My name is Carina DiGianfilippo and I had the opportunity to perform as Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the International Lyric Academy this past summer. I had such an amazing time and Maestro Vignati is wonderful to work with! We had the opportunity to work with the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra, many talented teachers and coaches, and to perform in beautiful and historic venues.
Something particularly special about this program is that it provides great opportunities for career growth. You have the chance to sing for many people who can help to advance your career, including agents. Claudio Ferri, the general manager of ILAR, is also the general manager of Royal Artists Management. I had the chance to sing for him many times throughout the program in concerts, rehearsal and the opera, and after the program was over, he offered me a place with Royal Artists Management. I now have an agent and someone to help me with my career. I can’t thank ILAR enough for this opportunity!
Carina Di Gianfilippo (summer 2016)
Dear Maestro Vignati, Claudio, Valeria y tutti
I am writing to share my feelings on how fortunate I am to have performed with Accademia Lirica Ilar Italiana’s orchestra in both Viterbo, Italia and Los Angeles, USA. I am so thankful for these opportunities. The time spent under Maestro Vignati’s baton with great, authentic, operatic musicians performing the great works of opera has been priceless experience for me as an orchestral trombonist. Not too mention the joy of performing in two of the worlds great cities, Roma y Los Angeles, or spending a summer in the incomparable Tuscan countryside. I have so many memories which will last a lifetime from my time in Tuscia, but most importantly, I have talented and passionate friends and associates all around the world. Until we meet again, grazie mille for the lovely music!
Dear Valeria, Claudio, Stefano and everyone else that helped make this summer possible. First off, thank you so much for the incredible opportunity of singing with your program this past July. From the great voice lessons with Kenneth Cox and Leanne Freeman-Miller to the fun-filled Italian lessons with Hanna to the invaluable experience of working with Stefano AND PERFORMING with Alfonso, I can honestly say that I came out of this program both a stronger performer and person. I really do
appreciate all of your hard work and care, especially in dealing with the few, unexpected surprises! If ever the chance arises, I would love the opportunity to perform with you again, whether it be in Italy, America, or anywhere else. Congratulations on what I heard was an exceptional rest of the festival, best of luck with the upcoming audition season, and I hope to hear from you in the future!
Gabriel Di Gennaro
Valeria, Claudio, Maestro Vignati, and Tuscia Staff,
I want to thank you all for such an amazing experience in Viterbo this summer! Renting, moving, and planning for the harp was very difficult and I am very appreciative of all the hard work and help you put towards giving me the opportunity to perform. I will never forget the memories and experiences I had making music and traveling in Italy. I plan to audition for next year and hopefully I may get to see you all again! I wish everyone the of luck in the future! Happy music making!
I would like to extend my thanks to you and Maestro Vignati for inviting me to participate in the International lyric academy 2006 Program. I learned a great deal from my time spent in Rome and am thankful for the many performance opportunities that you gave me.
The program was inspiring, and I especially enjoyed attending so many concerts and operas during my four weeks there.
Performing the role of Pamina was a good learning experience. Maestro Perez Gomez, Maestro Leon and
Maestro Kelly were all very supportive and helped me to create the strongest character, both musically and dramatically, that I could. Likewise, Gordon Ostrowski’s suggestions on character analysis and his masterclass on 18th century movement provided helpful tools that I will continue to use. I also learned a few new tricks through my lessons with Cecilia Valdenassi and Maestro de Rosa, particularly with regards to the Italian style and diction. And the orchestra for Die Zauberflote was wonderful! It felt very special to collaborate with such artistic and sensitive players.
On a final note, I would also like to say how much I appreciated Veronica’s kindness. She was always friendly and patient whenever I asked her questions (which was often), and seeing her smiling face as I walked into rehearsal each day was uplifting. She is a gem!
Thank you again and best of luck in preparing for next
My name is Daniel Seabolt. I spent the last summer participating in the International Lyric Academy of Rome (ILAR). This was my first opera and my first major singing event. I was able to work with many faculty members and participate in four master classes. As a seventeen year old I was amazed by the talent that both maestros and students possessed. It was an experience that I am hoping to relive in the summer of 2007. Thank you to Claudio for allowing me to join such a wonderful program for singers!
