Downstage at the Grotta To Host Caranza and Cheryl Warfield

Downstage at the Grotta To Host Caranza and Cheryl Warfield

Grotta Azzurra Ristorante, located on the corner of Broome and Mulberry Streets in one of lower Manhattan's historic neighborhoods – Little Italy – has transformed its lower-level 'grotto' into an intimate live music room on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 PM for the remainder of December. There is a $20 cover charge plus a two drink minimum (which can be applied to food).

Each performance night features two singers – a soprano and a tenor or baritone – who perform solo and together, supported by a talented keyboard player. Each musical evening includes programs of operatic arias, Neapolitan folk songs and American Songbook tunes. All of the performers in this series have performed in front of live audiences in the tri-state New York area, either at popular uptown cabaret venues like Feinstein's and the Metropolitan Room, or in operatic venues and concert halls in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut.

This week, tenor Caranza and soprano Cheryl Warfield will share the stage on Wednesday, December 28, and tenor Jimmy Alleva and soprano Christiana will perform on Thursday, December 29. David Schaeffer will be the accompanist all other nights. Performers during the first two weeks included sopranos Shana Farr, Emily Ross-Johnson, Michelle Trovato and Cristina-Marie Necula, and tenors Randy Pradara, Joshua Benevento, David Katz and John Carelli.

Reservations are suggested by calling Grotta Azzurra Ristorante at 212-925-8775.

Producers Mort Berkowitz and Les Schecter, who have presented concert performers at various Little Italy venues over the past decade, believe the intimacy and 'grotto' atmosphere make this a perfect place to present multi-talented singers who can perform a repertoire of songs ranging from Broadway show tunes to classic opera to Italian folk music. "We want the music to reflect New York (Broadway) and the historic Italian neighborhood," they said. "For decades people have been coming to Little Italy for the food and the atmosphere and Grotta Azzurra has as much atmosphere as anywhere else in the neighborhood." The presenters noted that the initial lineup of performers includes singers who have performed before at Little Italy's Feast of San Gennaro Opera Nights as well as at Little Italy's popular summer festivals which are held weekends on the Mulberry Street Mall from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

This Week's Performers Wednesday, December 28

Soprano Cheryl Warfield has performed over 15 lead roles in the standard operatic repertoire. This season, Cheryl sings the Countess with Amore Opera and Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore with the Manhattan Opera Repertory Ensemble. Career highlights include debuts on Broadway and at the Chicago Lyric, and a guest soloist appearance for the 2010 NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies in Canton, Ohio. Cheryl is also a recognized opera and concert producer and teaching artist.

Caranza is an American tenor and "Meistersinger" – a performer who must sing at least four genre of music equally well in at least three languages. Caranza sings 10 genres in five languages and, indeed, his repertoire goes from the rock 'n roll songs of Elvis and others, all the way through to pop, Broadway, Neapolitan and German songs, and Italian and German opera. The Connecticut native, born Patric Hale, continued living on the continent for 27 years, performing throughout Europe and other parts of the world at concerts, music festivals, corporate parties and other musical events. Returning to the States, he reunited with the man who took him to his first opera in Berlin, Richard Hogrefe of Boston, a Wagnerian tenor, with whom he continued his studies. It was Hogrefe who described his voice as a wonderful cross between the operatic voice of Caruso and the popular voice of Mario Lanza, and that's how "Caranza" was born. In July 2006 he was a winner at the NY Mario Lanza Competition and has been the featured singer at the Mario Lanza Society of New York's annual event ever since.

Thursday, December 29

Christiana has a sound that is uniquely her own, with vocal styles ranging from Rock to Broadway, the Granddaughter of world renowned opera singer Angela Figliolia, Christiana has had the love of music instilled in her from a very young age. Currently perusing a recording career, she has recorded with many accomplished producers in various studios, including the famed Avatar Studios. Performances ranging from the American Heart Association's Heart Walk to New York's famed Duplex, Christiana was most recently a winner of the Alexander Wang Fashion Night Talent Show, with Glee's Ryan Murphy and Vogue's Anna Wintour on the judge's panel. Christiana is currently working on writing and recording her debut EP, some of which can be found on her web site at

Jimmy Alleva is a gifted tenor with a style similar to the distinguished voices of Andrea Bocelli, Jimmy Roselli and Mario Lanza. His singing career took a giant step forward in 2008 with the release of Love & Romance, his debut album. Jimmy released his second album entitled Songs From The Old Neighborhood, in the fall of 2011. A native of Queens, Jimmy was raised in a musical household where he and his brothers were taught Neapolitan songs by his grandfather, who owned a butcher shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and paid Jimmy and his brothers $5 for every Neapolitan song they learned. Jimmy is currently the featured singer for the Saint Anthony's Feast and the Sons Of San Paolino Feast. He is a regular guest on Springfield (MA) radio station WTCC 90.7FM's popular show "LA Dolce Vita" which broadcasts throughout the New England area every Sunday morning. He is also featured on the Uncle Floyd Show on WRTN 93.5FM which broadcasts out of New Rochelle NY and John Labarca's Italian House Party 1400 WSTC AM / 1350 AM WNLK in Norwalk, CT.