More About the Author
Dr. Emelise Aleandri is an actress, singer, author and producer. She was born at Riva del Garda, Italy, emigrated to the U.S. when she was four and was raised in the Bronx. While working toward her M.A. in Theatre from Hunter College and her Ph.D. in Theatre from the City University of New York, she began a lifelong research into Italian-American history and culture. In 1984, after several years of university teaching, she was appointed the Director of the Center for Italian-American Studies at Brooklyn College, where she directed bilingual theatre in Italian and English.
She is the Artistic Director of Frizzi & Lazzi The Olde Time Italian-American Music & Theatre Company, a not-for-profit group now in its 20th year of recreating 19th century immigrant entertainments. She scripted and produced the children's musical, The Legend of La Befana, which is performed annually in the tri-state area and once in San Francisco; Carnevale; and Caffe Concerto. Frizzi & Lazzi's most recent new production was Hush the Musical, with music by Charles Mandracchia, for which she adapted the libretto and lyrics from Etta Cascini's original Italian comedy SHHHH.
Arcadia publishes her three photographic histories, The Italian-American Immigrant Theatre of New York City, La Piccola Italia and Little Italy and The Edwin Mellen Press is publishing her multi-volume encyclopedic History of the Italian-American Immigrant Theatre of New York City. She gives interviews as an expert on Italian-American history in the production The Italian Passion for Life (PBS), Little Italy: Past, Present and Future (NBC) and The Italian-Americans (PBS). She also conducts walking tours of Little Italy and Italian Greenwich Village. Her numerous articles and interhas views have been published in many books, magazines and scholarly journals. She lectured on Italian culture for the New York Council for the Humanities, in the tri-state area, nationally, and in Naples and Genova.
Dr. Aleandri was the original creator and Producer of the first nationally syndicated cable TV program about Italian-Americans: Italics: the Italian-American Magazine, which aimed to improve the image of Italian-Americans in the media with positive features about the contemporary Italian-American experience. She has also produced three documentaries: Teatro: The Legacy of Italian-American Theatre, Festa: Italian Festival Traditions and Circo Rois - Che Bella Vita!
As an actress she has appeared in many major feature films, radio, television and theatrical productions and received many awards for her work in the theatre. Among her recent credits, she stars in the title roles of Sister Italy (Paisan Films), now in worldwide distribution, and Madame Soraya (Leone Productions), now in post production. She worked in Spike Lee's films Crooklyn and Summer of Sam. She sang in Hushhh the Musical and created the role of The Mother in the film Vito Bonafacci. She also performed in the Walnut Street Theatre production of Italian Funerals and Other Festive Occasions in Philadelphia, the Off-Broadway productions of Lou La Russo's Hobo Christmas, and Sweatshop, which was praised in the New York Times, and also as the famous Italian actress, Eleonora Duse in Penguins and Peacocks. She sang in Jane House Productions' Tonight We Improvise by Luigi Pirandello and the revival of the Neapolitan musical Via Toledo by Night.
She was an Elena Cornaro Award Honoree(OSIA), New York State Woman of Distinction, and an Honoree of Leone de San Marco, Commission for Social Justice (OSIA), Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge (OSIA), Italian-American Educators, Awards from the Italian government and Brooklyn Women in Business.