Nurturing Classical Singers: Supporting the Georg Solti Accademia

Project location: Italy
Project start date: n/a - Project end date: This project covers various years
Project number: 0000-01
Beneficiary: Accademia di Bel Canto


Sir Georg Solti, born in Budapest in 1912, was one of the great conductors of the 20th century. Music Director of numerous opera houses, including Munich, Frankfurt, London's Royal Opera and the Paris Opera, as well as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, his 50-year relationship with Decca resulted in 300 recordings, including 40 operas and his legendary Ring cycle.
Throughout his life Solti never forgot those who helped him and was always willing to assist young musicians at the start of their careers. He promoted several generations of young singers and musicians including Anja Silja, Wolfgang Windgassen, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Leo Nucci, Bryn Terfel, Rene Pape, Angela Gheorgiu and Renee Fleming. 

The Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto offers a unique training opportunity for young opera singers at the start of their careers. Created in 2004 in memory of the great Hungarian conductor Sir Georg Solti, the annual three-week summer course takes place in the Tuscan seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia where the Solti family still have their summer home. Places are offered to twelve outstanding international students, who are invited to immerse themselves in the language and culture of Italy while devoting focused time to mastering the art of bel canto, and benefiting from master classes given by leading opera singers and vocal coaches. The Italian vocal tradition, if properly learnt, gives singers an invaluable and sustainable technique and full access to the great repertoire works. Not all students have specialist and idiomatic training in this tradition at colleges and conservatoires.

A key part of its work is the Solti Peretti Repetiteur's Masterclasses held each Easter, offering a bespoke course for outstanding young pianists to develop the many skills required of a repetiteur, in collaboration with a world-class faculty and talented young singers. Over the past decade, inspired by Solti's values, the Georg Solti Accademia (GSA) has built a reputation for professionalism, rigorous discipline and attention to detail. It is in honour of his memory that many distinguished singers with whom he worked - including Mirella Freni, Kiri Te Kanawa, José Carreras, Leo Nucci, Luciana Serra, Daniela Dessi, Frederica von Stade, Mariella Devia, Thomas Allen and Angela Gheorghiu - have returned to pass on to the next generation the lessons they learnt as young artists.

The following legendary artists have given masterclasses for the GSA

  • 2005 Kiri Te Kanawa
  • 2006 Mirella Freni
  • 2007 Leo Nucci
  • 2008 Frederica von Stade and Kiri Te Kanawa
  • 2009 Dennis O'Neill, Jose Carreras and Kiri Te Kanawa
  • 2010 Richard Bonynge and Kiri Te Kanawa
  • 2011 Thomas Allen, Richard Bonynge and Kiri Te Kanawa
  • 2012 Angela Gheorghiu, Richard Bonynge, Dennis O'Neill
  • 2013 Daniela Dessi, Luciana Serra, Richard Bonynge, Dennis O'Neill
  • 2014 Mariella Devia, Luciana Serra, Richard Bonynge, Dennis O'Neill
  • 2015 Barbara Frittoli, Leo Nucci, Silvana Bartoli, Dennis O'Neill
  • 2016 Richard Bonynge, Angela Gheorghiu, Carmen Giannattasio
  • 2017 Richard Bonynge, Barbara Frittoli, Massimo GIordano

Since 2005 the support of the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has been integral to the establishment and development of the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto. Following the success of the 2005 Bel Canto course at which Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was its guest artist she was so inspired by the level of the teaching and organization that she agreed to fulfil a more prominent role with the Accademia as a member of the teaching staff. With the Foundation’s support over the years as Principal Sponsor from 2006-2008, GSA could attract young singers from countries such as Mexico, Russia, Japan, China, the USA, Canada, Sweden, South Korea, Russia, Australia, the UK and New Zealand with the standard rising each summer.

Accademia mentors were internationally renowned artists Mirella Freni, Leo Nucci, Frederica von Stade and again Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and they provided exceptional coaching and specialist tuition to those lucky enough to get through the rigorous audition process. The students had the opportunity to perform in public concerts which included performances with the local professional orchestra – the Orchestra of the Comune of Grosseto. They also had a free sitting with a professional photographer, each receiving a portfolio of publicity photographs as well as 30 copies of a CD recorded by the concerts – with support of the Peretti Foundation.

This sponsorship also made it possible for GSA to continue to provide an unequalled standard of faculty teaching with our Artist Director Jonathan Papp leading the team of experts in the field of Bel Canto. Some of the best coaches from the most prestigious international institutions collaborated with the Accademia Solti and were able to offer students precious insights from their own experience: Corradina Caporello, coach of Italian language and diction - faculty of the Juilliard School of Music in New York and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pepi Ferrari, Italian language and repertoire coach at the Royal Academy of Music in London and Maestro Paolo Speca, Baritone and Head of the Vocal Faculty at Pescara Conservatoire.

2008 marked the anniversary of the death of the great Maestro Solti, and the Foundation again played its part in commemorating this by sponsoring a gala concert at London’s Wigmore Hall. During this year Signora Peretti  collaborated with the Accademia to help develop a new project – the Repetiteur’s Course – which began in 2009 and became known as the Solti Peretti Repetiteur’s Masterclass Series in 2011. This visionary project was unique in its scope with an outstanding faculty including Pam Bullock from Chicago’s Lyric Opera, David Syrus, from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and our Artistic Director Jonathan Papp. Such was the interest internationally in this new venture that the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Programme sent 2 students to attend the Masterclasses. As the course has developed GSA been were hosted by different towns and cities including in 2013 - Barcelona where GSA was given a small theatre to use for the entire week. GSA's faculty included its great friend and supporter Richard Bonynge and  the final concert was attended by Signora Peretti and none other than Jose Carreras, as well as many other influential conductors and directors.

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