Veneto Opera Summer School: the inside view

Veneto Opera Summer School: the inside view

Veneto Opera Summer School: the inside view Melofonetica

Lucy Farrimond, mezzo soprano, shares her experiences of attending this year’s Veneto Opera Summer School and performing in Arte Lirica Festival:


I have recently returned from a two week adventure in Italy on Melofonetica’s Veneto Opera Summer School and WOW! I simply cannot believe how fast those two weeks passed by… two weeks in which, I can honestly say, I had the time of my life and made memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. I am now a member of the very special Melofonetica family.


Application process

I set myself the goal of expanding my solo singing experience and developing my sung Italian. So, after having seen the summer programme advertised online almost a year ago, I hastily sent off my application, including a recording of an Italian aria. I was absolutely thrilled to receive the news that I had not only been accepted onto the course, but had also been offered the principal role of Pisandro in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria.



In preparation for my trip to Italy, I researched the life and music of Claudio Monteverdi and set about learning my role. This was my first staged trouser role, so I was very excited! Alongside the Monteverdi, I prepared chorus roles for scenes from Puccini’s La bohème, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and additional choruses ‘Brindisi’ and ‘Va Pensiero’ from Verdi’s La Traviata and Nabucco. In addition to these roles, I prepared a solo aria of my choice; this was ‘O Del Mio Amato Ben’ by Stefano Donaudy.


Journey to Italy: time in Venice

I had never actually been to Italy before, so I was unbelievably excited to be adventuring somewhere new – to the birthplace of opera! My flight to Venice Marco Polo was early in the morning, meaning I had a few hours of free time before the Melofonetica transfer would collect me and take me to Bassano del Grappa with the other course participants. During this time, I took the water bus into Venice and explored the city. The first stop on my list of attractions was Teatro La Fenice. What a beauty it is! I was lucky to explore the theatre and view the Maria Callas exhibition. After squeezing in as much sightseeing as possible, I made my way back to the airport to meet the other participants before taking the coach to Bassano.


Arrival to Bassano

The accommodation and classes were based at the Istituto Scalabrini in Bassano. Upon arrival at the grand institute, participants were greeted by Matteo Dalle Fratte (Melofonetica Founder) and his team in an introductory session, including celebratory welcome drinks. We were all given welcome packs, including the weekly schedule and information about Bassano and Arte Lirica Festival 2019. We were then given a tour of the Scalabrini Institute – our new home for the following two weeks. This wonderful building is situated beside the glorious River Brenta – a very idyllic setting!

An introduction to the Melofonetica Method

The first day of the course consisted of a morning introduction to the Melofonetica Method, including an insight into Matteo’s extensive research and key facts regarding Italian pronunciation. I was able to observe masterclasses with fellow course participants before singing the Donaudy repertoire in my own masterclass. During the masterclass, we were able to use the same stand that Maria Callas had once used, which – alongside the beautiful setting and views from the windows – proved to be incredibly inspiring! The Melofonetica Method was a new concept to me and I noticed a positive difference in my singing by the end of what was a very rewarding session. Matteo was extremely encouraging throughout the masterclass and was always open to questions regarding the method.


Life in Bassano del Grappa

On the first night of the course, the group ventured to Poli Grappa Museum for grappa tasting and an insight into how the signature liquor is made. This was followed by a tour of beautiful Bassano led by Matteo.

We were very fortunate to have been provided both breakfast and lunch at the Scalabrini Institute throughout the course. Once musical activities had finished for the day, we were free to venture into town (crossing the Ponte Vecchio) to have dinner – admittedly consuming far too much pizza and gelato!

On Thursdays and Saturdays, Bassano would come alive with its busy market and I managed to also fit in visits to a couple of Bassano’s treasures, the Libreria Palazzo Roberti and Museo Civico di Bassano – which had a Tito Gobbi exhibition!


