The 8th edition of the Masterclass “Corso d’Opera in Residenza in Florence 2020” (from 24th  August to 13th  September 2020), as in the other editions, selected 12 candidates among active students and auditors, coming from different nationalities such as Canada, Brazil , Ukraine and of course Italy. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions and anti Covid-19 regulations in force during the period of the Masterclass, 3 students could not attend the courses: therefore 9 young opera singers were the protagonists of “Corso d’Opera in Residenza in Florence 2020”. For the first year the courses were held in the splendid setting of Villa Favard, venue of the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory of Florence, which welcomed the activities of Corso D’Opera with enthusiasm, actively participating in the organization of the courses and in all initiatives.

Thanks to the support of the CR FIRENZE FOUNDATION and the “Per Chi Crea” project, MIBACT and SIAE, Corso d’Opera was able to guarantee completely free access to the 2020 Masterclass, board and lodging for the entire period of the courses to students who are resident in Italy, of any nationality.

The Masterclass began with the lessons of Technique and Interpretation of Chamber Music held by the tenor Leonardo De Lisi, (at the piano M ° Ulla Casalini), the students had the chance to begin the training course with the precious advice of a great teacher like Prof. De Lisi, professor of the Cherubini Conservatory of Florence, in an elective and niche repertoire (Italian-French-German), sometimes unjustly neglected in course of study of opera singers.

On the morning of August 27th , M ° Daniele Rustioni, conductor, principal conductor of the Opera de Lyon and artistic director of ORT (Orchestra Regionale Toscana,) held a lesson of Interpretation, accompanied on the piano by M ° Ulla Casalini, focusing with the students on the figure of the conductor and working with them on the interpretation of the conductor’s gesture on arias and ensemble pieces. He gave them fundamental indications on the interpretative and rhythmic approach to the study of musical pieces.

During the Vocal Technique lessons with the tenor Fernando Cordeiro Opa, at the piano M ° Beatrice Bartoli, the students were able to expand their knowledge of the vocal technique, also through an important physical approach to the body, and develop the knowledge of their vocality, thanks to excellent and sometimes “revolutionary” suggestions of Fernando Cordeiro Opa, discovering new important aspect of their repertoire.

Together with the Vocal Technique lessons there were also individual and group sessions of Bioenergetics with Dott. Alessandro Temperani, an innovative subject which was introduced in the 2013 Corso d’Opera’s edition. The Bioenergetics is a way to understand the personality through his energetic process: breathing, metabolism and discharge of energy in the movement. Alexander Lowen tells us that the word “personality” has two origins: the person as a “mask” and the person “through the sounds”: in this way the voice becomes expression of the personality. The students had the chance to understand the connection between the feelings and the voice and to notice that to free the feelings has helped a lot for singing. Everyone understood the importance to breath also with the rear rib cage.

After the Vocal Technique lessons it was the time for Interpretation with M° Michele Pertusi, international renowned bass and Testimonial of the Corso d’Opera, M° Beatrice Bartol  at the piano. During his lessons, M° Pertusi worked with the students on the fundamental and profound study of the interpretation of the score, preparing for the mid-course concert, which was held on September 4th at 9 pm in the Sala del Buonumore, the headquarters of the L. Cherubini Conservatory in Florence. During the concert he also performed alongside the students both performing arias from his repertoire and duets with them.

The first part of the course was further enriched by the sessions of Functional training for opera singers, according to the program conceived by the late Prof. Mario Marella, Biomedical University of Florence, Faculty of Sport Sciences (in partnership with Corso d’Opera since 2015), with his assistant Paolo Spicuglia, sports science trainer and expert.

Tests were performed by Paolo Spicuglia to identify the biomedical parameters of each student, both before and after the performance, during the general rehearsal and the concert on the 4th September. In this way it was possible to collect further data in order to continue the study “Biotype of the Opera Singer and related energy expenditure”. Personal forms were drawn up and delivered to the students containing an analysis of their physical fitness and a personalized functional training plan to improve their artistic performance.

The importance of this training becomes fundamental when thinking about new theatrical directions where singers are asked to run, climb or jump during the vocal performance. It was therefore shown to the students, in the Seminar “Art Performance and Top Level Performance”, with Paolo Spicuglia and M° Pertusi, how much the total body-muscular involvement, if not prepared correctly, could condition and even compromise the result of the performance or, on the contrary, improve it.

In the last week of the Masterclass, from 5th  to 12th  September, the lessons of Technique and interpretation of opera and chamber music were held by Alessandro Corbelli (M° Angelo Michele Errico at the piano) and the Acting Lessons, based on the techniques of body and mask, were held by the director Hugo de Ana (M° Clelia Noviello Tommasino at the piano).

These lessons too were a valuable training experience for the students, an enrichment of their professional experience learning from two great professionals with a long experience and internationally renowned.

The masterclass ended with a final event that this year, as in the 2018 edition, turned into a real show: accompanied on the piano by M° Angelo Michele Errico, the students performed, alongside M ° Alessandro Corbelli, in the wonderful park of Villa Favard in a dynamic, brilliant and engaging show thanks to the direction and costumes by Hugo de Ana and the lights by Valerio Alfieri.

In this part of the program the students had the chance to live the experience of a real theater’s production with costumes, make-up, stage direction and production direction, musical and directing rehearsals. They were accompanied and assisted in the preparation of the performance during which they had the chance to face and develop their qualities and talents, in front of a large audience, despite the anti-COVID-19 regulations had forced a quota of available seats.

