The amazing Carlisle Floyd joined V.O.I.C.Experience in 2011 for an American Composer’s Symposium. He stage directed scenes from his works, which included Cold Sassy Tree, Of Mice and Men, Willie Stark, Wuthering Heights and, of course, his Susannah. “To watch him give the stage direction to the work he created musically was so amazing and the singers rose to the occasion,” says program director Maria Zouves. “Many singers felt worried going into the project that they would not be able to give the complex musical and dramatic elements of his work the justice it deserved, but he lead them into an excellence they hadn’t experienced before—done with positive and simple suggestions very in line with his ‘southern gentlemen’ manner. The audience fell in love with his work all over again and was introduced to many new things.”
The five-week Italian Operatic Experience in Montecatini Terme, Italy, offers singers and accompanists the luxury to immerse themselves in 66 hours of Italian language and diction classes; work one-on-one with faculty in daily classes of musical, vocal, stage and dramatic coaching; and experience weekly performance classes and masterclasses taught by guest artists. The 2012 faculty includes soprano Judith Haddon (Metropolitan Opera) and countertenor Mark Crayton of Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. 2012 productions will be Mozart’s Così fan tutte, as well as Operatic Scenes, Aria Nights, and solo concerts in some of Italy’s most charming hotels.
The Hawaii Performing Arts Festival welcomed talented new faculty members in 2011 (many are returning in 2012) who injected energy into the entire season: Glee’s Brad Ellis and his wife Eydie Alyson, Richard Zeller, Mark Lamanna, Rick Harrell, and the always enjoyable dance/movement guru Julio Monge. Post-rehearsal sojourns to the moonlit ocean were regular occurrences, as were tropical hikes and visits to some of the most beautiful resorts in the world. Singers leave HPAF having moved to the next level in their capabilities and having created an exotic experience they’ll never forget.
The 2011 Druid City Opera Workshop featured among its faculty the authors of two new books. Linda Lister, director of opera at UNLV and the author of Yoga for Singers: Freeing your Voice and Spirit through Yoga, was a resident stage director and offered classes in yoga along with a masterclass on audition techniques. Alan Hicks, director of opera at University of Iowa, was also a stage director and gave a masterclass on acting techniques which are featured in his new book, Singer and Actor: Acting Technique and the Operatic Performer to be published by Amadeus Press.
Harrower Summer Opera Workshop in Atlanta was hot . . . in more ways than one! Denyce Graves in all her “Diva-ine” glory joined participants for a formal gala, winning her way into young artists’ and patrons’ hearts alike with her world-class renditions of Carmen’s Seguidille and “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix.” The next morning she continued to wow with an energized masterclass. The season culminated in performances of a major scenes program and Puccini’s Il trittico, directed by Copeland Woodruff, Dwight Coleman, and Carroll Freeman—a sensational way to end a successful summer.
SongFest 2011 was a season of firsts. Both composer Libby Larsen and pianist Roger Vignoles joined the SongFest faculty. SongFest, with the help of the Sorel Organization, commissioned three new works by Libby Larsen, which were premiered by SongFest participants on June 19, 2011, at Pepperdine University. SongFest 2012 art song faculty will include Martin Katz, Margo Garrett, and Roger Vignoles. Continuing its relationship with American composers, SongFest welcomes back Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, and John Musto, and award-winning composer William Bolcom joins the faculty for the first time.
The American Singers’ Opera Project’s 2011 participant Joanna Schnurman said of her time at ASOP, “The main thing I took away from this summer was a renewed love of singing and performing! Sometimes, with all the craziness of school and classes during the year, the passion for performance gets lost in the shuffle. But being around such great people, receiving so much encouragement, and having the opportunity to shine on stage brought my passion for singing back into focus!”
The Oklahoma City University’s Summer Music Program continues its Classical Voice and Opera program in 2011. Its curriculum examines classical technique, solo repertoire, and opera performance with daily classes in diction, acting, movement, ballet, vocal literature, and vocal technique. Evenings feature masterclasses and recital performances. On Saturday mornings, students get the chance to select their schedule with the “Saturday Electives,” featuring such classes as make-up lab, Pilates, yoga, stage combat, and performance career preparation. Studying with the acclaimed faculty of OCU’s Bass School of Music, students will work to develop the entire performer.
The Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute (BASOTI) celebrated an extraordinary 2011 summer at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with performances of Mozart’s seldom heard opera, La clemenza di Tito, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Vaughan Willliams’ Riders to the Sea, as well as many opera scenes. Seven voice teachers helped singers stay on track technically during the summer, in addition to classes in acting, auditioning, Alexander Technique, and ensemble singing. In 2012, BASOTI will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an ambitious season of Don Giovanni, Il trittico (all three!), and Handel’s Giulio Cesare.
