, Salem, MA


March 21, 2013

'Bon Appetit'

Opera celebrates Julia Child's culinary expertise and spirit

UPDATE: Since this article's publication, a change has been made to the program. Chef Bill Collins will replace Christopher DeStefano of Christopher’s Table. Formerly of Beverly, Collins will present “All About Chocolate” Sweet Secrets and Samplings for the audience to enjoy.

DANVERS — Maybe walking and chewing gum at the same time is not so hard to do. But try singing an opera while you’re baking a flourless chocolate cake.

That is the challenge faced by D’Anna Fortunato, a mezzo-soprano and professor of voice at New England Conservatory of Music, when she performs in “Bon Appetit” this Saturday at the Danvers home of John Archer.

“It’s unusual in that one is cooking, and that one is the only person on stage performing,” said Fortunato, whose career includes appearances with the top 10 American symphony orchestras. “It also includes some speaking, and some what they call ‘sprechstimme’ — speaking on pitch — which gives a little more lilting, musical flavor to the speaking.”

The opera’s only character is America’s famous chef, Julia Child, and its libretto is based on an episode of “The French Chef,” the television show in which Child taught Americans how to make continental cuisine.

Saturday’s performance is a fundraiser for Music at Eden’s Edge, the North Shore chamber ensemble, whose pianist, Naoko Sugiyama, will play the accompaniment.

Along with the music, chef Bill Collins, formerly of Beverly, will present “All About Chocolate” Sweet Secrets and Samplings for the audience to enjoy. Collins, who has appeared on many television shows, formerly cooked at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston and then went on to work at Harbor Sweets in Salem, where he was in charge of new product development. As a personal chef, his clients have included many professionals including New York Times bestselling author Michael Palmer.

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