What was so unique was that many of the coaches (Lucy Arner, Liora Maurer, Louis Menedez, Jane Steele
, and many more) were professionals both nationally and internationally with a wealth of knowledge to share.
I first learned about the IIVA program through one of my coaches, Ms. Jane Steele
, whilst a Young Artist with Opera Colorado.Although I was initially hesitant (as I had heard a few horror stories about summer programs), I decided to try out this program with my goals being to improve my understanding of Italian and its idiosyncrasies as well as improve both my performance and rehearsal skills.As the date to leave got closer, I was notified of what roles I would be expected to have prepared (some of which I was allowed to suggest).I was a bit surprised at the amount of music I was given (ah, the problems of being a tenor, eh?) I arrived knowing 60 % of my music well and the other 40 % was known, but would need more coaching.We were all met at Malpensa Airport, in Milan, by Ms. Steele
and bussed up to Chiari.From there we were separated to meet our host families and to get settled in our new digs.I was very fortunate to be housed at Anna-Maria Alborghetti's house with her
son and one other IIVA participant (who spoke much better Italian than I did).She
was the most wonderful woman who I am still in contact with, and is considered to be my Italian Mum.Not only did she
house us, but she
fed us, did our LAUNDRY (even though we asked her
not to) and helped us get around both the town and Italy as a whole.The program started the next day and from that day on I was busier than I had ever been.I was constantly in either coachings or rehearsals or in Italian class.Although I felt a bit overloaded, upon looking back, I would trade that for any temping that I am now doing.The coachings were with such world class coaches from theatre's such as the Met, New York City Opera and Opera Colorado, to name but a few, as well as coachings from Maestro Rigacci and Maestro Boemi (both very active conductors in and around Italy).
(administrative director) made a definite attempt to ensure that singers had an opportunity to do top-priority scenes e.g. in instances where singers were double-cast, singers were granted additional afternoon performances Attempt to tailor scene assignments to individual role requests : I submitted 4 potential roles to work on and was able to perform major chunks of two roles (Adina, Norina) in addition to scenes from 3 other operas! Voice Lessons : I worked 1-2 times/week with Mignon Dunn.Mignon helped me make several technical & interpretive strides.She
made many insightful suggestions about stage movement/acting based on her
extensive operatic career.Italian : Living with an Italian family is a great way to boost your Italian skills.There are daily Italian classes (although when schedules get crowded, attendance drops).CHALLENGES Money!!! Tuition, travel, spending money, phone bills add up.Some scholarship money (more for men, as usual), Others found sponsors or raised money through recitals etc.Prioritizing/Juggling a Very Full Schedule : -- The staff deliberately assigns a large number of scenes at the outset, knowing that some will fall to the side.Sometimes the schedule can become slightly overwhelming.