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The Italian job

12 June 2009

Music notaton with rose on top of it

A fully staged opera will be the pinnacle of a two-week Italian residency for students from the Cardiff International Academy of Voice.

From 14-28 June 2009 the students, who have refined their vocal technique over the last year at the prestigious Academy, will give a series of public performances in the Tuscan town of Barga.

An intensive programme of events has been co-ordinated, designed to showcase the students’ world-leading potential. The programme includes an operatic gala, a sacred music concert and the highlight of the residency, two performances of Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto, a light hearted operatic farce considered one of the finest operas of the 18th century.

Directed by Robin Tebbutt and conducted by Phillip Thomas the opera will be presented on two nights during the visit and has been double-cast so that all students get the opportunity to perform. The students will be joined for their performances by an exciting young Italian orchestra Lo Spartito, based in the nearby town of Lucca.

Academy student Claire Egan, a soprano from New Zealand said: "This is such a wonderful opportunity - I'm so excited about going to Italy! We've been working so hard to learn the opera Il Matrimonio Segreto by Cimarosa. This will be my first visit to Italy and I can’t believe that I'll be performing this opera in Italian in front of an Italian audience."

With the exception of the Sacred Music Concert, all performances will take place in the 18th Century opera house the Teatro dei Differenti in Barga.

The residency is a collaboration with the Opera Barga Festival and, in this third year of partnership is the most ambitious programme presented to date. There is a long-standing tradition in Barga of courses for young artists coordinated by the Opera Barga Festival.

Dennis O’Neill, Director of Cardiff International Academy of Voice says "The influence of Opera Barga on my career was immeasurable. Its high working standards, unique environment and the warmth of the local community opened my eyes to the whole world of Italian culture and my path was set. To be part of the team passing those traditions on is easily one of the most satisfying and important tasks with which I am involved"

Nicholas Hunt, President of the Opera Barga Festival said "The collaboration between Opera Barga, the Cardiff International Academy of Voice and Dennis O'Neill provides young singers with an opportunity to live a unique production experience, in a place and a theatre that is full of the tradition of Italian opera. This was the purpose of the Festival from the outset and thanks to this new tie, and others we intend to set up in the future, a network of opera production opportunities for young singers. One has to thank the European Leonardo Project and the British Eurotec agency that they also saw the merit of this initiative."

The Leonardo Programme, part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme has supported the residency with an award of €88,000 over two years. Leonardo supports the development of skills and training, funding work placements for trainees, workers and staff, and supporting European projects to discuss common issues or develop training materials, courses and frameworks.

The residency concludes a year of study at the Academy during which time the students have been mentored and coached by renowned figures from the operatic world, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

The students’ last public performance in Wales as part of their Academy training is an Operatic Gala concert, held on Saturday 13 June – the day before they depart for Italy - at the University’s concert hall.

The Academy provides a unique environment for some of the most exciting new talent in world opera to refine, develop and cement their vocal techniques.

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