Friday, March 30, 2007

If It Looks Like We Have Fun - We Do!

Ciao a tutti,

This post is a fine example of the fun I am having with the Filippo and the Chef radio show, the blog, the interviews, the parties, performances, and with all my friends, new and long time friends, that get into the action.

I was invited to see a show by my friend Piotr Jandula, violist to the Los Angeles Opera, the LA Symphony, and studio musician for all the biggest Hollywood movies, not to mention all kinds of other engagements. Whenever he is performing in something or catches wind of something that might be of interest to me musically or for the show, he lets me know.

It is always a pleasure to hear him perform anyway, especially when he solos. The richness of the viola really comes out when he plays it. As a matter of fact, he plays on songs in both my CDs. Now you know.

In this case he was performing in the orchestra accompanying an artist Carlos De Antonis. I invited my friend, and now Producer of the Filippo and the Chef radio show, Laura De Leon, to come along for a relaxing evening of what Piotr told me would be an evening of good music and voice.

Laura and I had wonderful seats and after a busy week were ready to enjoy some music and leave the show to someone else. As the big 2000 plus seat UCLA Royce Hall Theater started to fill up, I thought to myself, who is this Carlos De Antonis, and how come I have never heard of him, but all these people have? I turned to the program for some answers where I soon discovered from his bio that he was half Italian.


Why didn't anybody tell me? I shouldn't just be sitting here enjoying this, I should be taking notes, I should be talking to people, I should be going to meet with him afterwards backstage and interviewing him and taking pictures with him. That's what I should be doing!

Immediately Laura and I stepped into action, like we put on our Superman and Wonder Woman costumes or something and the caper began. Only, we had left all of our handy gadgets necessary for such a call to duty in the "bat cave." I had no camera on me, no business cards, nothing. That's the last time that happens.

Still we were quick on the trail to meet the people in the know before the show started and make sure we had all our ducks in order to get backstage after the show and to be invited to the meet and greet reception afterwards, etc.

Just as we squared everything away, the show started. Whew! We sat there in pleasant surprise as this beautiful voice rang out from the stage through the theater and as this playful, costumed man flirted and played with the audience in his heavy accent. We had never seen anything like him before.

And just when we were getting used to the voice, the costume, the whole act, etc., he left the stage. We weren't sure what was going on, but the orchestra obviously did and they kept playing a pretty piece. When the piece was over we applauded and they started another one. Only this time, Carlos came out, this time in a very different costume, long and flowing that fanned out when he danced and spun on stage to an Argentine tango he sang in Spanish.

The audience roared and he had them all eating out of the palm of his hand. As a singer/entertainer myself, it was such a joy to watch it unfold. "More power to him," I thought. By now I really couldn't wait to interview him.
The best part for me though had not even happened yet. That was when he started singing Italian art songs. They touched me and I was sold. At that point he could have come out on stage wearing a tutu, and it wouldn't have mattered, he had me. In fact, he did leave the stage for two or three more costume changes, all more elegant and impressive than the one before.

We had actually met the costumer Gamila, before the show in our rush to make sure we were in touch with all the right people that could make this blog post and a future interview possible, by getting us backstage afterwards. Her work on his costumes was amazing, of course, come to find out she is a Hollywood film costumer and half Italian. As a matter of fact, I met her Italian mother after the show who is also a chef and used to cook for many famous celebrities, like Mick Jagger I think she said.

The show ended with a standing ovation that brought Carlos back twice to sing, and the third time to tell us that he was performing in Arizona that next day at a benefit with Ricky Martin and Diana Ross, among other people. The crowd applauded at that and got the point.

Now to the party. Laura finally secured our entry to the party because all the people that said they would get us in disappeared, and rightfully so since they were busy with the party. But once in, we got everything we were hoping to get, and more.

Carlos' friends and management team pulled cameras and people and Carlos together to get us the pictures we needed as well as treated us to some wonderful food and drinks.

When we were introduced to Carlos he hugged us like he had known us for years and was happy to see us again. Though I know he meant the warmth and attention just for us, I saw that he was just as warm and attentive to all his guests.

A great host indeed. I must say everyone rallied around him was doing him a great service, and justifiably so. I think they all think he is going to be having a big career, and I think they are right.

With their help, it seems eminent. It was even more eminent when I got to his manager's beautiful house in the Hollywood Hills in front of the Hollywood sign, where I found Carlos being filmed during a rehearsal. Our interview ended up being filmed as well for a documentary on his "rise to fame" I guess it would be. Well, I was there to see it, and thanks to this post and our interview, those of you who didn't know him before, know him now.

In closing this post, here are pictures of Carlos and I at the home of his manager Harlan Werner. We took the second one so you can see the Hollywood sign behind us, way up the mountain. Above these pictures is a picture of the costume designer Gamila, on the right, and a friend of Carlos who is also a fellow opera singer, mezzosoprano Inez Olabarria Smith, on the left.

Directly above that is the picture of Carlos and Laura De Leon.

Tune in to the show to hear Carlos tell us about his journey to Buenas Aires to study singing and his first big break. You will also hear about his new CD due to be released this Summer called "Carlos De Antonis - del cuore," meaning, from the heart. I chose to play a piece on the show however of a live recording of him singing "Core Ingrato," even though it was not on the CD, they let me have it to play because it was a song that my Father used to sing.



