Belle Arti at 108-10 72nd Avenue became Forest Hills’ only boutique-like music school of European heritage, and has since become a destination that continues to expand.
With a goal of assisting the next generation of young singers to prepare for a professional career in the vocal arts consisting of opera, oratorio, art song and musical theater, the intensive program will be offered every August for a one to two-week period. This is accomplished by refining the fundamentals of singing, inclusive of vocal technique, musical style, lyric diction, and the art of performing.
The new intensive program is offered every August for a one- to two-week period. Shortly after the program was founded in August 2015, seven singers from France, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, the Dominican Republic, New York, and Philadelphia participated, and it proved to be a rewarding experience, topped off with a recital at Manhattan’s Steinway & Sons Recital Hall.
The performers received private coaching with well-accomplished faculty members who focus on personal vocal goals.
“Cultivating a lasting appreciation for the arts within Forest Hills has always been a part of our mission,” said Claudette Munné, co-artistic director of Belle Arti. “By introducing Canto de las Americas, we can bring the most distinguished, respected, and accomplished professional musicians to our community.”
Ever since Munné and co-artistic director Massimiliano Facchini established Belle Arti, and Verónica Villarroel, head coach for the Canto de las Americas program, founded the Academia Verónica Villarroel school in Chile, they were determined to collaborate.
“Establishing roots in New York is our short-term goal, whereas a long-term goal is to bring this program worldwide to cities in Italy, Chile and the Dominican Republic, among others,” said Munné.
Villarroel, one of the most prominent sopranos of the era and who is known as the “The Accidental Diva,” instructs student in the program. She has performed in opera houses across the world with roles in “La Traviata,” “Don Giovanni” and “Carmen,” among others. The prestigious Plácido Domingo Award is among her list of accomplishments.
Another instructor is tenor Eduardo Valdés, who has been on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera since 1993, and has also performed at the Spoleto Festival USA and Boston Lyric Opera. Late Senator Edward Kennedy invited him to perform for the King and Queen of Spain at a dinner honoring the royal couple. Around America and internationally, Valdés can be found offering master classes.
Training will also be provided by conductor Lucy Arner, whose is regarded as “a true singer’s conductor.” Her experience is based in some of the world’s most noteworthy opera houses, such as the Metropolitan Opera and Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.
Students will also have an opportunity to work with Simón Saad, an opera stage director and interpretation coach who has experience in opera companies on three continents. He emphasizes the importance of acting and movement, as well as the exploration of a song’s dramatic character.
Belle Arti is open to suggestions for intimate performances within the community.
“We are continuing to seek venues to host concerts for our students, including private homes and religious institutions within Queens and nearby areas,” said Munné.