It was a picture-perfect day on Italy’s Amalfi coast for Carol Foley and her husband. The Bellingham couple had awakened that morning in a clifftop hotel in Sorrento, and then spent the day touring the Isle of Capri.
When they returned to their hotel and the maître d’ urged them to book dinner reservations so they could enjoy live entertainment by a local tenor, Foley rather giddily consented. Neither she nor her husband was particularly interested in opera, and a tenor at a hotel restaurant sounded pretty touristy to her, but the whole day — in fact, the whole monthlong vacation in Italy — was turning out to be so dreamy that she figured an evening of local entertainment would simply add to the ambience.
To Foley’s surprise, the experience of hearing Carmine Orsini turned out to be nothing short of transformative.
“It was phenomenal. His voice was magical; it hit me like a bolt of lightning,” Foley recalled of the Italian arias and other classical favorites that Orsini sang that evening.
Later, Orsini visited diners tableside, and Foley asked him whether he had ever performed in the United States. “No, I don’t have any contacts to help me get hired there,” he said.
“I’ll find you a contact!” said Foley, without considering that she knew nothing about the Boston area performance scene, or how to get into it.
Nonetheless, Foley’s determination to bring the gift of Orsini’s voice to her friends back home has paid off. As part of a weeklong visit to the United States, he will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday at Amazing Things Arts Center, 160 Hollis St. in downtown Framingham.
Amazing Things artistic director Michael Moran admits he doesn’t usually take random suggestions for performers, but he made an exception. “Sometimes the stars align in the right way,” he said of the conversation with Foley. “I decided to book him sight unseen because of Carol’s enthusiasm.”
Although he earned a master’s degree in geology, Orsini, who is in his early 40s and comes from a small village near Naples, has pursued his passion for music professionally for the past several years.
“Even when I was 4 or 5 years old, the notes of the piano attracted me,” he said. “It was a beautiful emotion.
“My great-grandmother played it; my grandfather and my mother sang. I love Italian opera: Bocelli, Pavarotti, Mario DelMonaco, Caruso, Mario Lanza. When I sing, they are my inspiration.”
Though he has traveled and performed extensively in Europe, this is Orsini’s first trip to the United States.
“I love the American people, and I hope they will like my music and my voice,” he said. “I think in Italy, opera music is less appreciated now, whereas other parts of the world are growing to enjoy it more.”
Orsini will be accompanied by Amazing Things regular Tom Lamark on piano. General admission tickets are $22, with discounts to $21 for students and seniors, $18 for Amazing Things members, and $10 for children under 12. For tickets or more information, call 508-405-2787 or go online to www.amazingthings.org.
MORE MUSIC: The Hudson-based ensemble Symphony Pro Musica will feature a new composition by Hudson resident Margery Goldstein, “Winter Symphony,” as part of its 30th anniversary showcase performances, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hudson High School, 69 Brigham St., and 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Mill Pond School, 6 Olde Hickory Path in Westborough. Advance tickets are $22, or $18 for seniors; at the door, admission is $25, or $20 for seniors. Admission for students through grade 12 is free. For tickets or more information, call 978-562-0939.
Paul Rishell and Annie Raines will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Homegrown Coffeehouse at First Parish in Needham, 23 Dedham Ave. Rishell is nominated for two 2013 Blues Music Awards, Acoustic Artist of the Year and Acoustic Album of the Year, for his solo album, “Talking Guitar.” Raines, a harmonica virtuoso, appears in the new film “Pocket Full of Soul: The Harmonica Documentary,” narrated by Huey Lewis. Together Rishell and Raines have recorded six albums and have received multiple blues music awards and nominations. Tickets are $18, or $15 for seniors and students. For more information, call 781-444-7478 or go to www.uuneedham.org.
The Armagh Coffee House at Holy Family Parish, 62 Monument Square in Concord, presents Sue Kranz and Ben Tousley, who sing and play flute and guitar, Saturday 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15, or $5 for children under 12. For more information, call 978-369-7442.
Sounds of Stow Orchestra and Chorus, directed by Barbara Jones, will perform Handel’s last and most profound oratorio, “Jephtha,” Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Hale School auditorium, 55 Hartley Road in Stow. Tickets are $25, or $20 for seniors and students. For more information, call 978-562-0302 or go to www.soundsofstow.com.
The Chancel Choir and Orchestra of Hancock Church, 1912 Massachusetts Ave. in Lexington, will explore the Passion of Christ through music and words Sunday at 4 p.m. The choir will be joined by a professional orchestra and soloists, with poetic reflections drawn from the works of Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Updike, and Mary Oliver, among others. For more information about the free event, call the church at 781-862-4220.
ART ALL AROUND: This weekend, Paradise City Arts Festival returns to the Royal Plaza Trade Center, 181 Boston Post Road in Marlborough, showcasing artists working in a wide variety of media, including jewelry, sculpture, painting, drawing, glass, and furniture. The sale will be open Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $8 students; children under 12 free. For details, go to www.paradisecityarts.com.
The Clark Gallery, at 145 Lincoln Road in Lincoln, is presenting paintings by Warner Friedman and Gordon Lee through April 6. Friedman uses meticulously rendered architectural structures to frame New England landscapes with shadows, light, and trompe l’oeil effects. Lee’s work focuses on everyday objects and the Chinese cultural icons of his heritage. Call 781-259-8303 or go to www.clarkgallery.com.Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com. Please put the date of the event in the subject line.