Prelude to Performance went tuition free for the first time in 2011. Young artists thrived under the guidance of program founder Martina Arroyo in her role class, Ellen Rievman in her libretto class, Stephen Mo Hanan in stage craft, music coachings with Joan Krueger and Kathy Olsen, and much more. In addition, preparing fully staged productions of La rondine and Don Giovanni gave young singers a true professional level of musical preparation and dramatic understanding of these roles. The operas for 2012 are Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Verdi’s Falstaff.
The Johanna Meier Opera Theatre Institute was founded 13 years ago by internationally renowned Wagnerian soprano Johanna Meier, the first American ever to sing the role of Isolde at the Bayreuth Festival. “Our goal is to prepare young singers for the competitive world of professional music, by working with a faculty who have had major national or international careers. Most students, while still in school, have concentrated largely on vocal development, and we strive to encourage them to recognize and develop other facets of performance—body movement and character development, knowledge and use of text in interpretation, and to become aware of the demands and traditions of a professional opera career.” According to one young soprano from last year, the program is succeeding in this goal: “You have helped me to become not just a singer, but a performer.”
Seagle Music Colony’s 97th anniversary season in 2012 will include four full productions: Adamo’s Little Women, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate, and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. It will also present a touring production of Barab’s Little Red Riding Hood and a musical revue entitled Hooray for Hollywood. New for the 2012 season, four young artists will be engaged for an extended season in Sept. and Oct. 2012 to initiate a resident outreach program that will take a production of Operamania! to schools in the region. The four selected artists will also receive additional coaching and participate in several concert performances during the extended season.
The Institute for Young Dramatic Voices met for its fifth season in 2011. Participants sang scenes and arias by Verdi, Wagner, Strauss, and others. Faculty included Anthony Manoli of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program; Darrell Babidge, professor of voice at Brigham Young University; and Maestro Joel Revzen of Arizona Opera, who conducted the final concert. All students benefited from private lessons, and many got individual lessons with two or three teachers at once. Past participants are now appearing at La Scala, Covent Garden, and Vienna State Opera.
The Walnut Hill Summer Opera Program provides intensive training for vocalists in the art of vocal and opera performance. Students spend two weeks on the Walnut Hill campus rehearsing, as well as attending coachings and masterclasses, and then approximately eight days in Italy experiencing opera culture. Students visit La Scala and the Verona Opera Festival, and perform at Casa Verdi in Milan. They also have the chance to visit the birthplaces and museums of Verdi and Donizetti. The culmination of the program is a final performance given by the Summer Opera Program participants back on the Walnut Hill campus.
The MasterWorks Festival is an internationally recognized Christian classical performing arts festival in Winona Lake, Indiana. The Vocal Intensive Study Program (VISP) is designed for students age 18-30 who desire to effectively integrate faith and art, refine their vocal technique, perform new solo and operatic repertoire and prepare for professional auditions.
Teachers, opera directors, and coach/accompanists who participated in the May 2011 Classical Improvisation Workshop at Anderson University, all describe their experience in superlatives: “amazing,” “intense,” “eye-opening,” “life-affirming,” “exceptionally useful,” “innovative,” “perfect,” and “fun.” Experiential work with Ann Baltz (founder and artistic director of OperaWorks) was “presented in very learnable ways [and] stimulates creativity enormously.” The workshop “models great life skills/principles as well as opera-performance skills/principles.” “Ann is inspiring, hugely skilled and talented. The ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of her work is a powerful gift.”
La Lingua della Lirica (The Language of Opera) offers its fourth season in July and August 2012. During its 2011 season, singers and pianists offered six concerts, featuring over 30 operatic scenes, throughout Italy’s beautiful regions of Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche. The faculty continues its focus on refining details of diction, style, and phrasing in the Italian Bel Canto repertoire. The program welcomes Drew Minter in 2012, who will serve as both stage director and acting coach.
The faculty, conductors, and guest artists at AIMS 2011 were uniformly hailed as outstanding. Masterclasses were given by Christa Ludwig, the revered German mezzo soprano; Linda Watson, dramatic soprano (Bayreuth Festival, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper); Barbara Bonney, soprano; Michèle Crider, soprano; Gabriele Lechner, soprano; and Bo Skovhus, baritone. Conductors Edoardo Müller (La Scala, Metropolitan Opera), Gerrit Priessnitz (Vienna Volksoper), Joseph Colaneri (Metropolitan Opera), and Alexander Kalajdzic (Mannheim, Bielefeld) ensured our participants an experience of unparalleled musical excellence.
