horizontal layers about 0.4 inches thick.

Step 2
Line a glass bowl about 8 inches in diameter with bands of baking paper. Arrange a layer of sponge on the bottom of the bowl.

Step 3
Using a small brush soak the sponge with the Kirsch syrup.

Step 4
Spread a layer of Chantilly cream on top of the sponge and cover with another slice of sponge. Repeat the operation for 3 sponge layers. Then, put the cake in the refrigerator and allow it to rest for 30 minutes or so.

Step 5
Cut the second sponge into dices 0.2 - 0.4 inches in size.

Step 6
Turn out the cake onto a plate.

Step 7
Coat the outside of the cake with the remaining cream.

Step 8
Spread the sponge dices over the top of the cake to cover the entire cake.

So Happy Cake to you all and W the women and the men who loves us too!!