Elon opera students take the stage in Florence

Follow along with these students on social media as they perform solos and ensembles during three public opera concerts in locations around the capital of Italy’s Tuscan region.

This is part of a series of articles highlighting Elon students as they gain experience participating in study abroad, internships and undergraduate research during the summer. Stay tuned for more posts featuring the experiences of Elon students in their own words. 

Elon students participating in the Summer Opera Workshop took part in three professional operas as well as other public performances. 

​There’s no better place to study opera than its birthplace — Florence, Italy.

This summer, Elon students are taking advantage of the amazing faculty and resources in the capital city of Italy’s Tuscan region through a program that couples training with a series of public performances set against iconic Italian venues.

The Summer Opera Workshop is offered in partnership with Accademia Europea di Firenze (AEF) with Elon’s Polly Cornelius, senior lecturer in music, leading the program along with faculty from AEF.

Cornelius explains that the program is “intense and comprehensive,” with the students participating in the ensemble of three professional operas with St. Mark’s Opera, singing alongside professional Italian singers. They are also performing solos and ensembles at three public concerts in locations around Florence.

Among those performing are Andy Edelman ’22, Julia Towner ’21 and Ana Segal ’21, all of whom will be offering guest posts on the university’s InstagramTwitter and Facebook accounts during the coming days.

​Edelman says the classical vocal training he’s receiving in Florence through the program is crucial to maintaining a healthy voice. “Working with renowned Soprano Susanna Ragacci and Maestro Cristiano Manzoni has been a dream come true, and within the very first week of this month-long program my voice completely transformed for the better,” Edelman says. “Nothing seems to compare to the vocal training here in Florence. It’s been a gift to work with the best of the best in the industry.”

Towner points to the connections she and her fellow students were able to make with professional singers during the three performances with St. Mark’s Opera that included two productions of “La Traviata” and one of La Bohème.”

“We were on stage with professional opera singers who were so kind and grateful to us for being there,” Towner says. “It was an experience that I will never forget. The professional singers were incredibly talented and the fact that I got to sing alongside them is unbelievable to me.”

Beyond the performances, students are receiving weekly voice lessons and coaching sessions, with Cornelius conducting an opera workshop class each day that includes work on music and staging. Additionally, the students are studying Italian.

The group will conclude the program later this month with a performance at the Jazz-It festival in Pompeii.

“I love studying music and its impact on communities all over the world,” Segal says. “This program is invaluable to me, as it continues to broaden my understanding of opera as a prominent art form in Florence, and continually pushes me out of my comfort zone.”

Along with looking to the university’s social media accounts for guest posts by Edelman, Towner and Segal, you can find updates about the program on the Elon Music Department Facebook page. Follow along with a variety of global experiences Elon students participate throughout the year by exploring the #elonglobal hashtag or following the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Throughout the summer, Elon’s social media accounts and E-net will be featuring Elon student experiences.