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Carmela Altamura and Her Devotion to the Arts

In 2019, Carmela Altamura, operatic soprano and founder of multiple arts organizations, celebrates 50 years of service to the arts and the 16th edition of her signature biannual program – the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition. She is also celebrating her 80th birthday, providing a perfect occasion to highlight a golden anniversary year of service to the international arts community.

The celebration kicks off at 7:00 pm on May 1 with a concert and reception honoring Mrs. Altamura, with entry tickets benefiting the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition. The Benefit Reception and Gala Concert takes place at the Rockleigh Country Club in Rockleigh, New Jersey. Tickets are $150 per person. For reservations please call 201-866-6467.

The celebration year closes with the finals of the competition on October 25 and 26, in New York City at St. John’s in the Village Episcopal Church.

As a soprano, Carmela studied at Milan’s Verdi Conservatory in the late 1950s and early 60s. She created the innovative Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition to allow singers to avoid age bias by eliminating any age restriction and having auditions held behind a screen. Mrs. Altamura will sit on the distinguished panel of judges which include, Roger Malouf of Metropolitan Opera; Lewis Ehlers, Lombardo Management Associates; Domenico Boyagian, Cleveland Opera Theatre and Fr. Graeme Napier and Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki, Professor of Voice at University of North Florida.

In 1986, together with her husband, she founded Inter-Cities Performing Arts, Inc. to further ethnic, social, professional and cultural relations through the arts. The Academy of Fine Arts Music and Dance, later called the Altamura School for the Performing Arts, served as a magnet attracting talents from the immigrant youth in her community of Union City, New Jersey. The Academy offered high level training in music, dance and the fine arts and for many years, Carmela worked as a dedicated cultural ambassador for the Italian American community, including performances for consulates, civic and arts organizations, as well as singing at galas and benefits honoring government dignitaries.

As a little girl of eight, Carmela Bucceri Altamura left Sicily without her parents and traveled by sea to join family already waiting in America. After settling in the United States, she won many scholarships, from elementary school through college, including fellowships from Casa Italiana at Seton Hall University and the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Upon graduating from Caldwell University, the young soprano left to study at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, Italy. While there, she studied with opera’s golden era greats, including Elvira de Hidalgo, teacher of Maria Callas; Maestro Campogagliani, teacher of Luciano Pavarotti; Clotilde Ronchi, teacher of Boyajian and Madame Mercedes Llopart, teacher of Alfredo Kraus and Renata Scotto). In New York, she sang for Maria Callas at her Master Classes at Juilliard and Carolina Segrera and Licia Albanese, among others. She began her career in Milan’s Teatro dei Filodrammatici and continued to perform in the world’s major concert halls, including Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall.

Mrs. Altamura has been the recipient of many awards. In 1988, she received the prestigious Caldwell College (New Jersey) Veritas Award for her service to and leadership in the arts. The award honors those who “give of self to society, develop wisdom and knowledge, embody integrity, and seek truth.” In 1991, a Congressional Citation was presented by Congressman Frank Guarini to Ms. Altamura on the occasion of Inter-Cities’ gala celebration, A Salute to Italy and the Americas, at Carnegie Hall.

Many Italian American organizations have recognized Ms. Altamura’s contributions to the community. She received the Better World Builder award from the Italian American Historical Society and Woman of the Year from the Italian Cultural Institute in New York City. In 1991, she accepted a Who’s Who Award from the National Italian American Foundation in Washington, D.C. Many civic awards, including the Jersey Journal Woman of Achievement, presented to Ms. Altamura for her educational contributions to the underprivileged, attest to the significant time, effort and energy she has given to both her immediate community and to young artists throughout the world. She appears in the Who’s Who in the World publications.

Carmela Altamura is married to Leonard Altamura, a highly respected arts philanthropist and attorney with offices in Union City, New Jersey and New York City. Their daughter, Cristina, is a concert pianist, Fulbright Fellow to Italy and founder of Legacy Arts International. Their son, Leonard, is a computer consultant network engineer and founder of his own company, Wave Length Industries, located in Union City.