P.S. This video clip is blatantly a commercial, but it does show the bar at Carlos De Antonis' after party. It was the coolest thing, and cool is definitely the right word. The after party was partly hosted by Belvedere Vodka. They erected this beautifully crafted and functioning bar from where they served martinis that was completely made of ice. You can see it here at the very event where we went. (Background song in English)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Intervista con un Musicista - An Interview with a Musician

Ciao a tutti,

I am sure those of you who have been following my blog have come to realize that I am starting to post about interviews that I am conducting for our Filippo and the Chef radio show. There are two reasons in particular. The first is that at the moment we don't have a convenient place on the website to post some of the fun pictures we take during the interviews.

The other reason is because we also don't have a forum on the website that we can talk about some of the fun things that happen on the way to the interview, during the interview, after the interview, etc. Sometimes we mention things on the air during the show, but there is so much going on during the show, from cooking, to "word of the day," and e-mails, and wine drinking, that we can't get around to everything.

So for as long as it serves us, and for as long as you are enjoying it, I will continue to post interview posts, like this one with Italian musician and producer Simone Sello.

It is so funny how life works, when I so wanted an Italian music producer for the two Italian CDs I recorded, I had no idea where to find one, and never did, for either of my CDs, my first or my second. Now that I am thinking about recording an American CD, I not only find Italian producers, but I am friends with them and am interviewing them, no less.

As a matter of fact, when I told Simone that I was in the studio with a producer working on an American song, he wanted to hear it. Of course he does, he has watched and been a part of some of the greatest Italian artists' growth and successes, like Andrea Bocelli, for example.

I met Simone through my friend, composer, singer, songwriter Marco Missinato. He and Simone have been working together for years on Marco's band "Naked Soul," and currently on his Pets Love Music CD series. When I asked him to take a picture of Simone and I they both realized they never had a picture taken of them together, so here they are too, taken in Marco's little home studio. Below is Simone in his bigger home studio.

Simone used to be one of the few and proud musicians that make up the San Remo Festival Orchestra. Winning the San Remo Festival in San Remo, Italy, would be the equivalent of winning a Grammy in the States, only in Italy, they conduct the event like a internationally televised song contest over the course of several days.

After having worked with so many of Italy's greats as well as the greats of the music world all over the world, Simone has some great stories and I thought you would all enjoy hearing them and is the reason why I interviewed him for our show.

Here is a more complete outline of Simone's career, who by the way, arrived at the interview in his sexy little fiat convertible as if he was in Rome, where he is originally from.

He started studying the guitar and the violin when he was about 10, and began his professional career right afterwards. He got to play with many international artists from his country, live and in the studio, and he became the guitar player in the orchestra of the world famous Sanremo Festival for 4 years, having the honor to play with such guests as George Benson, Pat Metheny, Toots Thielemans, Ray Charles, Kenny G, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini , Toto Cutugno, Nek and many others.

Also, he co-arranged and produced the song "Non Ci Sto", which brought the singer Syria to win the contest associated with the Sanremo Festival in 1996.

He currently lives in Los Angeles, where he works as a session guitar player, music producer and expert in computer music, songrwriter, and writes articles for music magazines. Here he has been doing much work, both live and in the studio, with such musicians as Billy Sheehan (bass player with David Lee Roth, Niacin, Mr. Big and solo artist), Aaron Carter and his brother Nick Carter, from Backstreet Boys (both multiplatinum singers), Kevon Edmonds (After7, Baby Face) and Julia Fordham.

He is a member of the electronica-art-rock band project One.O, together with Warren Cuccurullo (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, Duran Duran)

He is also a recording artist himself, having released his solo CD "Sample This" with Compression Records, as Simonex.

He also works in composing, playing and producing music for TV, movies and sound libraries. He was among the winners of the John Lennon songwriting contest in 2001.

They don't get much better than this. I can say that too because I have had the pleasure to have Simone play guitar for my shows in the past and just listened to him turn a good song into something great. And as a singer, when you are working with someone like him, you inspire each other and the audience feels it too.

Much like the interview actually, I hope you feel it too and you enjoy the clip of one of his compositions we play afterwards.

A presto,


P.S. Speaking of Andrea Bocelli, I just realized I have never posted a video of Andrea on my blog, though I have mentioned him. Someone who I have never even mentioned is Zucchero, one of Italy's greatest living pop song writers and singers. What better time to post a video of them than now since Simone has worked with both of them.

So here they are together Andrea and Zucchero on a video I found on singing Zucchero's song "Miserere," live in Italy. If you don't know this song, here's your opportunity to hear it, and if you know it, your opportunity to enjoy it again. (In Italian)

Friday, March 23, 2007

What Does One Say to the Biggest Star in the World? - Tom Cruise

Ciao a tutti,

I should probably ask, "What does one say to the biggest stars in the world," because Tom Cruise isn't the only protagonist in this post. But needless to say, he is the biggest the world has ever known.

When I was invited to this event and knew I would meet The Tom Cruise, I actually did wonder to myself, "What DOES one say when he meets the biggest star in the world?"