Course structure

Each morning during the first week, vocalising sessions were scheduled with Matteo, in which he would also give advice on vocal health. Following the vocalising sessions, masterclasses with Matteo would run for most of the day and were open for everyone to observe. Alongside the masterclasses, we were fortunate to have individual coaching sessions with Julie Aherne and Bernard Tan and chorus rehearsals with Peter Ford.


Concert 1: Friday 16 August

The first concert took place in Chiesa di San Vito. I adored this beautiful setting and the lovely, encouraging Italian audience. During this concert, chorus members took to the stage to perform their independent arias, whilst the entire ensemble performed the Va Pensiero and Brindisi choruses with the orchestra. I was very happy to perform in the trio ‘Soave sia il vento’ from Mozart’s Così fan tutte. The concert was a great success!


Concert 2: Saturday 17 August

The second concert took place in Crespano del Grappa, this time outdoors in Piazza San Marco and on the steps of the magnificent church. I performed my Donaudy aria, Mozart trio and Verdi choruses and loved every single second! The square had an incredible acoustic and was jam-packed with eager local listeners! For me, this concert was a highlight of the two week course. It can be easy as a singer to pick a performance apart for faults, yet I was completely calm and happy to be making music in such a beautiful setting with wonderful people and a supportive audience – I will be forever grateful to Melofonetica for allowing me this unforgettable opportunity.

La bohème and Don Giovanni pop-ups: Sunday 18 and Thursday 22 August

Pop-up performances of Don Giovanni and La bohème scenes in the beautiful medieval town of Asolo were a huge success. Seeing the surprised and amazed faces of the locals as we spontaneously erupted into song was priceless!


Monteverdi lecture recital: Tuesday 20 August

Having a principal role in the Monteverdi Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria scene, I had the chance to perform my Pisandro aria and ‘Lieta Soave Gloria’ trio in a lecture-recital at the Municipio di Asolo. Performing such repertoire in this historic building was an incredible experience!


Villa Lunardi dinner

After the lecture recital at the Municipio di Asolo, we were surprised with the news that we would be dining at Villa Lunardi that evening. This beautiful villa was the summer residence of tenor Giovanni Lunardi and now contains a museum dedicated to the singer. I was very impressed to see Lunardi’s original costumes from Verdi operas and hand-written manuscripts by Pietro Mascagni! The museum was created thanks to Matteo’s research. Matteo is also the author of Giovanni Lunardi’s biography Giovanni Lunardi: un tenore drammatico fra Tamagno e Caruso.


Staged scenes at Teatro Eleonora Duse, Asolo: Friday 23 and Saturday 24 August

We are all incredibly lucky to have had the chance to perform our staged scenes ‘Vendette e amori’ at Teatro Eleonora Duse, Asolo. This inspiring theatre is based in Castello Caterina Cornaro which dates back to the 10th Century. It was astonishing to find that opera is in fact rarely performed in this theatre, which I think is a great shame!


Maurizio Muraro

Renowned bass Maurizio Muraro travelled to Asolo from London to be interviewed for the Arte Lirica Festival and to attend our staged scenes at Teatro Eleonora Duse. I am so grateful to have met such an inspiring singer and to have him support the festival!

Thank you!

I am extremely grateful to have been awarded a scholarship from Melofonetica’s Badoer Dalla Rizza fund, created by the very generous Mr and Mrs McGuire, and very kind financial donations through GoFundMe. This support allowed me to participate in a life-changing course, that has filled me with knowledge and happiness and will hopefully be beneficial for my future career in the world of opera.

There are many people I would like to thank for making the Veneto Opera Summer School and first ever Arte Lirica Festival so special. Firstly, I would like to thank Matteo and his truly lovely wife, Jamila (Academy Manager), for all of their hard work to ensure that everything ran like clockwork and that each and every one of us was correctly cared for and looked after. They deserve all of their successes and I am certain that their work will only continue to grow and inspire others. A huge thank you also goes out to the fantastic coaches; Peter Ford (Conductor), Julie Aherne (Pianist) and Bernard Tan (Pianist) for their support and dedication. It was an absolute joy to work with them and learn from them. I hope to perform with them again in the future.