As every year, the Masterclass was enriched by seminars held by professionals from the theater’s world:

THE IMPORTANTE OF STUDYNG FOR ADVANCING YOUR CAREER: RAFFAELLA COLETTI, Artist Manager and Director of the Corso d’Opera, will speak with participants about the necessity of developing a career plan, including the time to study new roles.

HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN YAP (YOUNG ARTISTS PROGRAMS): EVAMARIA WIESER, Casting Manager for the Salzburg Festival and Director of the Salzburg Festival’s YAP. Mrs. Wieser illustrated to the students the organization of the most important International Young Artists Programs (New York, Salzburg, Moscow…) with which she has collaborated for several years and she encouraged them to follow the calls for application for these study programs, indicating them the paths to follow and advising them on the artistic strategies to be selected: to study and a perfect preparation of the repertoire.

FEAR AND ANGER: EMOTIONS THAT CAN COMPROMISE PERFORMANCE AND THE CAREER. HOW TO MANAGE THEM? FABIO FASSONE certified trainer CEB –Cultivating Emotional Balance, California University –S. Francisco and Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and habilitation CEBTT –Cultivating Emotional Balance Teacher Training with Paule Eve Ekman, and Alan Wallace, he is a professor of emotional balance at UNIPI – University of Pisa.

Fabio Fassone spent a few hours with the students on the 4th September, dedicating two hours to the theoretical knowledge of different emotions and their impact on a performance. He explained to the students the strategies for managing emotions, especially negative ones, in order to make them a resource of positive energy that could benefit the artistic performance.

To complete the 20 days- training program there were two events on the 4th  and on the 12th  September: on 4th  September, a concert of the students at the Sala del Buonumore (headquarters of the L. Cherubini Conservatory of Florence), with the extraordinary participation of M ° Michele Pertusi, M ° Beatrice Bartoli at the piano; on 12th  September there was the final concert-show of the students at the splendid Villa Favard Park, with the extraordinary participation of M° Alessandro Corbelli, direction and costumes  by Hugo de Ana, lights by Valerio Alfieri and M° Angelo Michele Errico, at the piano.

The open days were held on the 3th, 4th,5th and 10th,11th,12th September and there were many important personalities of the opera sector as: Paolo Klun (MMF Manager Marketing and Communication), Gregorio Moppi (Repubblica), Francesco Ermini Polacci (Corriere Fiorentino), Danilo Boaretto (OperaClick Director), Susanna Toffaloni (OperaClick journalist) and Claudio Orazi (General Manager of the Carlo Felice Theater in Genoa. Claudio Orazi confirmed his interest in start a collaboration with Corso d’Opera and his wish to manage to include a production with the Corso d’Opera’s students in the next season of the theater.

Together with them there were also members of the Board of Directors of Corso d’Opera Carlo Mazzini, together with Michele Lai, EvaMaria Wieser, Maria Cristina Rizzi, Francesco Giovanni and Romola Tomasinelli, Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Pietro Sorrentino. This year too, RAI TG3 followed the Masterclass with a television service.

On the 13th September, in the Sala del Camino at the Hotel Ville sull’Arno in Florence, was held the final meeting of the masterclass and the students received the certificate of participation. Together with all the students and faculty members, there were the Corso d’Opera President Walter Vergnano, Vice-President Carlo Mazzini and General Director Raffaella Coletti.

During this meeting all the students expressed with their enthusiasm on the 2020 Masterclass and on the activities undertaken by the association since 2012, saying that during the masterclass they had the chance to work with artists who until then they “had only been able to hear on CDs “. They appreciated a lot to have faced all the different aspects of their future career, sometimes completely unknown and usually not treated in other training courses. They also said that the preparation for the final concert-show with a real direction was a crucial experience to fully understand the meaning of their profession. With the delivery of the certificates of participation, the meeting ended and it was enriched by the advice and suggestions of all the professionals present and affectionate greetings of “see you soon”.

All the faculty members have expressed their satisfaction and they found the Masterclass an excellent and complete project, both for the planning of the training course and for the excellent level of the students; they all confirmed their availability for future collaborations.

Everyone was enthusiastic for the “Corso d’Opera” masterclass, which has been defined as an example in the international panorama of the training courses of young opera singers, at a time when the tradition of the great masters is being “forgotten”.

Another element of excellence recognized in this Masterclass were the locations of the lessons, kindly offered by the L. Cherubini Conservatory of Florence:

The building and the park of Villa Favard, a splendid nineteenth-century villa recently renovated that became a branch of the L. Cherubini Conservatory and the Sala del Buonumore, the prestigious auditorium of the Conservatory’s headquarters.

The 2020 Fundraising Plan is exceeding the set objectives, allowing the Association to realize the project. This made it possible to welcome selected students completely free of charge, also financing for them board and lodging for the entire duration of the courses.

The 2019 input and output data of the young ex-students who participated in the previous editions of the Masterclass are significant. They are building their careers by obtaining contracts, winning competitions and being admitted to programs for young opera artists of the largest theaters in the world.

Corso d’Opera is gratefull to all its supporters, especially to the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze Foundation, the MiBACT and the SIAE (as part of the “PerChiCrea” project) and the precious collaboration of the L. Cherubini Conservatory of Florence.

Corso d’Opera is gratefull also to the Municipality of Florence, especially the Major Dario Nardella and
the Councilor for Culture, Fashion and Design Tommaso Sacchi for the Patronage and his technical partners: Giannoni Fabbri Vini Cortona, Residence San Niccolò Firenze, Hotel Ville sull’Arno Firenze, Hotel Florence Home Firenze, Ristorante Casa della Nella Firenze, Ristorante Pizzeria Pizzaman Firenze, Opera Click and L’Opera.