Solti-Peretti Répetitéurs Masterclasses

Project location: ITALY
Project start date: December 2008 - Project end date: This project covers various years
Project number: 2008-27
Beneficiary: Accademia di Bel Canto



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Solti Repetiteurs Masterclasses 2012

4-15 April, 2012 - Villa Finaly and Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, Fiesole, Florence

The 2012 edition of the Solti-Peretti repetiteurs' course was marked by an exceptional level of talent amongst the participants. It exceeded all our expectations based on last year's success, this was commented on by all of the teaching staff.

The talented participants came from Germany (Eva Budniak), France (Edwige Herchenroder), Italy (Dario Bonuccelli), Turkey (Berrak Dyer), the UK (Gregory Drott) and USA (Emily Senturia), representing the following institutions: the Royal Academy of Music, the Guildhall School of Music, the Genoa Conservatory and the Wales International Academy of Voice. There was an age range amongst the participants of 25-29 years.

The 6 singers that participated all came from previous editions of the Georg Solti Accademia and represented the following nations: Armenia (Tereza Gevorgyan),Portugal (Alberto Sousa) and the UK (Adam Marsden, Meeta Raval, Ross Ramgobin and Sarah-Jane Lewis).

Also this year an extraordinary faculty gathered for the occasion to train the six outstanding students including Pamela Bullock from Chicago Lyric Opera, Tony Legge, formerly of ENO and now at Opera Australia, Jonathan Papp, Director of the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto, Audrey Hyland from the Royal Academy of Music and the Italian language coach Roberta Biondi.

The work that the course was based upon was very much facilitated by the wonderful venue, which enabled every aspect of the course to take place under one roof; a real rarity and invaluable benefit for the Accademia.

As in previous years, the participants were set various assignments ahead of time, so that they could arrive fully prepared. On top of this, other ‘extra' tasks were set at the last minute, as so often happens in the profession. Everyone rose to the challenges that were thrown at them.

The majority of the work could be divided up between Cosi fan' tutte and general coaching. During the general coaching, the staff would listen to the coaching sessions being given by the students to the ‘guinea pig' singers. In turn, we would offer feedback on not just musical points, but also on how they worked with the singers, their approach, and of course getting the most from the score. This work was often performed ‘prima vista'. This is an essential part of the work for a coach/rep, and it was fascinating and gratifying to watch how they all developed during the week, gaining in confidence and strength, applying greater thought to the score and the drama that needed to be conveyed. Each of the singers on the course had very different strengths and weaknesses, vocally and personally, giving the pianists a very different range of experience between them all.

The work on Cosi took two forms: there was the Overture to arrange for five pianos and there was the Act 1 Finale to study, coach and conduct.

The Overture was an exercise for them to study the full score and to incorporate as many parts as possible, divided between the five pianos, with one of them conducting. Then there was the aural side, conveying the sounds of the different orchestral instruments. Finally, five pianos in an ensemble need to be so precise; there is not the same leeway as you would have with an orchestra. This meant that not only was it a great exercise for the conductor, but it taught all of them to listen with great attention to the ensemble. This project was show cased in the final concert.

The Finale involved all the above mentioned work, but it was only for two pianos, plus the six singers. Each of the repetiteurs conducted a section and played in a full, non-stop performance of the Finale. The conductors had to learn how to efficiently use their rehearsal slots, getting the most from the ‘orchestra' and the principals. This meant that they also had to understand how to work on the text in order to achieve the ensemble work that is so necessary in this music. Again, they all rose to the challenge. One of the students had had no conducting experience before and asked not to take part. However, they were persuaded, and they were delighted to have done it. It was a whole new world to them, and they took to it like a duck to water, immediately being offered an assistant conducting job back in the UK, by Audrey Hyland.

In the Cosi Finale part of this project, as in the Nozze di Figaro Finale, the pianists had to learn to be able to sing in the different roles - a basic part of the work of a repetiteur. This came in very useful for the final concert when the mezzo soprano fell ill. They all had to take it in turns to sing in her vocal line during the rehearsals and concerts.