To be continued:

Alas, I return to Manchester feeling enriched – albeit rather emotional – with not only a deeper knowledge and understanding of Italian opera through the Melofonetica Method, but with connections to a marvellous group of people that I am proud to call my friends. I will no doubt stay in touch with everybody from the course and I hope to have the opportunity to participate in further Melofonetica courses.


Look out for details of Veneto Opera Summer School. To pre-register your interest, please contact us here.

Launching the Badoer Dalla Rizza Scholarship Fund

Launching the Badoer Dalla Rizza Scholarship Fund

Launching the Badoer Dalla Rizza Scholarship Fund Melofonetica

We’re delighted to announce the launch of the Badoer Dalla Rizza Scholarship Fund to support early-career artists in their study of Italian opera repertoire.


Thanks to the generous support of our Founding Supporters and Patrons of Arte Lirica Festival, Mr and Mrs B. McGuire, the fund will provide scholarships that will widen access to Veneto Opera Summer School and Arte Lirica Festival, our summer study programme in Italy. The programme provides an excellent development opportunity, comprising expert Italian opera repertoire coaching and preparation for a range of performances including staged scenes at Asolo’s royal opera house. In 2019, participants performed extracts from La bohèmeDon Giovanni and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria.

In 2019, the fund provided at least one 50% scholarship for singers of each voice type, one pianist/répétiteur and each of the following instrumentalists: violinist, cellist, flautist, clarinettist and bassoonist. There will also be a limited number of smaller bursary awards made to help towards the costs of the programme for those who do not receive a scholarship.

The scholarship fund has been set up in memory of bass Paolo Badoer and his teacher, Gilda Dalla Rizza, Puccini’s favourite soprano.

Paolo Badoer was the beloved singing teacher of Melofonetica Founder Matteo Dalle Fratte, and a successful international opera singer who sang for over 40 years in major opera houses and concert halls around the world. He was the favourite pupil and close friend of Gilda Dalla Rizza, the soprano who inspired Puccini, Mascagni, Giordano, Zandonai and Toscanini.

Gilda Dalla Rizza was one of the greatest opera stars in the world during the 1920s and 1930s, she premiered roles in many operas including Magda in La rondine, and inspired Puccini to create Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, and Liù in Turandot. She received widespread acclaim as Violetta in La traviata at La Scala with Toscanini. As a talented teacher in Venice, she also coached Maria Callas.

The work that Melofonetica does today to promote excellence in sung Italian aims to preserve not only the legacy and teaching of both Paolo Badoer and Gilda Dalla Rizza, but the beauty and heritage of Italian opera as it was handed down through the generations of great performers and composers.

To find out more about Veneto Opera Summer School and Arte Lirica Festival, visit our programme webpage here. Please contact us if you’d like further details.

Melofonetica gift certificates now available!

Melofonetica gift certificates now available!

Melofonetica gift certificates now available! Melofonetica

Looking for gift inspiration this festive season or beyond? Know a singer or other music professional who’d love to focus on their skills in sung Italian?


We’re excited to launch Melofonetica gift certificates, available to any value and redeemable against any of our Italian courses or coaching. Gift certificates are valid for one year, but all certificates issued before Christmas 2018 will run until the end of December 2019.

  • Available to the value of your choice
  • Can include a personalised message
  • Can be sent electronically or by post
  • Redeemable against any of our courses or private coaching

Recipients must be aged 18 or over to book onto our courses or coaching, and must be at the required level where a level is specified in course requirements. Check out the Courses section of our website for more details.

Request your gift certificate today

Contact us to request your gift certificate or for more information – and give the gift of learning with a unique and original gift!

Bringing the text to life in the Monteverdi 450 project

Bringing the text to life in the Monteverdi 450 project

Bringing the text to life in the Monteverdi 450 project Melofonetica
Bringing the text to life in the Monteverdi 450 project Melofonetica

In his introduction to the recently released recording of Monteverdi’s ‘Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria’,  Sir John Eliot Gardiner discusses the work of Melofonetica Founder Matteo Dalle Fratte on the Italian diction in the award-winning Monteverdi 450 project.