To the entire ILAR staff:
Allora…first and foremost, I must state how much this program has changed me as a person, a musician, and a performer. A big “Grazie!” to everyone who was a part of such a remarkable month! ILAR went above and beyond anything I had originally expected and my time there along with the lessons, rehearsals, coachings and master classes will all be treasured forever. I look at my pictures weekly and reflect on the memories you helped to create. Maestro Vignati, Maestro Perez Gomez, Claudio, and Tim…thank you for your eagerness to help and be connected musically and personally with each performer. I cannot reiterate how influential everyone has been! All of you definitely hold a special place in my heart and I will never forget my summer in Rome
Thank you, again!
Musically and affectionately,
We are Kelly and Diana Combs,
parents of Sarah Elizabeth Combs, a participant in last summer’s International Lyric Academy and the New Operafestival di Roma. Our daughter, Sarah, was one of the younger performers in the group of extremely talented professionals and students, and we naturally had concerns for her experience.
In fact, Sarah had a tremendous experience, training with some of the finest vocal coaches and musicians anywhere. The unique learning environment – in a part of Rome near the Coliseum – was not only safe, but especially conducive to developing skills in opera. The faculty and participants all encouraged each other and looked after one-another. We are certain that lifelong friendships were made that summer.
As parents, and visitors during performances, we were warmly received. We had a delightful stay at the Marianum, and the ILAR staff was especially kind and respectful toward us. We were able to meet and interact with most of the performers and ILAR faculty. Everyone we encountered seemed to love what they were doing. Both the student performers and the members of the faculty were serious about their art and their investment in this training, yet they remained real, caring people. It was truly a pleasure to get to know them all, and to know that Sarah had the chance to be involved with such a fine group of high quality individuals.
Sarah learned many things last summer. Obviously, she learned a tremendous amount musically from the coaching of a very talented staff. Sarah also, through the training regimen, learned a lot about preparedness and accountability to the group. She performed a difficult role in The Magic Flute, which has given her an incredible boost. (both in her own confidence and, practically speaking, for her resume!) She gained a measure of independence as well, surviving on her own a long way from home, which will serve her well in the future. Finally, we believe Sarah was blessed with an opportunity to taste a bit of what a future in opera – maybe her own future – might one day look like. Thank you to Claudio and Stefano and all the staff at ILAR for making Sarah’s, and our, experience in Rome one we will never forget.
Kelly and Diana Combs
Dear Maestro Stefano, Dear Claudio,
I must say it was a very hot summer in Roma 2003! I actually think it was the hottest summer I have ever experienced in Europe Despite the heat, I am a big fan of Italy… always have been. Now I complain about the cold weather here in New York City and I miss this summer already.
I was very excited to be working with the New Opera Festival di Roma (ILAR Program) as Pamina in Il Flauto Magico. Not only did I have the chance to live in one of my favorite countries, but for me it was a chance to really see what ‘I was made of’. I really did not know what was required of a singer until I came to your program. Of course I knew about discipline and practice, but I am talking about endurance. What a great learning experience for me to work all day everyday as a singer and to condition my voice and body professionally. I learned quite a lot about me and what was needed as far as pacing my body during rehearsals and performances.
I also feel fortunate to have worked with both you Maestro Stefano and Maestro Waldman as conductors. I felt everyone was very supportive from the members of the faculty, the orchestra and yes, even the audience! Thank you Claudio and Stefano for always being so positive and full of energy even when it was ‘hot as hell’ and very busy at times. In the end, I felt the environment as a whole portrayed ‘opera in the real world’, and that is an important tool that I took with me. I wish your program many more years of success and I also hope to be a part it again.
Dearest ILAR Faculty!
I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks for a splendid summer in Rome.
I can’t possibly begin to express how ILAR has chaned my life! First of all, just the opportunity to sing Violetta and First Lady (my first complete and staged roles performed!) under such excellent instruction and direction, and in a challenging, professional atmosphere, was worth the trip. Also, Rome is so beautful (even in that tremendous heatwave!), and it was of inestimable value to me to experience the modern, and ancient Roman culture. And, my Italian language skills were challenged and improved immensely.