Before I tell you what I said to Tom, this is how it all started. I had the pleasure of going to this event with my friend Isabella Carlini who knows so many people in the Entertainment Industry, she was the perfect guide, well almost, and I'll explain that.

We actually were under the impression that Tom Cruise would be the only celebrity we would meet because the event was going to be made up mainly of Entertainment Executives, Lawyers, Producers and the like.

But to our surprise, the evening started with a warm and friendly smile and hello from Samantha Harris co-host of TV's "Dancing With the Stars," since we ended up walking down the red carpet just behind her.

As you have all seen on TV, you walk, and then you stop for pictures, and then you even walk back for a few more, and then you walk some more. I'm learning, he, he. Anyway, I asked Isabella if she knew who she was in front of us, because she looked familiar.

Isabella told me who she was, and she might have heard us and turned around and said, "Hello, I'm Samantha Harris, who are you?" I told her I was Filippo Voltaggio and Isabella kindly went on to say that I was on radio and soon to be on TV too with my show Filippo and the Chef.

See what I mean, Isabella was great, and knew everybody. We then took pictures together as well as had pictures taken of us and went on our merry way. Well, then something funny happened that was to be one of the jokes that lasted the whole night.

One of us spotted Charo at the bar as we were ordering drinks, and I won't say which one of us because I am too much of a gentleman. And I mean Charo as in "Cucci, Cucci," Charo. One of us insisted we just had to meet her and that it was certainly her.

Luckily, "Charo," was with a companion, and I being a gentleman, asked her companion if my companion could meet "Charo," of whom he was being very protective. He looked at me as if I had two heads, or better yet, no head at all because he obviously, obvious now to me, was NOT WITH CHARO! I excused myself and turned to Isabella and laughed so hard I couldn't help myself.

From that moment on, when one of us would be away from the other, when we came together again, we would tell each other that we had just seen Charo. Or we would just point to someone and say, "Is that Charo?" And the fun was just beginning.

We entered the main room, which by the way was a huge sound stage at Fox Studios, and the most beautifully decorated sound stage I have ever seen, with crystal chandeliers, an impressive stage, and everything. We looked for our table and kept walking further toward the stage past at least ten rows of tables deep to find ourselves second table from the stage. Wow!

After we greeted everyone at our table, one of the waiters came by and addressed me by name and asked me if wanted any wine. Isabella and I looked at each other inquisitively, and then ordered. Within minutes, another waiter came by and asked me by name if the lady and I wanted some appetizers.

When the third waiter did the same thing, and only to me, I knew something was up. So when we were approached again, this time by the first waiter bringing us the wine we had ordered, when he said my name I looked inquisitively at him.

He got my meaning and said, "I heard you introduce yourself... I hope you don't mind." Mind? He had gone on to tell all the other waiters my name. Mind? I gave him my card and said that I would be needing sharp people like him in my company soon and asked him to give me a call in a few months. Incidentally, true to character, at the end of the evening, he stuck around to greet us farewell.

The evening was just beginning and so were the surprises. The evenings entertainment got underway with a gospel choir. As they started to file in Isabella said to me, "Take a picture of them, they are really good."

I really like Gospel choirs but these were children and though I trusted they would be good, I had no idea I was to be bowled over by them. Then Isabella filled me in, since she is in the know, that this is the Crenshaw High School Gospel Choir and they are the best of the best. Boy was she right.

After them came a rapper who I really enjoyed. Again, I had no idea who he was, but Isabella said he was Kanye West, and he was good. Where have I been?

Thank you very much but I didn't need the next surprise guest to be introduced to me or anyone there. He is my cumpari, fellow Italian-American Jay Leno. I had never seen him do stand-up live. He was funny. I have to say when someone is good in whatever they do in front of an audience of their peers, then they are really good. And that is what Jay did by cracking us all up.

I just remembered, I still hadn't gotten to Tom. Here I am talking about the waiter and the entertainment, and I completely skipped over the part when I met TOM CRUISE. Okay, I met Tom and that was great.

Now, where was I?
No, just kidding. Okay, let me back track a bit, because otherwise, this post would be too short, he, he. Yesterday was my sister's birthday. I called her up to wish her a Buon Compleanno and in conversation ended up telling her that I was meeting Tom Cruise that evening.

She immediately said, without skipping a beat, "I love the way he runs. Have you ever noticed that? When he runs in his movies, he gives it his all, he really gets into it."

So, now that is in my head because I called her just before I arrived to pick up Isabella at Paramount. A couple hours later I am standing next to Tom as he is greeting an acquaintance of his, and then he turns around and gives me that famous and charming Tom Cruise smile, extends his hand and says, "Hi I'm Tom, what's your name?"

What did I say?

Well, I said, "Hi Tom, I'm Filippo Voltaggio." And then without skipping a beat, just like my sister had done to me, I said, "You know, tonight is my sisters birthday and I called her before coming her and told her I would be meeting you tonight and she said... so I figured you probably don't get that often, so I thought I had to tell you, she likes how you run."

He laughed, what I gathered was a knowing laugh and we chatted a bit more and then he graciously agreed to a photo together, which I understand he is not always comfortable doing, so THANK YOU TOM, for me and all my fans, and fans of yours of course.

