YAACompany Alum and students in the Bel Canto program pose for a photo.

YAACompany Alum and students in the Bel Canto program pose for a photo.

Over the last three weeks, seven YAACompany alumni have been studying the art of Bel Canto from the source...in Italy! They have been living and studying in Greve-in-Chianti, Tuscany, just an hour outside of Florence. YAA Producing Artistic Director, and professional tenor, Rolando Sanz leads the Young Artist program. Also on faculty was Peabody Conservatory professor, Dr. Patrick O'Donnell, who also works as a vocal coach for Washington National Opera, as well as Dr. Rebecca Folsom of Boston Conservatory. The students also worked closely with leading operatic artists such as Elizabeth Bishop, Giovanni Reggioli, and Will Crutchfield.

We sat down with YAA alumna, Rachel Hahn, currently a senior at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, to learn more about her experience.

1.) What have you all been working on in Italy these past few weeks?

We've been working on an abridged version of Mozart's Le Nozze di Fiagro in which I was assigned "Sull'aria", "Porgi amor" and "Dove sono," all as the Countess. I was also assigned a scene from Bellini's I Capuletti e I Montecchi singing the role of Romeo which was a lot of fun to play a boy! And then we were also each assigned an aria study piece, something to work on privately that we could sing in the future. For that, I was given "Qui la voce sua soave" from I puritani also by Bellini.

 A view from Rachel's room.

A view from Rachel's room.

2.) Have you traveled to Italy before?

Yes! This has been my third time to Italy, and my second time to this program in particular. I got to travel to to Venice and Rome on the weekends during this program! I have also traveled to Prague and Ireland and Italy in the past with my high school choirs.

3.) How have you enjoyed the program?

I am very glad I came to Bel Canto in Tuscany! It's a really wonderful opportunity to travel but also to learn and grow as an artist. The faculty is top-notch and all are so connected to the "business" which is really exciting. It's great to really be able to focus on a couple of scenes and arias and work out all the details with the faculty. You don't have that luxury of time to work on a select list of repetoire in college, and this program has afforded me that. It's also a wonderful way to work on your language skills which are so important as an opera singer. What better way to learn than to be immersed in it!? This program is also a great opportunity to make new friends who will hopefully become colleagues one day.

 A rainbow forms over the Tuscan hills - a view from the group's villa.

A rainbow forms over the Tuscan hills - a view from the group's villa.

4.) What have you taken away from this experience abroad?

This program has given me lots of self confidence and experience singing and learning with others which is priceless to me.

5.) How did your studies at YAA back at home help prepare you for this special opportunity? 

YAA has been helpful in making me a professional musician. They taught me how to learn music quickly and how to handle myself both on and off stage and in the rehearsal room.