Music, particularly dance music, is an important ingredient in many Italian social gatherings, the most popular of which is the dinner dance (and of course, weddings). Several area bands perform standard Italian and international music, some may even sing a few regional Italian favorite "folksongs," but few specialize in orally-transmitted, "traditional" or "folk music" (See below: Traditional Music, Music‡ntica and I Giullari di Piazza). When a formal band is not called for (e.g., picnics or club and family events) informal arrangements may be made by playing regional sound records. Social singing rarely takes place. Many Italian Americans know part of their regional musical heritage through commercial records alone, but little survives of orally-transmitted family repertoires. Social singing rarely takes place. According to one music professional, "spontaneous singing" in private settings seems to occur most conspicuously among Sicilians (and perhaps Veneti).
Informal choral groups have arisen in the past. One such group existed over a decade ago within Arba Sicula, a Sicilian cultural association, and included Tino Trischitta, Chuck Sperrazzo, Lou Cutell, Sebastiano Lo Monaco, Joseph Daniels, Elio Guercio. The Garibaldina (See: CLUBS, ASSOCIATIONS & SOCIETIES) had a musical group comprised of August Levante (accordionist, who apparently knew a large repertoire of tunes by heart), Anthony Lavella (mandolin, guitar, and traditional Abruzzese songs), Johnny Teddy, with the accompaniment of several female members such as Lucy Deghi. Such standard folksongs as Piemontesina Bella, and Mazzolin di Fiori could be heard at their events. Other clubs, such as La Fameja Veneta expressly took the preservation and singing of regional folksongs as part of their original mission.
Selling musical Italian Americana
Italian Popular Music. Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, and other Italian American crooners have formed the common musical language of Italian Americans, and such songs are still featured at many Italian American festivals (See: CELEBRATIONS Folk Festivals, San Gennaro). Contemporary pop music instead, is recognized by younger Italians who have traveled to Italy and may be in touch with more recent musical trends. Of course, recording artists such as Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Boccelli, who who have sung Opera, traditional, and pop music, are universally known across the American listening public. Italian recording artists used to come regularly to Los Angeles and the Southland for concerts and other special events (e.g., Italian heritage festivals). Performers of Italian music also come from various North American cities such as New York and Toronto, Canada, that is, cities with large Italian populations. Contemporary Italian music events may be arranged by private impresario (in the past by Tony De Bruno in Los Angeles, and by Manghisi/Pirozzi in San Pedro), by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, or the Consulate General of Italy. Concert organizers mention that Italian popular music concerts were popular in Los Angeles among Eastern Europeans (Romanians, Bulgarians, Russians), as well as Armenians.But the music scene is constantly in flux, as tastes change, as Italian musicians come to mainstream venues (e.g., Enzo Avitabile at the Getty Museum in 2008)
Opera, a grand Italian tradition, goes beyond the Italian community of course and is part of high-brow culture the world overóeven though in Italy líOpera lirica is considered something of a "popular" musical art form and enjoyed widely across class lines. We indicate below a few local Opera resources.