Bringing forgotten music back to life
"Ars Minerva's online series Cocktails & Chit-Chat is in keeping with Ricci's philosophy of making a virtue out of necessity. It's low-tech and home-produced, but all the more spontaneous and appealing as a result. Each 30-minute episode features informal talks, interviews, and performances centered on a theme. Topics have included backstage insights, underperformed composers such as Antonia Bembo, Joseph Bologne, and Francesca Caccini, and the role of Naples in 17th- and 18th-century operatic culture. The upcoming episode on 9 December will be a preview of Messalina, with highlights performed by some of its featured singers and instrumentalists. As an added bonus, Ricci provides a delicious (sometimes too delicious) cocktail recipe to accompany each episode; Messalina's Cocktail is utterly addictive, and worth the suggested donation all by itself. [...] Once again Ricci's group provides a model of creativity, innovation, resourcefulness and sheer enjoyment that arts organizations with budgets many times its size would do well to emulate."