Phantom of the Opera, Unmasked

The Broadway Legend Arrives at CSI

By Matthew McKenna

CSI has offered many events during Italian Heritage month to commemorate Italian culture, tradition, people, and neighborhoods.

On October 18, CSI’s Center for The Arts hosted an event with famous Italian-American actor Francesco D’Ambrosio, who played both on the big screen and on Broadway’s stage. At the event, D’Ambrosio sang many different songs from popular plays and movies.

D’Ambrosio’s most notable role has been his decade long portrayal of The Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera. Due to this, he was named “World’s Longest-Running Phantom.”

The audience entered into the theatre for the 7 PM performance with excitement on their faces. Most of the audience consisted of elderly people, families, couples, and teenagers.

Before the show began, the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nan Sussman, was introduced along with Co-Coordinator of the Italian Studies program, Gerry Milligan, and Margaret Ricciardi.

Ricciardi is CSI’s oldest active alumna, continuing student, and founder of the Frank and Margaret Ricciardi Scholarship that funds the study abroad opportunities in Italy. She is 101 years old or as the Italians would say, centouno anni.

Then the audience was introduced to D’Ambrosio and Musical Director Scott Besser, who has played piano for D’ambrosio for many years. D’Ambrosio told the audience about him being from The Bronx, growing up over a bakery, having a role in The Godfather III, and performing in parts of Europe.

Along with his singing, D’Ambrosio told really good jokes showing that he had a sense of humor that was witty and clever. One memorable moment was when the note stand fell while D’Ambrosio was performing and he paused to say he will wait until it gets fixed.

Some songs that D’Ambrosio sang were “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables, “Yankee Doodle Boy” from Little Johnny Jones, and “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera. Along with his singing, he told stories about how certain auditions led him to more performances.

Besser performed two single numbers on the piano that were very elegant to hear as well. Overall, D’Ambrosio’s and Besser’s performance was powerful but soothing.

Every song was enjoyable and D’Ambrosio hit all the high and long notes with precision and grace that made the audience applaud with joy and amazement.

He sang songs by singing one right into the other without taking any breath to relax. D’Ambrosio also sang two songs that were not shown on the pamphlet, one of them being “Danny Boy” because he had wished to pay tribute to an Irish friend.


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