The Nozze di Figaro extract was set up for them to work without singers, preparing all the vocal lines. This was done towards an audition which was held by Maestro Bonynge. He inspired them all with his thoughts on breathing, musicianship and conducting. His greatest inspiration was his own conducting of them, where with barely a move of his finger, he could shape what they were playing and elicit an orchestral sound in a beautifully breathed phrase.

Apart from the Cosi pieces, the final concert included arias from each of the singers, demonstrating the work that each pianist had done. The concert was very well received.

Everyone, staff and students alike, remarked on the beauty of Villa Finaly and Villa San Michele which generously hosted on April 11th a concert in aid of the charity FILE, a Florentine charity that provides hospice care for terminally ill patients, and a very special event: this year BBC2's series Maestro at the Opera, a collaboration between the Royal Opera House and the BBC that came visiting the Solti Peretti course in Fiesole. The two celebrity apprentices who get through to the last round of this knock-out competition received training from our leading coaches to conduct an Act of one of Puccini's greatest scores. Apprentices included comedienne Josie Lawrence, DJ Trevor Nelson, and Professor Marcus Du Sautoy, and judges include Sir Mark Elder and soprano Danielle De Niese. The apprentices were also given the immersive Italian cultural experience for which the Accademia Solti is justly famous, and essential to an understanding of Puccini's art.

Finally, the Accademia offered the music school in Fiesole access to their faculty for a whole day's open masterclass for its own students on 12th April, culminating in an evening concert featuring the Solti Peretti repetiteurs and student singers from the Scuola Musica di Fiesole.


Solti Repetiteurs Masterclasses 2013

2 - 10 April, 2013 - Teatre Akademia .Barcelona. Spain

This year saw the move of the Solti-Peretti Repetiteur course to Barcelona.

The Accademia was given a small theatre, the Teatre Akademia, as their working space for the week, complete with a floor above the theatre in which individual practice rooms had been set up especially for the course. It was an ideal arrangement, and all only three minutes' walk from the hotel where they were staying. As ever, the core staff consisted of Jonathan Papp, Audrey Hyland and Pamela Bullock. For the final days they were privileged to have Richard Bonynge join again.

As always seems to be the tenor of these reports, the level of talent was exceptional; even higher than in previous years. The six pianists threw themselves into the tasks assigned with alacrity and a lot of skill and openness to all the ideas that were being thrown at them. They were given a talented collection of singers with whom they tried out both their coaching skills and conducting skills, all under expert guidance from the highly experienced staff. Of course, with the arrival of Richard Bonynge, there was a focus on Bel Canto repertoire and conducting skills. Their greatest challenge was set in honour of this Wagner year: they made their own arrangement of the overture to Tannhäuser for five pianos. This was a task set only once before in a previous course. However, this time they were no longer in a boat shed with a lot of upright pianos. This time, there were three concert grands and another two smaller grands for them to perform on in a real theatre. The understanding and refinement of orchestral colour that they managed to bring to the task more than justified their hard work.

The final concert was a sell-out, and included amongst others, two honoured guests: Elsa Peretti, the Accademia's longtime sponsor and supporter, as well as Jose Carreras. Singers and pianists alike were very excited to have this opportunity to perform to such a select public, which also included conductors and artistic directors of the opera houses.


Solti Repetiteurs Masterclasses 2014

22- 30 April, 2014 - Venice. Fondazione Giorgio Cini. Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore.


In 2014 the Masterclass project found an extraordinary home in Venice. A place so inspiring, and with all the facilities in one place that enable the team to work so well, and this in turn allowed them to achieve a quite extraordinary final performance. The concert that took place in the Sala degli Arazzi was at full capacity (400 people)
The pianists arranged the Tannhäuser Overture from full score for the five pianos. The hall/Sala degli Arazzi was beautiful, hung with tapestries, and for the show the team had lighting only on the performers and the tapestries, and it looked wonderful, a real spectacle. The hall was packed. In fact, it had already sold out before the musicians had arrived, so there was a real sense of occasion for these young artists to perform to a discerning public, which included guests from La Fenice.
A new and welcome addition to the course was James Vaughan, the Director of Music at La Scala, who came to join the project, and inspired all.

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