Now, back to that knowing laugh, and that all knowing Isabella, who informed me afterwards that, everyone likes the way he runs, it is no secret, that is why the studios have him do it in the movies. Again I ask, WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

So much so, that I found a video on dedicated to him running which I posted as part of the P.S.

At least the question was finally answered. Now I know what I would say, and did say, to the biggest star in the world!

Okay, do you want more? I will be brief from now on, if that is even possible for me.

Later on in the evening I met Katie Holmes who was herself very gracious and so beautiful and sweet in person. See... picture.

After a while, Isabella bothered to tell me that we were seated next to the creator of "Alias," "Lost," "Felicity," and so many popular shows on TV, J.J. Abrams and his wife, I think it was. So we chatted a bit and then had to take this picture as well.

What else, what else? Did I mention the waiter? He, he, just kidding, oh, but I didn't mention the menu, here it is, and exactly what you are thinking..., it was!

Then came a man, who needs no introduction, in fact, a man who had no introduction that night. He actually came out in the dark and sat and noodled at the keyboard warming up as people were mingling and talking etc. All of a sudden the lights came up and everyone heard his voice and the crowd went nuts. Nuts!

It was none other than
Stevie Wonder. And what a "wonder!" He was so good and he just kept on going, singing so many of our favorite songs. At one point, he invited the audience to sing along. Well, Isabella and I both being singers were just belting out the song and having fun.

We got some looks from people and we smiled and they smiled back. We thought for a second, "Are we being too rowdy for this bunch?" The answer came, "No, not rowdy enough." By the next song we were up and dancing to Stevie Wonder just fifteen feet from us on the stage.

I would like to say that it was our infectious energy that got almost everyone around us up and dancing too, but I think Stevie had something to do with it. One such dancing couple was these two who we danced next to for a couple dances before we introduced each other.

As a matter of fact the gentleman did say, "I like you two, you are highly spirited," or something like that. I didn't catch who they were but I understood that they had something to do with putting on the event, so I told them that if we took a picture together I would put them on my blog and publicize the event for them.

Boy, wait till you read this. Later on that evening when we picked up my car at the valet we ran into these two again. I rolled down my window and shouted out something like we had been friends for years and they shouted something right back in the same spirit.

I don't even remember what we said, but it was funny and we drove off. For the last time that evening I turned to Isabella and said, "And who were those nice people?" Before she was able to respond I continued, "... You know, I really am going to put them on the blog and put a link to their charity to get them publicity."

Isabella responded, "What do you mean, who are those people, first of all I can't believe you don't know who they are, and secondly, they introduced themselves to you!" I told her that I couldn't hear what they had said because of the music.

She goes on to say to me, "You mean you don't know Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy?" "Yes," I said, "I know Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, why?"

"That is who they were!" she exclaimed as if to say "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?"

For those of you who have been wherever I've been all this time, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy are arguably Hollywood's most sought after, powerful and revered producing couple. They individually and collectively have produced such big movies as "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Jurassic Park," "The Bourne Identity," and "The Bourne..." everything else, "The Sixth Sense," "Gremlins," I mean, do I need to go on, because I can, you know!

These folks don't need my publicity, they MAKE stars, the media listens to what THEY say. And here I was earlier in the evening saying to FRANK MARSHALL and KATHLEEN KENNEDY of all people, "Oh, if we take a picture together I will publicize your event and put a link to the charity."

The best part is they said, "Of course," and "Thank you." I have a friend who knows them and said, that is how they are, the nicest people you ever want to meet. I have to say, that if the way they treated Isabella and I that night is any indication, that is probably true.

True to my word, here is my publicity I promised Frank for the cause he obviously believes in enough to be one of the chairs of this event. This whole evening was to raise money for Mentor LA. This is an organization I had never heard about until last night, and one I hope we all hear about more and more soon!

The evening was appropriately called LA's Promise Gala, because the money raised goes to a specific program that is making a difference in not just LA's promise, or America's promise, but the promise for our world, our children!

During the course of the evening a few of the presentations shared with us all what Mentor LA has achieved so far with the schools it has focused on. I know the foundation has its sights set on very big goals, I hope that events like last night's can raise not only enough money to help them achieve those goals, but raise enough to so that they have to set new ones and someday include every school in LA.

I couldn't give justice to what the organization does specifically, unfortunately, primarily because I am just learning about them myself. I do refer you to learn about them yourselves if you are interested and to do so by clicking on the Mentor LA link above and visiting their website.

Are we at the end of the evening yet, where were we? Did I mention the waiter? Did I mention Tom Cruise? Did I mention that we got a picture with Stevie Wonder? I think that is important.

Oh, I almost forgot Orlando Bloom. Here we are butting heads. How many people can say they butted heads with Orlando Bloom? Both of us were too macho to flinch but when our heads did come together for this picture we both felt the sting.

Oh, and of course, Jim Eppolito, well, he is no celebrity himself, but he provides the music for almost all the biggest celebrities. As I was sitting there listening to the band and enjoying the music, I recognized a few of the band members on stage because I had worked with them. It dawned on me that this must be a Jim Eppolito band. I grabbed Isabella and marched backstage and sure enough, there he was.