In particular, singing Violetta in front of Italians who really KNOW every note, every word of this repertoire, was scary, but ultimately deeply rewarding, because under the baton of Maestro Vignati, and the tutelage of Maestro Rufini and Maestra Waldman, I managed to be well-prepared and confident, and I pulled it off!
Staging Magic Flute outside in a heatwave in a basilca courtyard was certainly a challenge, especialy for me, never having sung a staged role before. We all encountered many challenges together (for example, a tenor, whos name I refrain from mentioning, accidently shot me in the nose with Tamino’s stage bow and arrow. Bullseye! It was terribly shocking, and terribly funny!). But ever diffculty was surmounted professionally, with the end result being a more professional and exceptional production. Thanks again for your patience with my inexperience. You helped me grow and learn by leaps and bounds.
The concerts that we did were just lovely, in the evening light, in the charming basilica, with that beautiful piano! And I had the experience of trying out some new and difficult repertoire in front of a knowledgeable, grateful and supportive audience of friends and Romans.
As some of you know, I decided to say in Rome, continue my studies with Maestro Cesare Rufini, and to try to make a go of it here in Europe. From word one, every faculty member bent over backwards to assist me in this endeavor, and I will forever be indebted to you all. Almost immediatley, I was presented with numerous housing and job opportunities. And you contnue you to help me, even now, by staying in touch, advising me, offering me audition opprtunities (more than I can even keep up with!), and by just beng fabulous friends.
In particular, I would like to thank Maestro Vignati for your truly inspirational direction and musical advice. I hope with all of my heart that we will continue to work together.
My dearest Maestro Rufini, you have taken my voice to levels I never even imagined possible. And your continuous efforts to present me to agents and directors is deeply appreciated. If I can’t do it with you, it simply can’t be done. Basta!
And Mara Waldman: what a splendid musican and lady! A pianist, a singer, a tremendous pedagogue, and also a rofessional conductor: she’s got it all. My coachings with Mara were of the highest level and I look forward to working with her again this December in NYC, and hopefully next summer at ILAR.
The masterclasses presented by Michael Paul, Janet Perry and Alexander Malta were all a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I thank them as well for their helpful and valuable teaching and advice.
Tamara, from Manhattan School, and my neighbor at the Marianum: thank you for your friendship, your wildly entertaining conversation, and all of your vocal\musical\diction direction. You ROCK.
Tim Leon, who stage directed, taught, and did a thousand other things (not to mention being my frst Alfredo!), is such a special, generous and talented person. Thank you, Tim!!
And then there’s Claudio, who is always everywhere at once, making everyone happy, and making it all happen. You are fabulous, my friend. You and your advice, your connections, your limitless energy and dedication, your sunny smile, are pricelss.
Thanks also to Fabio and Tim, two fabulous pianist who were always ready to grab a practice room and run through any repertoire that I threw at them!
Also, the patient and accomodating staff of the Marianum are much appreciaed by me. I lost my key almost every other day, and they just smiled and put up with me. Bess them!
As I look back on this summer that has changed my life forever, and as I look forward to all these audition and singing opportunities that are coming up in Rome, elsewhere in Italy, in Germany, Switzerland, and in Austria, my heart is full of joy and hope, and of gratitude for ILAR, because none of this would have happened, had I not spent my rent money (!!) to come to NYC last January to audition for ILAR! My landlord isn’t happy, but I certainly am!!
Vi voglio un grand bene!
“I worked as a vocal/opera role coach in summer 2003 at ILAR. I found the program to be of exceptional quality, providing singers with numerous oppportunities to perform both in opera performance and in concert (art songs and opera arias). The program was action-packed and highly structured, but not negatively so. In addition to the numerous scheduled rehearsals, singers were provided with voice lessons, coachings, master classes and language/diction classes on a regular basis. There were four operas performed in total; two with orchestra and two with piano. In all, the singers performed competently and in some cases, gave absolutely stellar performances. The program was well-publicized to the Roman community, and audiences were packed in for every performance evening.
