Movie: Mona Lisa is Missing at Washington University November 3, 2017

Mona Lisa Is Missing – TRAILER from Joe Medeiros on Vimeo.

Did you know the Mona Lisa was stolen… and that she was missing for nearly 2-1/2 years? Find out how and why in “Mona Lisa Is Missing,” a fun, fascinating, and award-winning documentary about the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece. Now more than a century since this unthinkable theft, writer/director Joe Medeiros finds the real reason an Italian workman named Vincenzo Peruggia stole the masterpiece from the Louvre — a reason even Peruggia’s only daughter didn’t know.

Admission: $5 per person

Friday, November 3, 2017 – 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
Laboratory Sciences Room 300
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO
Contact: Kathy Lewis
314-935-7378 /
Live & A with Filmmakers


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Vince and Virginia DiRaimondo Given The Spirit of Columbus Award, Parade Oct. 1st On The Hill

Vince and Virginia DiRaimondo are certainly one of the many “pillars” of the Hill neighborhood. They are great examples of the family spirit that is so evident with living in the Hill community.

Vince 91, and Virginia (soon to be 90) have been married for over 66 years and have lived on the Hill their entire lives.  They raised three children, and are now the proud grandparents of eight, and great grandparents of eleven.  They were born, grew up, worked, and now enjoy their retired lives in the same ten square blocks of the Hill neighborhood.

Vince was born in 1926 to Vincent and Mary (LoRusso) DiRaimondo, who came to the Hill from Castertermini, Sicily.  They lived at 5121 Daggett during his childhood years and he attended Shaw School for grade school.  Vince never attended high school, like so many others in those times, but instead went to work at Ravarino & Freschi to help his parents provide for his sister, Vincenza (Vee) and himself.  While growing up, Vince played baseball and soccer in the streets of the Hill with many of the neighborhood kids who would become his many lifelong friends.

In 1944, Vince entered the US Army serving our country during World War II.  He spent eighteen months in the Philippines and returned to civilian life in 1946.  Vince returned to the Hill and began work at the Magic Chef Company.  He also joined the Ravens, one of the many sports social clubs that were part of the Hill neighborhood at that time.  Fellow members of the Ravens became, and are still many of his lifelong friends, even today.

Virginia was born in 1927 to Angelo and Jenny (Pezzene) Valli.  Angelo was part of the Valli Clan that was originally from a small village outside of Milan, Italy.  Virginia was born and grew up at 5343 Shaw and was the only child of the family.  She attended Shaw School for grade school and then moved onto Southwest High School where she graduated in January 1946.  Upon graduation, Virginia started her work career at Ralston Purina.

Vince and Virginia were acquaintances during their childhood days as they both attended Shaw School.  One cold night in November 1946, Vince and Virginia were at the Excel Ice Cream Shop, located on Marconi Avenue, when Vince asked if he could walk Virginia home.  That evening was the beginning of a beautiful life together.

On November 24, 1949 (Virginia’s birthday), Vince asked Virginia to marry him.  Unfortunately, only one week after his proposal, Vince was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which he contracted while serving in the Philippines.  Vince and Virginia were forced to postpone their wedding plans as Vince was admitted to Mount Saint Rose Hospital where he spent seven months until his release in July 1950.  They were finally married on September 8, 1951.

Their first son, Paul, was born in 1954, at which time Virginia quit her job at Ralston Purina.  In the same year, the Magic Chef Company discontinued operations and Vince went to work for the City of St. Louis Water Department.  There he spent the next 34 ½ years as a dispatcher until his retirement in 1988.  Vince also had a second job delivering medicine for Cunetto’s Pharmacy for over 15 years until they closed in 1970.

Their family continued to grow with the addition of son Michael, born in 1957 and daughter Mary in 1960.  In 1961, they outgrew their flat on 2118 Edwards and moved to 2230 Stephen where they still live today.  In 1964, their household increased even more as Virginia’s sick parents moved in so Virginia could care for them until the passing of her father in 1966 and her mother in 1970.  Virginia then returned to the workforce joining Crescent Parts and Equipment where she worked until her retirement in 1992.

Nowadays, you can find Vince and Virginia living their busy daily lives in the Hill neighborhood as they always have.  You will probably find them attending daily Mass at St. Ambrose, hanging out and having coffee with their friends at Hardee’s, participating in St. Ambrose Senior Citizens activities, attending Holy Name and Mount Carmel meetings, playing bocce at the Bocce Club or Milo’s, playing cards on Tuesdays with the Hill Ladies, having breakfast at Chris’ Pancake House on Sunday morning, or attending 5PM Mass on Saturday (they arrive at 4:20PM so they can sit in “their” pew in the back of church), or visiting the casino with their longtime Raven friends, Joe and Rose Mazzuca.

Vince and Virginia are true examples of the Italian family heritage so prevalent on the Hill.


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Dr. Mark Lombardi the Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day Parade Oct. 1st on the Hill

Dr. Mark Lombardi is the tenth President of Maryville University and has served since 2007. During his tenure, Maryville University has grown enrollment to over 7,800 students hailing from 50 states and 55 countries. US News & World Report has named Maryville the 3rd fastest growing University in the nation and in 2013 and 2014 named Maryville the #1 Overperforming University in the country. In addition, Maryville has also been ranked in the top 15% of Universities nationwide for ROI for three consecutive years.
In addition to fundraising initiatives that have netted over $150 million dollars for projects in the arts, academic learning space, international programs, learning technology and student services, Dr. Lombardi has done over 200 interviews for radio and television
on politics, international issues as well as innovation and the future of higher education. Dr. Lombardi is a noted author, publishing several articles and three books, one of which is now in its 9th edition. Dr. Lombardi earned a PhD and master’s degree in political science and international relations from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Purdue University.

