UW – Eau Claire students have the amazing opportunity to travel to Lucca, Italy (“the musical city”) with a four-week immersion program where they focus on their goals of becoming opera singers. They have daily voice lessons, weekly masterclasses, an international music faculty, opera performances, audition classes, career seminars, meet young opera singers from other schools, and so much more. Carleen Baron, a current vocal performance student, traveled to Lucca the summer of 2019 and summed up the experience by describing it as, “A month of intense immersion into the Italian language as well as Italian song and opera.” Each participant comes away with new ideas of what it means to be a performer. Sebastian Armendariz, a UW -Eau Claire grad, went on this trip in the summer of 2016 and went as far as to say, “This trip fundamentally changed the trajectory of my career.” He goes on saying, “I have yet to find or experience a program that delivers daily intensive language lessons, voice lessons, coachings, and rehearsals for the entirety of a month in Italy for this price,” and continued with other praise to the teachers and the program as a whole. Armendariz is now an operatic/classical performer and believes this immersion helped him get to where he is now. He was not the only one to speak so highly of the program and teachers. Kayla Murray, a current UW- Eau Claire student who also traveled to Lucca in 2019, said that the best part of the trip was the people, specifically one of the Italian language teachers. The program is led by an international faculty with teachers from Italy, New York, Seattle, Wichita, and of course, Eau Claire. Guest artists with major international opera careers also join during the experience to give master classes and career advice. This year marks a new chapter in the program’s life, after 15 years of being a part of Wichita State University, it is now a part of UWEC’s Department of Music and Theatre Arts, led by voice faculty member, Dr. Ken Pereira, who is the program’s new director.
Outside of the scheduled curricular learning, students have evenings and some weekends to explore Italy. Nearby Florence is a favorite, as well as the group to Verona where they see an opera with 15,000 other opera lovers in the famed Verona Arena. With the Italian lessons, the students able to enjoy conversations with locals as well as sing their arias and songs with greater authenticity. Murray says Lucca is the best place for this type of experience because there are more locals than tourists, so they are able to immerse themselves in the language and culture. Moreover, the dialect spoken in this part of Italy is the preferred pronunciation of the language for the operatic stage. Murray also noted that within the historic walls of the historic center of Lucca, time seems to stop, and everything is simple and beautiful.
Information on how to apply to InCanto Italia is on the following site. https://www.uwec.edu/academics/college-arts-sciences/departments-programs/music-theatre-arts/explore-opportunities/study-abroad-national-student-exchange/incanto-italia/
“I encourage any voice student to take advantage of this opportunity. I gained the ability to be conversationally fluent in Italian, I learned about Italian culture and music, and I made lifelong friends and mentors. You will not regret it at all.”
~Sebastian Armendariz, class of 2016
“This opportunity allowed me to open my mind to the historical profoundness of Italian opera, and to open my heart to its overwhelming influence on the art of singing itself. Every aspect of what I aim to do was touched by this experience.”
“I don’t have enough words to describe how truly wonderful this trip is. The memories and the people you meet will last you a lifetime.”