Opera Memphis Creates ‘Marguerite Piazza Fund for Public Outreach’

Opera Memphis has established the Marguerite Piazza Fund for Public Outreach – a new fund designed to share the art of opera with new audiences.

Piazza was an American soprano, entertainer and philanthropist. She joined the New York City Opera in 1944 and was the youngest member of the company.

In 1950, Piazza made her Broadway debut in “Happy as Larry” before joining the cast of “Your Show of Shows.” She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1951, as Rosalinde von Eisenstein in “Die Fledermaus.”

Memphis became Piazza’s adopted hometown, where she was involved in numerous charities, particularly St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Piazza died here on Aug. 2.

The Marguerite Piazza Fund for Public Outreach was founded through a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor. The fund will support Opera Memphis’ community-engagement programs, reaching more than 25,000 people per year at public schools, social clubs, libraries and other community organizations.

“At a time when funding for arts education is so much at risk, the overwhelming generosity that led to the creation of this fund could not be more timely,” said Ned Canty, general director of Opera Memphis.

Donors interested in contributing to the Marguerite Piazza Fund for Public Outreach can contact Will Murray, director of development, at 202-4542.

Opera Memphis’ 2012-2013 season continues with Elixir of Love at Germantown Performing Arts Centre Feb. 2 and 5. Click here for details.

Cortona Gets Seasonal to Appeal to Cooper-Young Base

Cortona Contemporary Italian has revamped its service offerings with an updated wine menu, new daily specials and the addition of a private dining area.

“We’d rather have what people can relate to more readily available,” said chef/owner David Cleveland. “But still have fun, adventurous food.”

Cortona has tweaked its wine list with more familiar names and added more Fall-appropriate drink items like the autumn Manhatten, caramel apple pie and strawberry fields.

To cut down on preparation time, Cortona has narrowed its menu offerings to highlight best sellers as well as focusing on daily fish and seasonal specials.

The Italian restaurant at 948 S. Cooper St. has also added new features like a bacon wrapped filet, messicano and gamberetto pizzas, pumpkin ravioli, and a cranberry-sauced duck with mushroom wild rice risotto and braised Brussells sprouts.

Changes to the casual eateries’ interior include the creation of a “curtain room” that can seat about 35 people. Cleveland said it allows for a private dining option while shrinking up the main area and promoting a more intimate atmosphere.

Cleveland opened Cortona in a 5,000-square-foot space at the intersection of Cooper Street and Young Avenue about two years ago. He has more than 20 years of restaurant industry experience, including stints with Chez Philippe, Ronnie Grisanti & Sons, Café Society and Elfo’s.

Cleveland is encouraged by the activity the Cooper-Young area has seen as of late, including the addition of new bike lanes, “which could make a big difference.”

Cortona will continue its Happy Hour Tuesdays through Fridays as well as its live jazz music on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Follow Cortona on Facebook and Twitter for daily specials.

The Avenue Collierville to Return to Carriage Crossing Origin

Since opening in 2005, Carriage Crossing has been known by many names – most recently The Avenue Collierville.

But after being acquired by a division of Memphis-based Poag Shopping Centers LLC in the spring of 2012, the local owner opted to return the center to its original name.

The transition will be complete when Carriage Crossing unveils its new signage and hosts a ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m. at 4674 Merchants Park Circle in Collierville.

At 60 acres, Carriage Crossing is the largest lifestyle center in the Memphis metropolitan area and is located at Houston Levee Road and Bill Morris Parkway.

Memphis to Host 2014 NCAA South Regional

The NCAA has released the sites for the 2014 NCAA College Basketball Tournament. FedExForum will serve as the South Regional site with games to be played on March 27 and 29.

FedEx News: Hurricane Sandy and new “Ship to Friends” Facebook app

Hurricane Sandy necessitated a major contingency plan being executed by FedEx. The online business publication Quartz recently talked with FedEx spokesman Scott Fiedler about the preparations, which were a massive undertaking.

Preparation started about two weeks ago, he said. It included making sure facilities had power, equipment vehicles parked and ready to move, airplanes moved out of the area, and a lot more. It’s an interesting read, here.

In an unrelated bit of FedEx news, the company is partnering with Facebook for a new program. FedEx has launched a “Ship to Friends” app that lets its Facebook users send FedEx packages to their friends without leaving the Facebook ecosystem. (You still, of course, have to physically prepare the package and drop it off to ship).

Here are the details.

Dansette

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