Born in Cranston, Rhode Island, Dr. Lombardi’s grandparents came from Italy as children. Members from both sides of his Italian family live in and around Naples.


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Welcome Benedetta Orsi, Mezzosoprano, to St Louis

By Michael J Cross, VP of Ciao St Louis

Benvenuta Benedetta Orsi, Mezzosoprano, to St Louis

St Louis is well known for its musical traditions. One that is increasingly becoming popular is the Winter Opera of St Louis, now on its 11th season. This year features a world class repertoir such as Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles. The Winter Opera will have the additional presence of Benedetta Orsi, a renowned mezzo-soprano, as she moves from Bologna to her to new home, St Louis, this year. Orsi is a graduate of the Regia Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna and studied with famed tenor Sergio Bertocchi. Orsi also graduated from Modena’s Istituto Musicale Pareggiato Orazio Vecchi. She has participated in master classes and stage workshops with Teresa Berganza, Luciana Serra and Fred Carama, and Glenn Morton.

Benedetta is no stranger to the limelight as she has performed at Carnegie Hall for the Eighth Annual ABC Gala. Recent performances also include the role of Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera with the Miami Lyric Opera, Sara in Roberto Devereux in London and Jane Seymour in Anna Bolena with Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music Theatre. Other appearances include the roles of L’Italiana in Algeri and Carmen, as well as Giovanna in Anna Bolena, Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda and a special performance of Teresa in La Sonnambula with the New National Theater of Tokyo’s Young Artists Training Program.

Among competitions, she has starred in Academy of the West with Marilyn Horne in New York; the Rolando Nicolsi International Competition in Italy; and the Bidu Sayao International Singing Competition in Brazil. She has also won the Audience Award and Special Prize of the Italian Music Federation at the 28th International Piro Boni International Singing Competition in Italy, and was also chosen to receive a First Prize and Star Performer Award in the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition in 2011.


It is certainly a pleasure to have Benedetta Orsi make her home in St Louis. We hope she chooses to stay here for years to come. For more information on her upcoming roles at the Winter Opera St Louis, please visit their website:

Awards and Honors2014: Audience and Orchestra Award, Boulder International Vocal Competition

2012: First Prize, Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition
           Award in Recognition of Outstanding Accomplishments, American Protégé
2011:  First Prize, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition
          Scholarship Award, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition
           Star Performer Award, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition
           Award in Recognition of Outstanding Accomplishments, Club Unesco
2010:  Audience Award, International Singing Competition PieroBoni
           Special Prize, International Singing Competition PieroBoni
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Meet Italian violinist Elisa Citterio, Tafelmusik’s new music director

Hot-shot Italian violinist Elisa Citterio makes her debut this week as the orchestra’s director with A Joyous

It’s been three years since Jeanne Lamon retired as music director of Toronto’s illustrious Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. The new kahuna is Elisa Citterio, a hot-shot Italian violinist who makes her debut this week as the orchestra’s director with A Joyous Welcome, an appropriately titled program that not only opens Tafelmusik’s 2017-18 season, but ushers in a new era as well. Not entirely comfortable conversing in English, Citterio answered our questions by e-mail.

When you were brought in as a guest conductor last year, did you feel it was a sort of audition for the job of Tafelmusik’s new music director?

At that time I knew about the search process and that there were a few candidates being tried out. Everyone at Tafelmusik welcomed me so kindly that I almost forgot that I was doing an audition.

The news release announcing your hiring heralded a “new era” for Tafelmusik. What will the new era entail?

For the precise reason that Tafelmusik is so well-rooted, it’s natural to expect changes. We have a wonderful team and we can build on what they have achieved under the excellent guidance of former director Jeanne Lamon. I am looking forward to creating more educational possibilities for children, to attracting a wider variety of people to our concerts, to commissioning new works by Canadian composers, to trying some experimental programs and to touring in Europe, especially Italy.

What about musically? A quirkier style perhaps, or looser?

Jeanne Lamon has created a very recognizable style, and the musicians have a way of playing that is very solid and efficient. It would be easy for any director to put their stamp on Tafelmusik without distorting the orchestra’s characteristics. My objective is to respect the musicians’ sensibilities and their ensemble playing while adding my own personal interpretation. An explosive mix.

Is there a concert program this season that is representative of the changes you’re making?

This season was mostly done when I signed my contract, so I worked on just a couple of programs. A Joyous Welcome, starting this week, will be the first concerts of the season. And there’s Elisa’s Italian Adventure in October. Both of them are representative of myself, but the following season will be totally done under my artistic direction. Thank you for your patience.

Outgoing director Lamon described you as a “Tafelmusik person.” What does that mean to you, to be a Tafelmusik person?

If I have to think of one word about Tafelmusik, it’s family. Everyone shares their ideas and opinions and each result is the fruit of a team effort. My first objective is to share all aspects of musical life at Tafelmusik while being conscious of being the person who has the ultimate responsibility for certain choices. I think this aspect of my personality is in line with Tafelmusik’s philosophy.

If someone was unfamiliar with Tafelmusik, which recording by the orchestra would you suggest they listen to and why?

The recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies, to show that Tafelmusik can play much more than Baroque music very well.

How about yourself? Say you’ve had a rough day at the office, which recording do you listen to when you get home?

Bach’s The Goldberg Variations, since it reminds me a lot of my youth. Furthermore it is timeless music that always give you a different emotional experience.

Are you expecting rough days at the office? What’s your biggest challenge?

My big challenge is English. How much more would I be able to say in Italian!

Tafelmusik’sA Joyous Welcome, under the direction of Elisa Citterio, runs Sept. 21 to 24 at Koerner Hall and Sept. 26 George Weston Recital Hall. Information at 416-408-0208 or

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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