In Verona, a prestigious Academy for Opera
24 March 2017 Share

In Verona, a prestigious Academy for Opera


The Verona Accademia per l’Opera italiana (VAO) is a Centre for highest of  specialisation, that promotes and organises graduate master programmes, in “opera stage direction”, “set and costume design for opera” and “composition for opera and ballet”.

Verona!… the city that possesses the mighty Arena…
The Arena!… hosing the world’s most renowned open air opera festival since 1913. A unique experience for this spectacular and fascinating monument, made famous for decades for the high quality and variety of operas presented there. … And all this thanks to the brave, adventurous and original idea by a small group of enlightened artists and businessmen. Oh yes indeed! Verona! Opera! Arena!

And, only a couple of meters away from our beloved amphitheatre, came to light in 2008 the “Verona Accademia per l’Opera Italiana”. This too thanks to the innovative idea by another such small group of enlightened and motivated people. VAO is a consortium established by the Fondazione Arena di Verona, the Università di Verona, the Conservatorio “E. F. dall’Abaco” di Verona, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Verona, the Accademia Nazionale di Arte Drammatica “Silvio d’Amico” di Roma, the Accademia Nazionale di Danza di Roma, and the ISIA di Firenze; all of which is controlled, administered and supported by the Ministry MIUR-AFAM and the Regione Veneto.

VAO is a centre for highest of  specialisation, that promotes and organises graduate master programmes, in “opera stage direction”, “set and costume design for opera” and “composition for opera and ballet”. Students with a bachelor degree are admitted for these master programs, but we also welcome non degree holding students with an interesting artistic curriculum to participate in an auditory capacity.

The prestigious Casa Boggian, hosts the Verona Accademia per l’Opera Italiana, in which every inch lives and breathes opera, art and charm. All made possible by the enlightened lady, Clara Boggian who donated Casa Boggian to the city of Verona, for the use of the Verona Conservatory to further her love for the arts and culture.

And I, Cecilia, express my deep gratitude and thanks, not only for having had the privilege, the honour and the luck of being selected three years ago to be the Director of this amazing Academy, but also to all our associates who make VAO a continued reality! Unconditional happiness.

I was under the impression that managing and leading an opera academy would be very difficult, especially considering today’s economic climate. A climate in Italy in which government policy seems to be dismantling financial support for the musical arts and not to even mention how many opera foundations have been forced to experience temporary suspension of such funds. Of course all of which makes the futures of young artists incredibly vague and unpredictable.

However this said, what I encountered at VAO was a resolve and might in the form of enthusiastic students; busting with operatic fervour, talent and a dedication the theatre stage and to their studies. Students attending classes at VAO meet the very founders and history makers of the opera theatre. Legendary masters such as Gianfranco De Bosio, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Azio Corghi, Fabio Vacchi, Daniele Abbado, Giorgio Battistelli, Renzo Giacchieri, as well as known stage directors like Lorenzo Mariani, Leo Muscato, Marco Gandini, Francesco Micheli, Vivien Hewitt, Giovanni Agostinucci, Pier Francesco Maestrini, Giorgio Barberio Corsetti and Saburo Teshigawara. A giant of the Italian culture, Quirino Principe, as well as team of invaluable and irreplaceable teachers such as Mario Tedeschi Turco, Marzia Pieri, Giorgio Benati, Cristina Spiller, Filippo Tonon, Nadia Saccardi, Barbara Corradini, Christian Scalet. Furthermore internationally renowned costume designers such as Lorena Marin, Dada Saligeri, Massimo Pieroni as well as renowned operatic and symphonic conductors.

Dramaturgy and music, music and scenic composition, stage direction and set design, costume and make-up are all courses that are meticulously interwoven during the academic year. Apart from the academic material, VAO is probably the only academy that offers young students and aspiring stage directors such special and tailored programs.

Selected scenes and/or entire operas are staged with the help of young singers, some of them still students – I jokingly call them our “volunteer guinea pigs” and I take the opportunity to deeply thank them for their collaboration. They always make themselves available with great enthusiasm, at the opportunity to collaborate with the young directors build truly interesting productions.

Thanks to the success of this experience we decided to create, together with the Fondazione Arena di Verona, a course for Opera singers. This course will be finalised in the coming months and will act as a compliment to the opera studies at this Academy.

After the first months of theoretic lessons and practical workshops, we offer students active internships in famous opera theatres such as the Fondazione Arena di Verona, La Fenice di Venezia, La Scala di Milano, San Carlo di Napoli, Teatro Regio di Parma, Teatro Regio di Torino, Sferisterio Opera Festival di Macerata, Rossini Opera Festival di Pesaro, Opera di Roma, Opera di Firenze, Festival Puccini di Torre del Lago, Teatro Real di Madrid, Festival di Aix en Provence.

Herewith students not only face the difficult and fascinating reality of theatre, but at the same time have the exciting possibility to foster fruitful encounters for their future careers. During my career as an opera singer, the passion for which I was always know and distinguished, is now at the service of this amazing academy. My aim is to transmit all I can to each of the people that come in contact with us. The key factor of this academy is the idea that to work in theatre, one needs to get one’s hands dirty, learn to do everything that’s required, and to be ready to face emergencies head on, and to be open to learn from everybody. Simply put, the essence in making a great artist, and that which I wish for all young people today; humility.

Cecilia Gasdia
Director of Verona Accademia per l’Opera italiana – VAO (Photo Damarossa)

Top photo: Cecilia Gasdia




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