We talk to Eleanor Wood, Australian soprano and Óli Rúnarsson, Icelandic tenor, who both attended the advanced and professional level week of last year’s Veneto Opera Summer School.
What are your favourite memories from the summer school?
Eleanor: Performing under the stars in the courtyard for an audience of Italians was an experience that will always stay with me. It was so thrilling to put what we had learnt into practice, and hope that our language passed the test for the Italian audience! Also, the prosecco. All the prosecco. 🙂
Óli: I have many great memories, but my favourite is probably the moment when everything that was being taught through the Melofonetica Method suddenly clicked with everything I’d previously learned. For the first day or two, I was starting to think that what I had learned before was somehow wrong, but by the end of day two it all clicked into place, and I realised that I was building on my previous knowledge.
How has attending the course helped you in your singing careers?
Eleanor: I use the skills that I learnt on the course on a daily basis in my singing. It informs the way I sing Italian, and my overall technique generally. It was also a great opportunity to meet like-minded singers and form friendships and networks that I will keep throughout my career.
Óli: It has helped me a lot both in my teaching and singing. The way the Melofonetica Method was presented was very clear. To work on my sung Italian like that for an intensive week was very helpful, it somehow got the messages into the muscle memory. I’m now applying the method to my old repertoire and it’s remarkable how everything sounds better and is easier to sing and perform. I have also used the same approach successfully in other languages and it works even in Icelandic too!
What advice would you give others who are considering applying for the summer school?
Eleanor: Don’t hesitate. Matteo, Jamila and the team have put so much thought into crafting an experience that is musically and artistically enriching, but also one that gives a great insight into Italian culture. This was made all the better by Matteo’s insider knowledge of Bassano, including where to get the best gelato!
Óli: Go for it, this was hands down worth every single penny. You can only benefit from this course, it should be mandatory for all young professionals who are seriously thinking of going into the profession. I even think my career would have been different if this course had been on offer 15 years ago!
What are your current singing projects and what’s on the horizon?
Eleanor: I’m currently singing as part of the chorus in Thaïs at Cadogan Hall, and have several concerts around London coming up over the summer.
Óli: At the moment, as well as my teaching work, I’m rehearsing a new opera called Brothers by Daniel Bjarnason and have just finished conducting my two choirs in five concerts. Next winter, La traviata is my biggest project, alongside a series of Christmas concerts and working as a conductor and vocal coach on a production of the musical Man from La Mancha.