Jim is owner of West Coast Music and the one people call when big celebrity events, parties, and corporations need music. Sometimes, when they do that, Jim then calls me asa the singer, or at least he used to. I remember singing at Robert Zemekis' wedding, among others. You know, Robert Zemekis, producer of "Back to the Future," etc. Maybe Jim thinks I'm too big now, or I charged him too much the last time, he, he.

I had actually just seen Jim and his wife in the front row of the Three Paisans show just a couple weeks before. It was good to see him again.

Now let me see, Tom, Katie, Stevie, the waiter, Jay, Orlando,... I think I got everyone, we could go now and I could end this post.

But no. The line for valet was way too long. So what did we do? Did we stand there and wait? Of course not. We went to New York instead.

I decided the evening was too perfect to end it with waiting in line at the valet, so we walked to New York, or at least the outdoor set that looked like New York on Fox Studios Lot.

I don't know better, because who knows where I've been, to know if "Singing In The Rain," the movie, was filmed here or not, but it sure looked like it. So I struck this singing in the rain pose at the lamp post while actually singing out loud.

Isabella and I took many more pictures while singing up a storm up and down the streets of New York...

"...What a glorious feeling I'm happy again!..."


P.S. As I mentioned before, here is the video clip that I got from that features some running scenes that my sister, and evidently, millions of other people enjoy. (Song track in English)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bella Farfalla (Beautiful Butterfly) - Amana Melome

Ciao a tutti,

A while back I had a title to a post that read something like "Two for the Price of One." It seems to be a recurring theme in my life lately, not just two, sometimes three and four. I have often heard said that you take one step and God takes two for you, and so it is.

This time I am referring to my interview with Italian Music Producer Saverio Principini. It has been an interesting road to this interview with him, and when we finally got together, I got to not just interview him but the up and coming artist Amana Melome who I will tell you more about in just a minute.

On the road to interviewing Saverio... we were trying to figure out how exactly we actually came to meet about twelve years ago or so. I think a mutual acquaintance introduced us when the acquaintance, then Italian radio disc jockey Luciano Palermi, heard that I was to record my first CD. I think he might have referred me to Saverio to see if recording in his studio was the right thing for my project, which ended up being my debut CD "REEL ITALIAN - Love Songs From the Silver Screen."

At the time we met, my hair was not very long and his was all the way down his back. Which if you look at the pictures, now mine is a lot longer than his since he is sporting the cool shaved look. At the time he was working on more rock and heavy metal recordings and was also very involved in his rock band, and we didn't end up working together.

Funny too how I met him when I had just moved to Los Angeles and was living in a city called Burbank. To visit Saverio's studio I remember driving for almost a half hour and going to this whole other city north of my house. When I moved years later I moved to Sherman Oaks and have been living here for a few years and would run into Saverio at the post office and stores etc.

This Holiday, during one of these run ins, we were both standing in line and he looked at me and smiled like he knew me and I politely smiled back and turned back around. Thinking how this person acted like he knew me, but recognizing that it happens more often now with people knowing me from my singing and the Filippo and the Chef Show, etc.

But something told me I might know him too, and that it might be Saverio. So I turned around and said, "Saverio?" And he smiled and said, "Si Filippo, come, non mi riconosci? (Yes, Filippo, don't you recognize me?)" And the truth was, no, not with his shaved head. We then began to talk about our latest projects and I decided we just had to interview him for our show.

When we set up the interview he invited me to his home which was the same place he lived in all those years ago when I had to drive for miles to get to him. Well, when he gave me directions, wouldn't you know it? All these years I have been living two blocks away from him and his studio.

Who knew that all these years, all these famous Italian singers and musicians like Adriano Celentano, Vasco Rossi, Gino Vanelli, and for that matter famous American singers all probably drove passed my house to go to his house to record or hear tracks or something.

Life is funny. So here we are finally set to do this interview with him, and I was hoping with Amana Melome as well. But Amana was on her way to Italy to record with another Italian famous singer, Giovanotti. Saverio didn't think we would be able to get her with her schedule being the way it was before she left, but we were both hopeful.

Well, I took one step and God took two and delivered Amana right into the studio while we were recording Saverio's interview as she ended up needing to do one last thing before taking off for Italy.

And so you will hear on one of our shows the interview with Saverio and on the one after, the interview and the song called "Bella Farfalla" off her just released debut CD "Indigo Red," which is being sold, among so many places, in Whole Food Stores.

Actually, from my understanding, she is the only independent artist being sold there, pretty cool huh? I wouldn't expect anything less than success from all my guests and now my friends. Go to to hear the interviews and learn about Amana's rise from model to starlet, and Saverio's connection with "Who Wants to be the Next Pussycat Doll?"

A presto,


P.S. Among other fine qualities in Amana's voice, she occasionally sounds like one of the greats of the past like Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald. When you hear the interview with her, you will hear it in her voice and also learn of her connection to Italy and hear her speak Italian so beautifully. You can see a video of Amana on her website as linked above.

