Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Verdi-Film Preview and Talk with Verdi Scholar, Author and Look-alike August Ventura Legendery Composer’s Operas and Politics Given Close Look at Close Encounters “Conversations with…”

Photograph of August Ventura

Close Encounters With Music presents “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Verdi” the second installment in this season’s “Conversations With…” series Sunday, April 6, 3 PM at the historic Lenox Club. Lifelong opera-lover, author, architect and film-maker August Venutra has written extensively on Giuesppe Verdi for II Giornalino di Parma Lirica and Opera News, focusing on the relationship Verdi’s home town of Parma maintains with the maestro’s legacy.

For the past several years Ventura has been producing and directing an independent, feature-length documentary on this subject entitled “27,” in which Parma’s legendary Teatro Regio and the “Club of 27” (representing Verdi’s twenty-seven operas and limited exclusively to twenty-seven members at any given time!) figure prominently. Marking the Verdi bicentennial, the talk and film sequences capture his political and cultural relevance, shedding light on how the operas promoted the notion of a unified Italy and helped define her national character.

Parenthetically, Ventura could star in his own film as Verdi, as he is his virtual look-alike, which perhaps ignited his passionate pursuit of all things Verdi! The Gilded Age-era Lenox Club is located at 111 Yokun Avenue in Lenox, MA.

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Verdi” is part of a series of intimate and stimulating conversations about music and ideas, an intrinsic part of the Close Encounters With Music season. “Conversations With…” has presented such notable speakers as writer, editor and Bob Dylan biographer Seth Rogovoy; composer, National Endowment grantee and Guggenheim fellow Judith Zaimont; pianist-authors Walter Ponce and Adam Neiman; Emmy Award-winning animator, illustrator, cartoonist and children’s book author R.O. Blechman; art restorer David Bull; Academy Award nominee Daniel Anker; scholar, performer and multimedia artist Robert Winter; former Yankee, author and sportscaster Jim Bouton; and award-winning poet Charles Coe.

Ticket Information for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Verdi”
Admission is $15 and includes light refreshment. To purchase tickets, visit For further information: 800-843-0778 or [email protected]. Performances are supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Close Encounters With Music (CEWM) stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Kenji Bunch, and John Musto, among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.

Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” are broadcast on WAMC Northeast Radio and at

For more information about Close Encounters with Music and its 2013–2014 concert schedule, visit