But more than the above, what I observed in the program as a faculty member was the sense of ease and fun with which singers approached the whole experience, while also working hard to improve professionally. The singers ranged in age from the very young (14) to older singers in their late 30s. However, I hardly noticed this age gap. Everyone for the most part worked so well together, and also had much fun together in various social environments; this also came through in performances. I saw many at the student level make significant progress from the first to the last week of the program. Those who were more at professional performance level also experienced significant breakthroughs and/or improved their professional standing. Some singers also were signed by Italian opera house agents after their performances.
Finally, I would like to say that the directors of this program, Claudio Ferri and Stefano Vignati and all the Staff are very kind people— competent and supportive of both singers and faculty. They worked very hard to ensure that everyone was satisfied and getting what they were promised from the summer experience. They held regular meetings to get feedback from singers. In addition, I found other faculty members to be of very high quality; professionals who were knowledgeable and genuinely interested in singers and their professional development.
I would recommend highly the ILAR program to any American singer who is looking to attend a summer program abroad that provides personal attention, professional quality-experience in a fun and relaxing –not to mention beautiful — milieu.
Tamara Cashour (Faculty of Manhattan School of Music)
Dear M° Stefano Vignati e Claudio Ferri,
In the last two days, the temperature here in New York has suddenly dropped. All of a sudden it’s autumn, but I am still feeling those hot July days in Italy. I wanted to write you both a note to tell you how much the experience is still with me. ILAR 2003 was my first summer training experience, and the First Spirit in the Magic Flute was my first role onstage in opera performance. In comparing experiences with my friends who all went to different programs this past summer, I feel deeply grateful to the both of you for providing a positive, intense environment that allowed me to grow and learn. The opportunity to work with an orchestra, under a conductor’s baton, with beautiful costumes, onstage, was invaluable to me, as a young student.
Thank you for working tirelessly to provide all of this. I have wonderful memories of the beautiful nights when music floated up out of the darkened courtyard of the Basilica di San Clemente, for everyone to hear — whether they were seated in the audience, stopping at the door, or passing by outside.
Dear Mo. Stefano Vignati e Claudio Ferri,
Not a day goes by where something I see, smell or hear reminds me of the summer I have spent at the ILAR Program New Opera Festival di Roma. The experience was unparalleled to anything I had ever embarked on before, and I find myself telling everyone I meet about you and this hidden jewel at the Basilica di San Clemente
Your personal commitment and passion are inspiring – as a busy participant in the festival, I found myself working in a safe, comfortable, happy environment where the common goals of outstanding performances and quality musicianship are pursued in lessons, coachings, stagings, concerts and festival performances. Singers flourished under the warmth of the sun and basked in the glow of glorious accompaniments by both pianists and the orchestra.
I cannot thank you enough for those five weeks. The confidence and experience I left with has enabled me to present myself as a polished artists. I have already been engaged for two professional jobs since my return, one of them a reprise of a role done in Italy!
If ever a saying was true, one gets out of the program what one puts into it.
My greatest hope is that you find yourselves thinking fondly of this past summer and the “ragazzi” as well.
I threw three coins in the Trevi Fountain before leaving; one for health, one for my return to Rome, and one as thanks for the opportunities at the ILAR Program, New Opera Festival di Roma.
Mille Grazie, mi amici.
Anne Elizabeth Bishop (Musetta, First Lady, Annina; ILAR Program, New Opera Festival di Roma 2003)
Dear Maestro Vignati and Claudio Ferri ,
I would like to take a moment to thank you both for a wonderful experience this summer! I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sing both Germont and Papageno with you and was inspired each night by the magnificent orchestra and historic venue. Moreover, I am grateful for your personal dedication and commitment to making New Operafestival di Roma and ILAR an outstanding opportunity for young artists to explore their musicality and stagecraft in a nurturing yet challenging environment. Rarely have I seen two men work harder and I appreciate your professional integrity and love of our art form. I also applaud the outstanding faculty assembled for us and feel privileged to have witnessed such personal and artistic growth among so many of the Festival participants during masterclasses, concerts, and productions. The opportunities the Festival provide are vital to any musician pursuing a career in opera and especially those of us Americans that want to venture onto European stages.
