A Soprano's Italian Adventure
It is a rare thing to find a group of such supportive and inspiring professionals, who manage, in only a few days, to share their own passion, skill and knowledge with so much energy, generosity and genuine care. Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to work with Theresa Goble and the Vox Integra team on several occasions and each time, the experience has significantly contributed to my development as both singer and performer. I have always returned home with a renewed sense of motivation, positivity and personal understanding, but also with several new allies. The connections I have made with fellow singers, directors, teachers and coaches from all corners of Europe and beyond is proof that Vox Integra is a truly magnetic company.
There is always a positive and encouraging dynamic within each group: a real testament to the team and its core values. All are at different stages and with different goals, developing into a tight knit community in the space of only a few days; all treated to the same tailored care and attention. This collective of world class practitioners are sincerely invested in each individual’s progression, passionate about every member’s development and, perhaps just as importantly, their actual enjoyment of the process in which we are all sharing.
My most recent Vox venture was a particularly special one: in one of the most beautiful regions of Southern Italy, Mola Di Bari, we gathered to work on Italian repertoire and pronunciation with the wonderful visiting tutor, Matteo Della Fratte, as well as the fabulous core team: Theresa Goble, Mike Pugh and Beverly Warboys. Matteo’s enthusiasm was totally infectious and his clear expertise, which manifests itself in the Melofonetica Method, was communicated so efficiently that it was easy for all to embrace and consistently reinforced by all members of the team over the weekend. Through several masterclasses, directed by both Matteo and Mike, we were allowed to explore this further within our own pieces, enabling us to notice the finer details of the method in context (#Michaelangeloeffect) and helping us to sound increasingly Italian in our pronunciation! This worked beautifully with Mike’s coaching, which really brought the pieces to life, giving a fully rounded support with his invaluable insights.
The impact of Theresa’s support and technical advice was evident in the immense progress of the other singers on the course, and yet more so to feel in one’s own. Our one to one sessions with her were essential in underpinning the technical foundations for our pieces and our singing in general, aided by her fully integrated and holistic approach. Working with her in a beautiful frescoed parlour in the home of Italian Opera put everything into perspective, allowing all to tap into something that they didn’t quite know they possessed and find the truest version of their voice; while Matteo helped us to sound more authentically Italian, Theresa allowed us to sound more authentically like ourselves.
This was then complemented with the opportunity to work on a piece in a masterclass with the whole teaching team, which might well sound a little overwhelming, but the way they worked together, giving each other space to give their individual and unique inputs, reinforcing and supporting one another’s advice while managing to stay on the same page throughout, was a fascinating thing to witness and take part in.
We also had the chance to work with the fabulous Beverly, who inspired and supported us all through what was actually quite an emotional learning process (we were in Southern Italy after all!). She explored with us the dramatic undertones of our pieces, while managing to keep us calm and centred through physical workshops, yoga and breathing exercises. One of my favourite parts of the weekend was the morning movement workshops that she ran, a chance for the whole group to wake up together and prepare for the challenges to come while working on a beautiful and ancient circular balcony against a cacophony of morning birdsong. She, and Margherita, our host (and fantastic singer to boot) were also responsible for the most amazing meals - it was impossible not to bond over pasta and wine with such a lovely group and it was the perfect way to shake of the day’s work and soak up some authentic Italian traditions (spaghetti, twisted in a Parmesan wheel - what more could you want...?!)
The results of the weekend were tested by singing in a showcase to a full Italian audience and gaining their approval was a very moving experience for all; without exception, each individual’s improvements, both linguistically, technically and as a performer, were truly striking. To celebrate, I think it is fair to say that we may have consumed most of the wine, cheese and pasta in Southern Italy! We then finished the weekend perfectly with a sailing trip: lounging on a boat, tracing the coast line in the last of the day’s sun was just the perfect way to mull over everything that we had learnt and accomplished, (despite being briefly stopped by the coast guard...never a dull moment!) not to mention recover from an intensive and invaluable weekend. The amount that we all managed to achieve in just a few days is proof enough that a full week with this team would lead to pretty exceptional things - I could not recommend them highly enough.