‘Diva Laura’ to entertain at Kiwanis lunch

“Diva Laura” will be the guest entertainer/speaker at the next luncheon of the Kiwanis Club of Wilton, on Wednesday, Dec. 16. She is the executive coordinator at Cobb’s Mill Inn in Weston, where she started the "Opera Dinners.”

Laura Papallo, aka Diva Laura, will present a medley of operatic excerpts and a chance to sing along with some seasonal favorites.

As always, non-members are welcome to join the Kiwanians at cost of $15 per person, which includes lunch and the guest entertainer/speaker. Reservations for non-members are a must and may be made by calling Bud Taylor at 203-354-0208. The weekly lunches, which take place at the Wilton Episcopal/Presbyterian Church Complex at 36 New Canaan Road, run from noon to 1:30.

Laura Papallo Friedman is known affectionately to her friends, fans and family as “Diva Laura” in tribute to her knowledge and love of opera and Italian song. As a classically trained soprano, Friedman has performed as a soloist in Europe and the United States for most of her career.

A native of Connecticut, she speaks six languages, and has university degrees in both literature and music. Her travels began as she honed her language skills in French, Italian, Greek, German, and Spanish. Her love of opera led her to Venice, where she studied voice with an old master who had prepared singers for the world-famous opera house of La Fenice. She returned to Connecticut and sang with the Connecticut Opera Chorus.

There she made the acquaintance of internationally acclaimed conductor Maestro Anton Guadagno, and joined his staff. Friedman traveled to many of his conducting assignments in France, Germany and Italy, meeting such international stars as Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras, and working at such sites of opera lore as Vienna, Paris, Bonn, Venice, and Verona. Returning to the States, Friedman met the “Ghostess with the Mostess” — Marni Nixon of Hollywood and Broadway fame. Ms. Nixon, the voice of the stars in several major movies, is one of America’s first cross-over singers. Studying with Marni Nixon was inspirational. During her time in New York, Friedman also studied at the Metropolitan Opera with voice coach Gregory Buchhalter.

Diva Laura has combined her passions for opera, Italy and the world of art by giving concerts, leading tours, and lecturing in Europe and the United States for the past 20 years. She served on the coordinating staff of the Trinity College /Elderhostel Tours in Italy, founded by Dr. Michael Campo. For several summers she has appeared in the “Spaghetti Musicals” of author Liz Fuller, who lives in Weston. In the shadow of Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven’s Little Italy on Wooster Street, Friedman loved starring in those “campy comedies” under the stars.

She hopes to bring them to Weston soon. Since her marriage to Drew Friedman, Laura and Drew have developed the Opera Dinner Parties. Laura Friedman may be reached at 203-584-3313 or divalaura2@gmail.com. The website for Cobb’s Mill Inn, at 12 Old Mill Road, Weston, is cobbsmillinn.com.