The poignant and vivid new recording of Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria, performed by the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra and English Baroque Soloists and conducted by Gardiner, was recorded as part of last year’s Monteverdi 450 trilogy project. The acclaimed project saw Gardiner conduct a world-class cast of singers in their performances of L’OrfeoIl ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and L’incoronazione di Poppea, in locations around the world. Matteo was honoured to work closely with Gardiner as Italian Coach on the project, and as part of his introduction to the new recording, Gardiner provides fascinating insight into Matteo’s work on the text and how this enhanced expression in the three Monteverdi works:


“Our language coach, Matteo Dalle Fratte, went to great lengths to point out to the cast the mesmerising beauty of sung Italian when consonants are projected percussively and expressively in counterpoint to the smooth legato flow of the vowels. This applies not just to double consonants but to comma punctuation, agogic accents, word repetitions and exclamations. Only once the technique has been fully mastered by the singer-actors (as opposed to the dreaded ‘singerese’ – the disease of so many opera singers), can this produce a frisson in the way words will be received by the listener; but it also enhances the expressive vocabulary of Monteverdi’s word-setting and his cunning way of imitating the accents of speech. The slight anticipation of the incoming consonant and a minuscule delay before the vowel mirrors the thought processes of the narration. To me this is analogous to the ways Monteverdi uses both rhythm and counterpoint. In his operas Monteverdi habitually uses an alternation of duple and triple metre against an implied tactus (a regular unvarying beat). That is where the rhythmic frisson originates.”*

* Gardiner, John Eliot. 2018. ‘The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland’, sleeve note for Monteverdi, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, cond. by John Eliot Gardiner (Monteverdi Productions, SDG730, 2018), 6–11

It is thanks in large measure to the insights of language coach Matteo Dalle Fratte that this performance is every bit as vivid (in many respects more so) as any DVD production might be.

Europadisc review, October 2018

Reflecting on the project, Matteo comments, “It was a privilege to work with such talented artists and the inspirational Sir John Eliot Gardiner on the Monteverdi trilogy. The detail of the sung Italian was given a huge amount of importance and focus by everyone involved. My work on this project showed me just how powerful great diction in Italian opera can be, ensuring that all the emotions of the text are truly delivered with impact in a performance space – and fulfilling Monteverdi’s own vision that opera should stir the emotions.”

Bringing the text to life in the Monteverdi 450 project Melofonetica

We highly recommend listening to the new recording of Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria to enjoy both the excellent sung Italian and an opera that, despite being composed almost four centuries ago, remains musically and dramatically so powerful today. Visit the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras website to find out more.

Image above: the final bow and live recording at one of the ‘Il ritorno di Ulisse’ performances at the National Forum of Music in Wrocław, Poland, September 2017.

Feeling inspired?

We have opportunities for singers, pianists and instrumentalists to join us in Italy next summer to be coached by Matteo Dalle Fratte and perform in scenes from Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria at our inaugural Arte Lirica Festival in Asolo. Find out more here.

A standing ovation at Chiesa San Vito, Bassano

On Sunday 19 August, singers on the second week of our Veneto Opera Summer School gave a wonderful final concert to a packed Italian audience at Bassano’s historic Chiesa San Vito.

The evening was presented by Matteo Dalle Fratte, Melofonetica’s Founder, who gave insight into each singer’s background and the pieces performed, including arias by Handel, Mozart, Donizetti and Verdi.

Excitement started to build early with audience members arriving up to an hour before the concert to get the best seats. Throughout the evening the audience was warm and engaged, giving resounding applause after each aria performed. It was clear that they not only understood the lyrics but they were also moved by the emotions expressed in each piece, a true test of clear and expressive sung Italian!

Verdi’s Va pensiero provided a rousing finale and ended with a standing ovation – testament to the hard work put in by all singers and coaches during an intensive week of coaching in sung Italian diction, expression and musicality.

