Welsh Academy students perform in Italy

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Young opera stars from Cardiff University are travelling to ‘the home of opera’ to showcase their talents and to develop their skills by immersing themselves in the culture that inspired the repertoire.

Students from the International Academy of Voice will undertake a three-week residency in the Italian town of Barga where they will perform a gala of operatic arias and ensembles, a sacred music concert, and a full-scale opera – Donizetti’s L’Ajo nell’imbarazzo (The Tutor in a Jam).

An annual event, the residency is an integral part of the Academy schedule. Students are able to build on the performances they undertake in Wales and fully develop their dramatic and interpretative skills. The residency also prepares students for their chosen future careers as they learn, memorise and perform a fully-scaled opera, engaging in the sort of production process that they will encounter in the main opera houses across the world.

Commenting on the residency, Dennis O’Neill, Director of the Academy said: “Italy is considered to be the cradle of opera and the majority of operatic repertoire that opera singers will learn is in the Italian language.   As well as giving Academy singers a valuable opportunity to perform, the residency also enables them to immerse themselves in the language and culture with a view to consolidating language skills and fostering a better understanding of the repertoire and culture that inspired it.”

Students stay in the picturesque mountain village of Barga, Tuscany and their performances are centred around the beautiful eighteenth-century theatre, il Teatro dei Differenti. The operatic gala takes place at the theatre on Friday 7th May, followed by the Sacred Music Concert on Sunday 9th May. The opera, Donizetti’s “L’Ajo nell’imbarazzo takes place on the 13th and 15th May.

The residency is run in collaboration with the Academy’s Italian partner Opera Barga and is now in its fourth year.  Many of the singers are invited back to take part in the Opera Barga Festival, which this year will take place from the 1st to the 10th July.  Funded by the Italian state, the Tuscan region and hosted in Barga Council’s Teatro dei Differenti, the festival was specifically set up in 1967 by Peter Hunt and Gillian Armitage to foster the careers of young singers and introduce both the singers and audiences to the vast world of lesser-known Italian opera repertoire.

The 2009 and 2010 residencies are generously supported by the Leonardo Da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme. (


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