I will be making a masterclass tour this fall, and wanted to give a few thoughts on teaching.
I have been doing this singing thing for over 28 years now. (I started singing professionally in between my junior and senior years at university!) I have learned so much from all the teachers, coaches and conductors over the years, and I think it is important that I pass on the meshing together of the information from all these smart people! Among the many instrumental teachers and coaches in my development have been Norma Newton, Regine Crespin, Gerald Martin Moore, Barbara Moore, Patrick Summers, Marlena Malas, Hans Hotter, Regina Resnik, Marco Boemi, Irene Aitoff, Susanna Lemberskaya, Ethel Evans, Elena Servi-Burgess, Rita de Letteriis, Cathy Cathcart, David Miller, Jonathan Papp, Janine Reiss, and Bryndon Hassman, among countless others! Not to mention the great conductors who have taught me so much!
So I have started teaching privately when I am in between engagements – and sometimes during engagements, if a student is nearby. In addition, I have started giving masterclasses when I can, either during the run of a show, or in conjunction with a recital tour.
I have also mentored a few young professionals and one very talented beginner who is now a young professional himself. I have been a mentor and consultant to the Bolshoi Young Artist program in Moscow, where I gave countless masterclasses, taught at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI) in Sulmona, the Tito Gobbi estate in Rome, and have done a residency at University of Texas at Austin, as well as masterclasses at other opera houses’ young artist programs and in many universities (Loyola, Baylor, SMU, Texas State University, Southwestern University, Dallas Opera…)
I have a lot to offer students not only in the information I have to transmit (with a very keen ear!), but also in the human, humane and humorous manner in which I can cajole and entice them into stretching themselves and into learning new ways to listen and correct themselves. I have had some miraculous transformations of students, and I am proud that my long-term students are having professional successes, as well. I think it is important to give students tools to work on the different vocal challenges they are trying to correct, and for them to discover how to work on their own, once I am not there. I believe that the biggest talent in singing is not innate talent, but knowing how to work, and actually enjoying the work so that you put the time and effort into it that is needed for excellence. Students have to learn how to hear themselves, feel what they are doing right/wrong, and learn how to recreate the right way. This is what makes for exciting singing, because it is not happenstance – it is stable and consistent. Some students only get a fantastic sound by chance: this is not talent, and this is not enough. I can help students discover how to work and how to become more consistent singers.
Then, of course, there is the continual development of the ear. Singers don’t realize that things were not “so much easier when I was younger…” They just didn’t require as much of themselves and were complacent with what they heard. As singers, we have to consciously get pickier and pickier about what we accept as a beautiful sound from ourselves, and as a result, we can make amazing developments in our singing. Good singers are constantly analyzing sound, even though they may not consciously be aware of it all the time. I try to get students to make this process of analyzing and incorporating elements into vocal technique a conscious one.
The singer’s whole “package” is important, once they have their technique under control. I had to work extensively on my posture, acting, languages, and expression, and as a result I am in an optimal position to teach these acquired skills. I am especially proud these days when often my acting gets mentioned first in reviews. I did not start out as a good performer at all – – acting and stage presence are two things that I had to work extensively to acquire. My love for languages led me to pursue a second degree – in foreign languages, which has served me well in my life: I have lived in Belgium and Italy for the past 25+ years, besides traveling all over the world with my career!
In private studies, I work intensively with students, (pedantically sometimes!) and usually spend at least an hour and a half per lesson. I expect students to be highly motivated to record their lessons, take notes, review them, and work hard on the exercises given them in between lessons. I am interested in working with singers who are serious about making a career in opera singing and have the talent and work ethic to make it happen.
For students interested in studying with me at my home in Turin, Italy, I require a recent video or audio selection as an audition, and/or a recommendation by someone I know and trust. If you are a school or organization that is interested in me giving a masterclass there, please feel free to contact me, as well. After having a baby last year, I am interested more and more at being closer to home, so please take advantage of that! :-)
Dallas Opera Outreach Masterclass 2018
Rome Masterclass, 2016
Rome Masterclass, 2016
Rome Masterclass, 2016
Bolshoi Opera Young Artists Masterclass, 2010