At the post-concert celebratory dinner in the historic centre of Bassano, soprano Amie described the experience, “It was so beautiful that the audience were so uplifted, even though I was nervous, when I was walking on stage they were all smiling at me and that put me at ease – I really enjoyed it!”

Fellow soprano Bouchra also commented, “I wouldn’t have imagined such a reaction from the audience when I sang, it was marvellous!”

Graham, baritone, added, “The experience here in such a beautiful town at the foot of the mountains, and in such a beautiful church with such an appreciative audience, it’s tingling!”

Well done to all the singers, conductor and music coach Peter Ford, and music coaches and pianists Julie Aherne and Bernard Tan.

A glittering evening at Asolo’s royal opera house

On Saturday 11 August 2018, participants on the advanced and professional level week of Veneto Opera Summer School gave their final performance at Asolo’s historic royal opera house, the Teatro Eleonora Duse – inside the castle that once belonged to Queen Caterina Cornaro.

Serata lirica al Castello was the culmination of a week of Italian opera coaching for our group of international singers and pianists from countries including Canada, China, Ireland, Malta, Sweden and the UK. They performed a magical selection of Italian arias and ensembles for an Italian audience, including pieces by Mozart, Gluck, Handel, Puccini and Donizetti, and a moving performance of Verdi’s Va pensiero as a finale.

Asolo’s Head of Culture took to the stage at the end of the evening to thank the performers, highlighting the clarity of the singers’ Italian diction in particular. One member of the audience commented, “Even though it was a very warm evening, I didn’t need anything to keep me cool as I had goosebumps throughout the concert!”

The evening was presented by Melofonetica Founder, Matteo Dalle Fratte, who gave background and context to the pieces performed and explained the preparation that the performers had undertaken to perfect their skills in sung Italian diction.

Shortly after the finale, one of the singers described the experience: “It went really well, the crowd was amazing, they were very appreciative, they seemed to really enjoy being here and listening to the music and that brought a lot of energy for all of us, so we had a lot of fun.”

Well done to all the performers, conductor and music coach Peter Ford, and music coaches Julie Aherne and Bernard Tan.

Italian workshop on Mascagni’s Easter Hymn

On 7 April 2018, 25 singers joined us for a fun and inspiring day at the beautiful St. Marylebone Parish Church in central London. The day included language and music coaching from Matteo Dalle Fratte, Peter Ford and Julie Aherne, and concluded with a final informal performance. We were delighted to be joined also by Lynsey Docherty, soprano, who sang the role of Santuzza.
Feedback from participants included “it was a really special and informative day” and “a totally immersing and exhilarating experience – I learned so much in such a short time!”

Watch the highlights video

Coaching masterclass at RNCM

We were delighted to meet so many vocal students and staff at our recent coaching masterclass at the RNCM in Manchester. With over 30 observers in the room, Matteo Dalle Fratte gave a presentation on the background to the method before working directly with 7 singers and 4 pianists on a wide range of Italian repertoire. Singers’ comments included “I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass and have learnt a lot of new and interesting techniques and ideas” and “I really enjoyed this and would love to do it again – it’s given me confidence in singing in Italian”.

Monteverdi trilogy named number one classical show

The Monteverdi 450 Trilogy by Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra has been named the best classical show of the year by The Guardian’s Andrew Clements. Matteo Dalle Fratte worked alongside Sir John Eliot Gardiner as Italian Coach on the production, receiving praise from the critics for his work on the diction with both Italian and non-Italian singers. Andrew Clements comments in his article: “Musically it was an enthralling experience… the texts were projected to make every phrase intelligible.”

Battle Of The Arias at The Royal Opera House

What’s the greatest aria ever written? Conductor Paul Wingfield, director Hazel Gould and Italian Coach Matteo Dalle Fratte presented their favourite piece of operatic music before the audience voted for the winner. Up against strong competition, we’re delighted that Matteo’s choice of Senza mamma from Puccini’s Suor Angelica was voted the top choice on the evening!