Urbania, Italy - June, 2023
While many people see summer as a time for relaxation, four exceptional students from the School of Music chose to embark on an extraordinary journey to Italy this year to further refine their skills as singing actors. Isabella Chaney, Alexander Harshaw, Madison Chambers and David Champion seized the opportunity to study and perform with the Festival of International Opera in Italy, better known as FIO ITALIA.
Under the azure skies of Urbania, Italy, these talented musicians delved into an immersive program that offered a rare glimpse into the world of Italian opera. The summer experience encompassed intensive Italian language instruction, coaching by renowned Italian opera mentors, lessons with some of the globe's most distinguished voice teachers and the chance to showcase their talents in concerts and masterclasses. Moreover, the students had the privilege of taking on significant roles in the operas presented during the festival, which were met with awe and admiration from the audience.
Isabella Chaney, with her enchanting voice, graced the stage as Tisbe in Rossini's enchanting rendition of "La Cenerentola," a delightful take on the Cinderella story.
For Alexander Harshaw, playing Beppe in "Rita" was a particularly significant milestone. He reflects on the experience, saying, "Participating in FIO ITALIA was a really great experience. Not only was it my first time with a lead role, but it was the first time that I was ever in a full-length, live opera." Alexander spent just over five weeks in Urbania, with the first three weeks filled with rehearsals and the performance of "Rita." The immersive experience extended beyond the stage, allowing him to explore Italian beaches in Rimini, visit Florence, and spend a night in Rome, soaking in the cultural richness of Italy.
Madison Chambers assumed the role of Zelatrice in Puccini's "Suor Angelica," leaving spectators in awe with her emotionally charged performance.
Finally, David Champion, in a commanding presence, portrayed the Commendatore in Mozart's "Don Giovanni," earning accolades for his powerful rendition.
The Festival of International Opera in Italy, FIO ITALIA, is a not-for-profit opera training festival nestled in the picturesque town of Urbania, Italy, situated within the Marche region. This summer, it played host to over fifty talented singers from the United States, Australia and China. The festival's Artistic Director and one of its co-founders, Kathryn Hartgrove, a full professor at the Georgia State University School of Music, ensured that FIO ITALIA continued to be a sanctuary for emerging opera talents, offering them unparalleled opportunities to refine their craft.
As the students resume their studies with a busy semester, they carry with them valuable experience, knowledge and a renewed determination to excel in the world of opera. The experiences of this summer are expected to have a lasting impact on their musical careers, positioning them as potential future stars on the international opera stage.