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Singers join YSO for Italian Valentine

The Youngstown Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Valentine’s Day with an Italian flair Saturday.

“Now, That’s Italian” will feature vocalists Alyson Cambridge and James Valenti performing arias from Italian operas and love songs backed by the orchestra, led by Randall Craig Fleischer.

“The idea started with celebrating Valentine’s Day and a nod to the Italian community in Youngstown and the presence of Italian culture in Youngstown and the surrounding areas,” Fleischer said. “Then we started, I don’t want to say haggling, but negotiating the program. I always want the artist to be comfortable, singing material they love to sing.”

Fleischer knows both singers well. Cambridge appeared in the Broadway production of “Rocktopia,” the classical / rock fusion co-created by Fleischer and Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Rob Evan. She and Valenti both performed in the touring cast of “Rocktopia.”

“They are two amazing singers with two phenomenal instruments, and they’re gorgeous and dashing on stage,” Fleischer said. “They have a flair for drama. They’re legit actors. They pretty much have the best credits you can get if you’re a singer — singing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York.”

In addition to the Met, Cambridge has sung with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Vienna Konzerthaus and performed in Paris, Warsaw, Beijing and other music capitals throughout Europe and Asia.

She is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music and continued her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Valenti trained at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and Westminster Choir College in New Jersey. He made his professional debut with Teatro dell’Opera de Roma in “La Boheme” and has sung featured roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “Carmen,” “Rigoletto,” “Madama Butterfly,” “Faust” and “The Dream of Valentino.”

In addition to operatic works, the concert will include songs popularized by the Rat Pack, the music of Henry Mancini and songs from Broadway and the movies.

“I expect them (the audience) to swoon, I expect them to get that tingle up their spine, to feel romantic,” Fleischer said. “They’re going to hear something beautiful and invigorating and dynamic, and I expect them to be absolutely swept away for two hours. It’s great music, largely romantic music and a phenomenal date night.”

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