Having already performed mainstage roles and participated in several Apprenticeship programs here in the US, I found my experience in Roma to be precisely the opportunity I was seeking to help bridge the gap from student to young professional. Whereas ILAR provides many of the same benefits that American apprenticeships provide, the additional bonus of speaking Italian everyday, experiencing the historic locations of many opera settings (Castel Sant’Angelo!), and, most of all, gaining the experience of singing Italian and German for native (and opera savvy) speakers is unparalleled here in the States. It is simply an added bonus that you have so much fun doing it.
Under your capable guidance, I am certain that New Operafestival di Roma is well on its way to being the premiere summer festival in Roma and I wish you both continued success.
I look forward to seeing you both again very soon.
Dear Maestro Stefano, Dear Claudio:
I would like to thank both of you most sincerely for an outstanding musical experience at the New Operafestival di Roma 2003. From the first rehearsal to the last performance, you made me feel supported yet challenged, and kept pushing me to live up to your high musical standards.
On one hand, Maestro Vignati lead the amply scheduled Magic Flute rehearsals with untiring energy, patience, musical insight and plenty of humor, giving me time to develop a dramatic characterization based upon his musical vision. During the performances with the exceptional orchestra of the New Operafestival, he relentlessly inspired me to give my best, setting the example himself at the podium.
On the other hand, the concert performances of La Traviata, Tosca and La Bohème taught everyone the importance of musical and dramatic preparation and the ability to think on their feet, as rehearsal times were extremely short. Especially La Traviata became a prime example of professionalism, and of cooperation between the conductor, the orchestra and the singers. The love for the music and the understanding of the drama was evident in the way the orchestra shaped the phrases under the baton of Maestro Vignati and carried the first rate singers along. Thank you, Stefano, for your confidence in my abilities and your inspiration.
As to organizational aspects, my most heartfelt thanks to you, Claudio, for being so generous in spirit, support and efforts. Your constant concern for the smooth running of the Festival as well as for the personal well-being of everyone involved cannot be stressed enough.
In short, I could not have imagined a more rewarding, professional and mutually respectful environment in which to perform my first roles as a tenor, and I look forward to many more collaborative moments.
Dear Maestro Vignati:
I am writing to thank you for the great pleasure I have had working with you in the International Academy of Rome. It has been a fulfilling experience, both professionally and personally, to be a member of the faculty for the past five summers. During these years I have seen the academy grow into a first class learning program, unequalled in the world. The range of singers from high school to professional has been consistently impressive, and the overall level of artistry seems to have reached new heights in the past two years. Providing an opportunity to sing a fully staged opera with orchestra at a professional level, for the sophisticated “Roman” public!, is a unique and important performance experience for a singer at any level. The historic cortile of San Clemente is a magnificent venue and the location in the heart of Rome is inspirational.
As a voice teacher I have found the work with the students to be most rewarding and my own students who have attended have responded with great enthusiasm to the program. In addition I have met some wonderful colleagues and made life-long friendships as a result. Your influence on the preparation and realization of the operas has been invaluable and your presence as colleague has enriched my life.
I look forward to returning to work with you each summer and encourage as many singers as possible to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to spend a month singing in Roma!
With warmest regards, your friend and colleague,
Mara Waldman September 12, 2003
Dear M° Stefano Vignati and Claudio:
I can’t believe that a month ago I was in Rome and we were performing Il Flauto Magico and I was preparing for my La Traviata with the orchestra. I cannot thank you enough for such a marvelous summer. It was truly a life-changing experience for me. If I could transport myself back there and live it again, I would. It was the most delicious July.
Thank you both for your tireless hard work. I have told so many people since I’ve been back in New York about New Operafestival di Roma, about the two of you and what a fantastic experience I had in Rome. I have never seen two people work as hard is you did and never loose a temper or appear done in. You both were marvelous and everything ran so very smoothly. It was a truly beautiful, musical, magical festival and worth every penny.
I am really looking forward to seeing you when you come to New York and singing for you again. The 2004 season looks wonderful and I would love to come back the New Operafestival di Roma.
I hope this finds you well, happy and on the way to being rested and refreshed.
With great affection,
Singing Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute this summer was a wonderful experience. Maestro Stefano Vignati had a great sensibiltiy for music and expression and he made the singer feel very comfortable and confident. The master classes were very informative and we all learned from the other singers something new about ourselves. The rehearsal period allowed each singer to develop and build their craft and the musical staff was always available to work repertoire for the production as well as other repertoire.