And speaking of greats, and Italian connections, here is a video of Ella Fitzgerald singing in Italy as recorded by RAI and posted on It makes me think that there is always an Italian connection with everyone. Enjoy. (Introduction in Italian, sung in English)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tony Renis, Cambridge Who's Who, Frommer's 2007 - What Could They Possibly Have In Common?

Ciao a tutti,

A few weeks ago I mentioned on one of the radio episodes of the Filippo and the Chef Show that I had started a blog called "Filippo's Italian-American Experience." Though I had actually started it long time ago, as you all know, I had neglected to mention it on our show. So as I mentioned it I thought about asking the fans and listeners to not only check us out but to feel free to send me pictures and stories that I could include in the blog.

What I thought I was asking was for were pictures of our fans across the Country or the world and their personal Italian-American ot Italian Experiences. What I think everyone understood was that I was looking for pictures and stories about me. I had to laugh as soon after the radio show aired and after we posted the show on our archives on the website, pictures and stories came on my E-mail and they were all about me.

Okay, it wasn't my intention, but I loved it, mainly for two reasons. First of all, I had never seen some of these pictures so I was happy to see them and have them. Second of all, it dawned on me that I barely had time to post and keep up to date on my blog with my own Italian-American experiences much less taking on other people's experiences. Maybe someday we can have someone working for us dedicated to something like that. It could be a fun thing.

In the meantime, I am happy to post some of the pictures and stories here now and maybe as we go along, on slow news days, he, he, I can post others. The pictures above were sent by an artist, actually a sculpture, who I met at an event, Claudio D'Agostino. The first picture is of the famous Italian songwriter Tony Renis and my friend Marco Missinato, who is well on his way to being famous in his own right at an event in Beverly Hills, CA, probably two years ago or so.

Those of you who are die-hard Italian music fans would know Tony Renis because he wrote songs that include the hits "Quando, Quando, Quando" and "Grande, Grande, Grande" which was translated in English to "Never, Never, Never" and sung by such stars as Celine Dion, Pavarotti and Sergio Franchi. Those of you who don't know those songs will definitely know "The Prayer," which was written by Tony and also sung by Celine Dion, Andrea Boccelli and Josh Groban, to name a few. Incidentally, Renis produced Andrea's last CD.

Funny story about Tony. I was singing at an event several years ago, when my first CD, "Reel Italian - Love Songs From The Silver Screen" had just come out and I was approached by a man who was a good friend of Tony's. The man obviously liked my style and told me that he wanted to give Tony my CD and ask him if he would be interested in working with me. I was honored that this gentleman would care so much and gave him my CD and my contact information. I got a call from this gentleman a few days later and he asked me, if I realized that I had some of Italy's greatest hits on my CD? I of course said yes and that it was my intention to do just that.

He went on to say, "Did you know you left out a really important one?" I wasn't sure what he was getting at. You know how Italian men talk sometimes, you have to get around the story before they get around to telling the story? At any rate, the story was that supposedly Tony never listened to my CD because the man said that Tony took one look at the song list on the back of the CD case and said, "He recorded every Italian hit except 'Quando, Quando, Quando'." At least that is the story I got. Of course, I didn't bother to mention this that night the picture was taken.

The truth is I don't know if I had ever sung that song before then. But I tell you what. I have definitely sung it since, just in case, he, he. Come to think of it, I didn't record it on my second CD either "Love In Italiano," oh well. But I wonder if Celine or Josh ever sang that song, and yet he's working with them, he, he. I am sure our paths will cross again, then I will fill you in. Hey, maybe I should interview him on my show. Maybe I can tell him the story then. What do you think?

The picture below that picture is Claudio, his mother and I at that same event. He also sent along this picture of the sculpture that he was just commissioned to make for Jack Valenti and that was dedicated this past month, I believe, at the AFI, or American Film Institute. Go Claudio, and thank you for the pictures.

Now here are some interesting pictures. I got an E-mail from my friend Rachel who must have heard the "shout out" for pictures and stories and she wrote, "I am sure you already know this but since I have never heard you talk about it or seen it on your blog, I just wanted to make sure."

She goes on to tell me that she is working with a tour group in Italy at the moment and was reading the Frommer's Italy book for 2007, arguably the most popular travel book series covering the whole world, and that I am listed as one of Italy's top singing stars.

I immediately wrote back to her telling her that I had no idea what she was talking about. Since she was in Italy, I had to wait until she not only woke up and got to a computer...augh! But she eventually got back to me and sent me all the info including the page number etc., and here it is. Look at that, pretty cool, huh?

Thank you Frommer and thank you Rachel for bringing it to my attention. Hey maybe this idea of people sending me stories and pictures about me isn't such a bad idea after all otherwise I wouldn't know about half of this stuff.

The exact quote in Frommer's is listed under "Current Music Stars" and I am the first one listed saying "Worthy of the "electric" in his name, Filippo Voltaggio is a high-voltage singer and songwriter who records songs Italians and would-be Italians love to listen to." It's page 70 she said, if you want to check it out, or just click on these pictures to make them larger.

Speaking of being listed, I heard from a fan Jennifer just today that I was either listed or being listed in something, I didn't get it exactly, but I was posting this today and I didn't want to wait. That something is really something, it's the "Cambridge Who's Who," only one of the most prestigious Who's Who around.

