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A World-Class Violinist Brings a Venetian Gala to Albion Castle

Adriana Molello shares how her eccentric background informs her work.

Mollelo playing at the Bali Spirit Fest.
Mollelo playing at the Bali Spirit Fest. Bali Spirit Fest

Ever since Adriana Molello was a child, she has sought diverse experiences to guide her development as a musician. As a young violinist in Colorado, she played in her school’s jazz and mariachi bands in addition to contributing to the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and the Colorado Young Sinfonia. Since then, she’s filled her passport with stamps and played alongside major acts such as Pharrell, Jim James, and Beach Fossils. Her strong sense of wanderlust is a passion that she channels into her work today as a musician and event designer.

Molello’s latest project is produced in partnership with Atlas Obscura and Per la Mente by Fernet-Branca. The Night Garden of Serenissima: A Venetian Fairy Tale is designed as an immersive event housed within San Francisco’s historic, 140-year-old Albion Castle. The evening will feature live music, dance recitals, performances, storytelling, and spirits evocative of the city of Venice, Italy.

A historical nickname for the capital city of Italy’s Veneto region, “La Serenissima” translates to “the most serene.” Italy’s city of water was traditionally known as “the most serene republic of Venice” and to this day, to call something Venetian conjures images of the luxurious, the languid, and the serene.

Molello emphasizes that the theme of The Night Garden of Serenissima: A Venetian Fairy Tale is site-specific to Albion Castle’s history and environs on the coast. The Albion Castle, with its six-story stone tower and two underground cisterns, was constructed in 1870 with a brewery on-site to supply beer to the many saloons of San Francisco.

Its libation-laced history aside, Molello particularly appreciates the castle for its secret passageways. As an artist, she favors details that exist out of sight. “My mantra is trying to awaken, trying to remind people of something they don’t even know they miss,” she says. “People innately have a sense of their past, their connection to this world.”

Molello’s curiosity has both led her around the world (she once traveled to Romania in search of the elusive Stroh violin) and informed her work at home in New York City. As a field agent and event curator for Atlas Obscura, she’s helped design one-of-a-kind events including Into the Veil at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, for which she arranged elements as varied as a French horn quartet, a butoh dancer, and fortune tellers. She’s also revisited Green-Wood as a curator for The Secret Mausoleum Club (a four-part event series in the cemetery’s crypts), and Concerts in the Catacombs. Last summer at the historic Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, she devised a night of Grecian-inspired revelry on the banks of the Hudson River for The Great Forgotten Garden Party.

Molello’s latest endeavor draws on her knowledge of Italian history and her experience as a tour leader in Venice. For The Night Garden of Serenissima: A Venetian Fairy Tale, Molello has designed an immersive event that promises to transport guests to the faraway romance of Venice while providing rare access to one of San Francisco’s historical gems. There will be no traditional stage, and elements of baroque and electronic music will commingle. “I’m really into how music affects people,” Molello says. “Music can be a spiritual experience. It’s a way to expand the audience more.”

She has just one suggestion for guests of the event: wear sensible footwear. Though the experience will no doubt be luxurious, guests of Albion Castle would be remiss not to explore the underground cisterns, stone paths, and tunnels that inspired Molello to concoct this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Per La Mente — which means “for the mind” — has been created by Fernet-Branca to be a source of discovery about what's possible across the vast universe of creative experiences. We’re endlessly curious about underground, experiential, and elusive culture, as well as the artists who make and love it. With every story, we share a spark of mystery, a hint of eccentricity, a dash of staggering originality, and a tinge of passionate genius. Think of Per La Mente as the storyteller, the enabler — the conduit to the path less traveled. Open your mind to some splendid adventures, like the one we have brought forth here.