There was a great vocal staff that knew very much about techinique and what roles each singer should learn and study. We were also fortunate to attend the other concerts and outside cultural events in Rome which also was a fantastic learning experience. The ILAR program is for all singers at every level of their career.
Anna Raffaelli– Lyric Soprano (Pamina/The Magic Flute 2003)
I had a wonderful experience as a student of the Lyric Academy at the 2002 New Opera Festival in Rome. I attended the festival as a accompanist/student conductor, and greatly enjoyed working with the high calibre of singers that had been selected for the festival. The festival organisers were able to provide a very friendly working environment whilst at the same time encouraging professional-standard performances from the participants. I learned a great deal about Italian operatic performing traditions from assisting the musical director/conductor Maestro Vignati and the other Italian musicians. All the visiting students were shown generous hospitality by the local musicians and festival staff, and this made the festival a very enriching overall experience. I would recommend the festival to both singers and opera coaches/student conductors as an educational experience and as a way of making valuable contacts in the European and American opera fields.
It was an exceptional experience working with ILAR last summer of 2001. It gave me the possiblility to express my talents to the fullest. I received critical claim in the newspapers in Italy which was thrilling. Thank you for accepting me.
Bye bye ,
Hello Everyone…. I sang with the ILAR Program two years in a row and I’d like to return also this year for the role of the Conte in Le Nozze di Figaro. It’s possible I won’t get accepted because after participating for 2 years I’ll be forfeiting my turn to another young student. I hope I’ll be able to return to Rome, but I kow the applicants are many. I’d like to say that I had a wonderful experience both years and enjoyed working with such a professional organization. Whenever there was a problem someone was always there for me. As a student I found myself in a situation that I couldn’t believe possible. Working with a professional orchestra and the famed professors and conductors was incredible. I had the honor of singing with italian and french singers who are already well into their careers. I sang with the magnificent soprano, MariaAngela Spotorno, who has sang many times with Placido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli! I studied with Giuseppe Taddei, Fedora Barbieri, Janet Perry and Alice Baker . I would love the opportunity to do so again in 2002. If I’m not accepted I wonder if I could at least be part of the audience and be able to take singing lessons and join the auditions. For me it was an unforgettable learning experience.
I highly recommend this summer program. Although it is costly, you get great accommodations, italian food , and talent. Plus the staff is awesome! Some of the best coaching and Master Class I’ve ever received! I was a principal in the summer of 2001 and it was a terrific time. Please do not hesitate to check it out. Original costumes and scenery, full, professional orchestra and great crowds, too – up to 300 people a performance. In addition, the audience actually knows about opera! Go for it – at any age!!!
The ILAR PROGRAM is not a Work Shop, but a professional situation where talented students and gratuates have the rare opportunity to participate in the costruction and final production of a grand opera. Certainly the complaints that one may have can only be explained by my own experience that in which student or students were not initially prepared. In the contract it is clear to make a point that the opera in question be studied and memorized! In other training Program they may have been sent home because it puts the entire production in difficulty. Thanks to the patient members of the Festival and extra hours of couching and individual help these students were, in the end, able to participate in the final production. I don’t want to mention names. Most importantly, is that one understands that to accept and take part in this program one must know that it is HARD WORK. The course is difficult and demanding. You will be working daily with world renown teachers and have the possibility to sing with a professional orchestra and a most interesting and talented conductors. My contract stated that I was to do only one parformance, but in the end I sang three. If you are good this is a great opportunity for your career and you may also receive a scolarship. You will have the experience of performing for a great audience in the centre of Rome with many journalists by RAI who come specifically to hear and see new young talent. Unfortunately, my first year in Rome I too had a bad experience with another program. They were not serious and not nearly as professional. For myself I am very happy with the New Operafestival di Roma and it has been a great help for my career. I now work with an Italian agent who comes to see all my performances and concerts.
I greatly enjoyed partcipating in the New Opera Festival di Roma 2001 because it gave me the opportunity to perform a role on stage in a beautiful setting with a professional orchestra. I also performed in recitals with other singers of all levels, and attended Master Classes which were particularly enjoyable and helpful.