I haven't been able to verify this yet but I do know that inclusion in this Registry is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement. This is supposedly the Executive and Professionals Edition, "Honors Edition" or something like that. Whatever it is, I am honored indeed and I will be looking into it, thank you Jennifer and thank you Cambridge.

My friend Giovanna DiBona who I don't think I have posted anywhere on this blog yet sent me a picture of her and I at the Feast of San Gennaro here in Los Angeles at least two years ago or so. That is Giovanna in her Sicilian costume that she made and wore as part of her act with her band Roman Holiday.

This second picture is Norman Panto, or Nunzio as I used to call him. He and I worked together when I first started singing and I was singing for Italian weddings. Yes, you heard it here first, it's true.

There used to be a joke that musicians used to always say around him. It went something like "Play the accordion, go to jail." Well, Norm has not been to jail, at least not that I know of and certianly not because he has played the accordion.

He has however been on several major commercials and TV shows and the like. So, the joke maybe funny, but Norm pay it no mind and play on.

Finally, Mike Marino, a funny, funny guy, award winning comedian and one of the Three Paisans, sent me this clipping that was written and sent to him by a mutual fan of ours who was in the audience that night of our show at the Catalina Jazz Club.

Evidently, she, Annette Zappia, among other things, writes for this Italian Lodge's paper and wrote about our show. Grazie Annette, this was really fun to read.

I understand they want us to perform for some big event that they are having and I am sure that will be fun. Click on the picture below and it will enlarge the image so you can read it if you are interested.

Grazie a tutti and I hope to post other stories like these as they come in so we can have some fun with them.

A presto,


P.S. In my last post I posted a video of Laura Fabian, the French Canadian singer born of a Belgian father and an Italian mother. Well, in keeping with this Italian connection with an international flair, I thought it would be interesting to post this next video.

This is a video of one of Latin America's biggest singing stars, Luis Miguel. A very young Luis Miguel I should say singing at Italy's top music festival, San Remo in 1985. If that isn't an Italian connection, he is singing an Italian song, "Noi Ragazzi Di Oggi." Thanks to (In Italian)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Isabella Rossellini, Sophia Milos,... - A Bevy of Beauties

Ciao a tutti,

The Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles invited me to interview, for our Filippo and the Chef Show, the actress, model,..., classically beautiful Isabella Rossellini at an event they held in her honor and in the honor of her late father, famed director Roberto Rossellini.

I was honored myself to have been asked and excited to met Ms. Rossellini. I have seen her act on TV and in the movies and seen her image in so many ads. Of course I had long known of her father's movies and was looking forward to hearing her speak about him. I knew that it was going to be great to be there and going to be quite a pleasure getting to meet and speak with her. Little what I didn't know was that the evening held in store for me a bevy of surprises, actually, a bevy of beauties and beautiful surprises.

Upon entering, I was greeted by il Signor Diego Brasioli, Consul General of Italy, who immediately brought me over to meet some of his guests. The first person he introduced to me was Alessandro Martorana. During his introduction what caught my attention was his choice of words. He said that he wanted to introduce us because we were both artists. With me it was obvious, he introduced me as a singer, but with Alessandro, he introduced him as an atelier.

Atelier used to just mean, in French, the workshop or studio where an artist created his work of art. It now also stands for the artist himself, and more specifically the designer of clothing, or in this case, contemporary men's tailored clothes. How sophisticated.

Of course, if any of you know Mr. Brasioli, you know him to be quite distinguished himself, as was Alessandro, quite charming and humble, I might add. Here is a man who designs clothes for some of the wealthiest and most prominent men in the world, with studios, or should I say ateliers, around the world, from Turin to New York, Hong Kong to Japan, and making his clients look like the million bucks that they are worth. We are pictured here with actress Dina Morrone.

Speaking of looking like a million bucks, while we were chatting, up comes an beautiful young lady and takes Alessandro by the arm. Maybe she took his arm and not mine because I was holding a camera on one hand and a computer on the other for my interview with Isabella later, he, he. As she approached us, Alessandro said, "And this is...," expecting him to tell me who she was. Instead, he continued with, " of my designs." I couldn't help but laugh out loud, I found the situation so funny.

That ended up endearing me to our "guest" visitor since I was just laughing open heartily without holding back. But what really took the cake is after much jesting, laughing, and carrying on amongst us, I asked her, quite irreverently, since we had been acting familiarly to each other, who the heck she was, in Italian. By then a crowd had gathered around us and everyone started laughing, as did she, because it seems that I was the only one who didn't know.

In my defense, I know CSI Miami is one of the most popular shows in the world right now, especially in the States, but I hadn't gotten around to watching it yet. But let me tell you, I sure did after that night.

Of course we are talking about the very beautiful, and now I can say, personable Sophia Milos of CSI Miami. I think this is a great picture of her, but if you want to see some others, click on her name and go to her official website. Get to know her, I hope to. In fact, when she asked me who I was, and Diego told her, thank you Diego, she asked why I hadn't interviewed her yet. You bet your sweet bippy I am going to, next time I catch her in town. Above we are pictured together, Sophia, Alessandro and I.

