Italian, American summer programs build strength for vocal student
5,000 miles separate two esteemed summer vocal programs for young artists. Si parla, si canta in Urbania, Italy, offers an immersive language program, while Vocal Arts Festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado, pairs guest artists with students to offer intensive master classes and performance opportunities.
Describe your summer experience in one word.
Life-changing. Si parla, si canta and the Vocal Arts Festival were very different, but both taught me so many different things! I learned so much that I have applied to my singing and artistry, and also myself as an individual.
How did you find out about these summer programs?
I heard about the Vocal Arts Festival from Steven LaCosse, my opera workshop teacher. He is one of the many wonderful faculty members at the Vocal Arts Festival. During tech week of “Impressions de Pelléas” (the Spring 2018 opera), he expressed how wonderful this program would be for me and how much he wanted me to attend. Without much hesitation, I sent in an application and was accepted.
I found out about Si parla, si canta from one of my good friends who had attended the program the year before. My voice teacher, Marion Pratnicki, knows the program director very well and spoke highly of the program!
How did you prepare for the work you’d do over the summer?
I was sent all of the music that I would be performing prior to attending each program. I spent a lot of time researching each opera scene, translating them, writing in the IPA (international phonetic alphabet) and learning the music. I sang in three opera scenes in Italy, along with the chorus of Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.”
I also sang Nannetta in the letter scene from “Falstaff,” Adonella from “Francesca da Rimini,” and Leonora from “Stradella.”
While I was in Italy rehearsing for the concerts, I was also learning and preparing all of the music for the Vocal Arts Festival. I used the same method of learning music as I did for Si parla, si canta.
In Colorado for Vocal Arts Festival, I sang Zerlina in “La libellule in L’enfant et les sortilèges,” the Act 1 finale of “Don Giovanni,” and Liz in “Chicago’s” “Cell Block Tango.”
Did the two programs offer different experiences as a vocalist?
The main difference between the two programs is that Si parla, si canta is a language program. The host mom that I lived with didn’t speak any English, so I learned how to speak some Italian! Better yet, I learned how to sing in “la bella lingua” of Italian.
The Vocal Arts Festival was more of a young artist program. We had lots of performance opportunities, master classes and had the chance to work with guest artists.
What were your days like at Si parla, si canta?
I started every morning with three hours of Italian class at Centro Studi Italiani, followed by rehearsals in the afternoon and either a master class or a concert in the evening. Throughout the program, we had numerous guest artists give master classes, we sang in an aria concert in the Salone at the school and we traveled to Piobbico and Urbino to give an opera scenes concert. Our final opera scenes concert was in the Teatro Bramante in Urbania, which was built in 1885.
How about the Vocal Arts Festival?
At the Vocal Arts Festival, we had coachings and rehearsals pretty much all day, four lessons throughout the program, an acting class and a dance class. All of our scenes were fully staged, so we typically staged each scene in one week—which made the rehearsal process extremely fun! I sang in two opera scenes concerts, a concert with Craig Terry (the music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Ryan Opera Center), and master classes with Craig Terry and Peter Randsman.
Share a favorite moment from your summer:
One of my favorite memories from Italy was right before our concert in Urbino. We were called on stage to run through our group numbers and I will never forget how it felt to be standing on stage and looking out at the gorgeous opera house. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this is what life as an opera singer is like? This is a dream come true.”
How do your summer experiences relate to your future career?
This summer was huge for helping me to think about my future career. One moment that stands out to me was getting to sing for an agent from New York City during Vocal Arts Festival. He gave private sessions and several master classes that were so helpful and crucial in helping me to develop into a better singer and actor.
What did you learn about yourself?
This summer has been all about growth. I grew as a singer, artist and as a person. I fell more in love with opera and performing this summer, and that is all because of the wonderful opportunities I had.