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Wildwood celebrates Italy 

Wildwood Park’s 15th Festival of Music and the Arts will focus on the Italian spring festival with a twist, as its 45-day-long celebration, “Festa della Primavera,” begins Thursday, June 2. The festival features the opera “Tosca,” Italian winemaking, Italian piano music and gardening Italian style. Also included is an Arkansas Repertory Theatre presentation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” outside by Wildwood’s Swan Lake June 30-July 16 and a Pops Series concert by classic experimentalist rock band Hot Tuna, led by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and former Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, on June 25. Ann Chotard, Wildwood’s director, who has staged other classic operas in recent years in unique settings, will employ the cultural, social and political activity of early 19th century New Orleans in telling the tale of “Tosca.” Six distinct series of arts and educational events make up the festival: the Opera Series, Cabaret Series, Pops Series, Garden Series, Visual Arts Series and Theatre Series. Menus with an Italian flair highlight the Italian festival theme for pre-show dinners at the park. Wildwood has also partnered with the Arkansas Arts Center for a portion of the festival, with the exhibit “Piranesi: Master Etcher of Rome” already on display at the AAC through July 17. Events around “Tosca” begin June 10 with “Wine and Song: A Preview of Tosca” at the Lucy Cabe Festival Theatre. “Tosca” will be performed June 17 and 19 at the park, then June 21 in Hot Springs. The festival opens Thursday at the Arkansas Arts Center with “A Roman Holiday,” an Italian-themed party with Roman and Italian art, music, a Tuscan-style menu and readings from from the 16th through 20th century. The party begins at 7 p.m. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, June 8-9, the Festival presents “Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa: Italian Icons of American Popular Music.” The program is at Wildwood Park’s Cabe Theatre. For a complete schedule, visit www.wildwoodpark.org. For tickets, call 821-7275, ext. 232.
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