By this time I was so engaged that I almost forgot the reason why I had gone to this event in the first place. I did get to finally meet Isabella Rossellini and was impressed with her control over everything that was going on that night. I guess you have to be when you do as much as she does. She's an actress, model, spokesperson, author, mother, and the list goes on.

I really liked how she spoke so wonderfully about her father Roberto Rossellini, the late, great Italian film director. And by the way, you all do know who her mother was, no? If not, she was none other than the late, famed actress Ingrid Bergman. Above we are pictured with Francesca Valente the Director of the Italian Cultural Institute.

But the evening that started out to be just about her, which was already a dream in itself, was just getting started. The crowd went nuts a few minutes afterwards when they noticed Milena Canonero walk in. Now her I knew because I had seen her getting her Oscar for Best Costume Design this year for the movie "Marie Antoinette," a week or so before.

Meeting her was great. She is such a real person. You all got that when you heard her say "Well, I'm very happy to be here but it's also very frightening to be here, so in one way I wanted to get this doll [pats the Oscar] and another I was frightened. But thank you so, thank you very, very much," during her acceptance speech.

Well, that's her. As a matter of fact, after chatting with her for awhile, and asking her if she would be on my show, to which she replied yes, I asked her for a picture. She gave me these really sweet eyes as if to say, "do we have to?" I was not quick enough to get her meaning. I could tell she had been through a lot of paparazzi after the Oscars, and she started to put down her purse and everything so we could take a picture.

I thought this was really gracious considering she didn't feel up to it. Then when I finally caught on that she really would rather not, I said to her, "no really, we don't have to," in Italian of course, and I meant it. She then gave me another face that told me, I'll do this for you, and I can't tell you what that meant.

After we took the picture she said to me, almost in a whisper, as if to say, "I know you'll understand this," she said, "odio le foto," which means, "I hate pictures." I thought about not posting the picture afterall out of respect for her, but then I thought, she allowed me to take it out of respect to me, so not using it would be wrong.

And the whole evening was like that, meeting nice people after nice people. Like a friend of mine, entertainment attorney Claire Ambrosio, took me up to this next gentleman, Emmy Award winning correspondent for CBS's "48 Hours," Bill Lagattuta, saying that I should meet him and that I should interview him for my show.

One look at me and Bill says, I know him, he's the Italian Singing Chef. Well, he was sort of right, the show is "Filippo AND the Chef," but people keep thinking I'm the chef. But I was flattered none the less that he knew me and that he remembered me after meeting each other a year or so ago at a NIAF Media dinner. This is Claire and he in this picture.

I do want to have him on my show and he hads agreed, I can't wait. This man has done so much reporting that he could keep you engaged for hours just recounting his stories. Better yet, he has acquired so much knowledge and experience that he really has a grasp on things as they are and his perspectives are amazing.

I got this from just sitting at a dinner table with him a few hours and just listening to his discourse. I am sure he will have lots to share when we finally get an interview with him for the show, stay tuned. Here he is pictured with his lovely wife.
I could go on and on and maybe I will, just a little more. This, for example, is what I mean by a bevy of beauties, and what could be wrong with that. Here is actress Dina Morrone, Sophia Milos, and Julie Quinn, the beautiful wife of Francesco Quinn, yes, the late, great Anthony Quinn's son.

I had to steal a picture with just her and I as well, can you blame me? Francesco was there too, but funny, I didn't think to have a picture taken with him. Next time I see him, I will. I actually don't know why we didn't do it this time.

While the party was still going on, a few friends and I stole away to the library of the Institute where no one was gathered and had a party of our own. It didn't dawn on me till afterwards that there were three women and I. The odds were good for some good stories to come out.

And they did, but darn my professionalism, I can't share any of them, he, he. I made sure I even got permission to print these photos. Why? Well, take Susan Del Prete for example, sitting on the couch with Claire and I. She sells big, luscious, expensive homes to the big, luscious, expensive stars. Don't you think she has stories? She actually didn't share anything out of school, but still.

Then there is Angela Zonni, you ladies might recognize her from the Home Shopping Network. Actually, she holds a higher position than TV celeb at the Italian Trade Commission, but most of you would know her because she promotes the 18K Italian Gold Jewelry. I know many of you were watching and buying away.

So, this first picture was a given to post, but the second one? I had to ask her permission and she said go ahead, no problem. She asked me if I remember what the reason was that she got on the floor to begin with. I told her I didn't remember and I wouldn't tell if I did. She asked me if she was drunk when it happened. I said, definitely not drunk, but we all were having a great time.

And that's Italian!

Oh wait Angela, I do remember now, that is the position from which you took the picture of us on the couch, and I snapped one of you when you gave me the camera back before you got up!


P.S. I think to complete the picture of beautiful Italian women tonight, I wanted to add one who has a voice to match. In fact, I think she has one of the most beautiful pop voices in the world right now. There are so many interesting stories about her but I am going to let her tell her story with her voice and the brief interview at the beginning of the video where she talks about Italy. If you don't know her, you should, her name is Laura Fabian and she is French Canadian born to a father who is Belgian and a mother who is Italian. Here is a video I found of her on singing "Caruso." (In English and Italian)