Joshua Collier, pictured as Nemorino (center above), had this to say about the Oberlin in Italy program: “Oberlin in Italy provided the perfect atmosphere for my vocal development and cultivated an intense love of the Italian culture and musical style by offering coachings and masterclasses with international artists. Not only was I given the opportunity to sing Nemorino as my International debut, I made many connections and lifelong amici!”
The 16th Elysium’s International Summer Academy for Young Singers in June 2011 focused on operetta excerpts which were directed and staged by Gregorij von Leïtis. Besides that, coachings, stage presence, diction, and dramaturgy were part of the intensive 10-day curriculum. The 17th International Summer Academy will be dedicated to German-language art songs based on Heinrich Heine’s famous poetry.
The Franz-Schubert-Institut 2011 summer festival academy in Baden bei Wien, devoted to Lieder from Schubert to Schönberg, welcomed 12 pianists and 17 singers from 14 different countries. The program supported a five-week holistic immersion in performing Lieder with masterclasses with Elly Ameling, Barbara Bonney, Robert Holl, Wolfgang Holzmair, Rudolf Piernay, Julius Drake, Irwin Gage, Rudolf Jansen, and Roger Vignoles. Participants enjoyed intensive exploration of the poetry and philosophy of nature in the Age of Goethe with resident coaches and scholars, as well as sauntering in the Vienna Woods and relaxing in wine taverns.
Opera Viva! offers young singers, conductors, and accompanists the opportunity to experience the musical and cultural riches of Italian opera through study and performance in Verona, Italy. Students immerse themselves in a three-week comprehensive seminar offering a full range of professional classes and activities, culminating in performance opportunities. The 2012 season will feature world-famous artists June Anderson and Cecilia Gasdia.
The Schumann Liederfest’s three-week itinerary offers daily language intensive study, numerous coachings, masterclasses, diction lessons, and substantial performance opportunities, as well as special-topics seminars on subjects regarding 19th-century German Romanticism. The repertoire will focus on the song literature of Robert and Clara Schumann but will also include other Romantic Liederists. Performances are presented at the Schumann Haus in Zwickau and Leipzig, and other possible venues.
For the 13th year, Middlebury’s German Summer Language School welcomed a dozen young musicians to its special “German for Singers and Vocal Coaches” session. For seven weeks, students studied German in Middlebury’s famous immersion environment and worked on German art songs and the staged production of Mozart’s Die verstellte Gärtnerin. Additionally, the summer included regular coachings with German pianist Stefan Rütter, masterclasses, and an audition workshop with a German agent. Next year’s program will also feature a masterclass, with mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn, and an acting workshop for the German operatic stage.
The Up North Vocal Training Institute (UNVI) launches its second season in 2012 on the beautiful Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City, Michigan. Its 2:1 student-to-faculty ratio and respected faculty assure another great summer at UNVI. Returning this summer are Lynn Eustis of University of North Texas and author of The Singer’s Ego, MaryJean Allen (co-author of What Every Singer Needs to Know about the Body), Julia Faulkner and Matthew Chellis, as well as guest masterclasses including baritone Nathan Gunn and Julie Jordan Gunn.
Modern music star, Barbara Hannigan participated at the Neil Semer Vocal Institute (NSVI) in 2011. She came to prepare Boulez’s “Pli selon Pli” to be sung touring the capitals of Europe with Boulez conducting the Ensemble InterContemporain. It was a thrilling “raising of the bar” to have such a high-profile singer studying along with the other singers. Her discipline, high musical standard, and personal generosity were motivating to all and her participation on the audition practice panel was supportive and insightful. Hannigan plans to return to NSVI in 2012.
Music Theater Bavaria’s opera and musical theater students performed to German audiences in several southern Bavarian locations last July, and 2012 students can again look forward to a showcase performance in the beautiful baroque salon of Neubeuern Castle. Now in its 12th season under director Richard Owens, MTB will again offer its intensive four-week performance training program and introduction to working in the German-speaking countries. While most students choose to work in either the Opera Studio or the Musical Theater Studio, students may opt for a crossover schedule, if desired.
James Madison University’s Opera Lieder Language and Culture had many positive experiences for singers in 2011. The professional mainstage production of the Middle-Saxony Opera’s The Maid of Orleans where students took over minor solo roles and participated in the chorus received excellent critical reviews from the German press. Students had opportunities with the professional orchestra to sing solo arias and ensembles in two concerts, and the second half of each concert featured a semi-staged performance of Suor Angelica. The program will not run in 2012, but plans to return in 2013.