Vocal Technique and Interpretation Intensive in Valencia

Dr. Jean-Ronald LaFond, tenor, Anna Maria Niedbala, soprano, and Kanako Nakagawa, pianist offer a vocal technique and interpretation masterclass with a partial focus on Franz Schubert’s beautiful vocal writing.

Dates: 24-30 October 2021

Location: Estudio 21, Valencia, Spain

Daily offerings: Two half-hour voice lessons (or one 1-hour lesson), one 30 minute interpretation coaching and daily performance in a 3-hour group masterclass. Additional offerings on day 1 include, fundamentals of vocal structure, body awareness and musical communication.

Concert: The class will conclude with a concert on Saturday 30 October at 15:00

Schedule: Daily sessions will take place from 9:00 to 17:30, with individual lessons between 9:00 and 13:00 and masterclasses 14:30-17:30, with evenings free, in order to give participants a chance to experience Valencia’s rich cultural offerings. Valencia offers museums, The City of Arts and Sciences, a rich culinary tradition and a very diverse artistic life. An early evening dip in the Mediterranean is highly recommended!

Events: On the 24 October, the Opera of Valencia presents a semi-staged performance of Handel’s Partenope by William Christie and the Versailles vocal ensemble called Le jardin des voix (The Garden of Voices). Several of our students have graduated from Le Jardin des voix. Mezzosoprano Joyce DiDonato will present a recital on 30 October at 19:00, a couple of hours after our final concert. Buy tickets now if you are interested. They will go quickly. For Handel’s Partenope click here. For Joyce DiDonato, click here.

Repertoire: Each participant will bring a Lied by Franz Schubert. Additional repertoire at participant’s discretion. All music must be thoroughly learned (pitches and rhythms correctly executed. Language as good as possible). Memorization is recommended. Only memomorized pieces will be included in the performance.

Preparation: The better prepared you are the more exciting the class will be for all involved. Please take this to heart! You will get to sing in 5 masterclasses. Bring enough repertoire for this! If a piece is not ready for masterclass, it will not be done (if you are uncertain of the state of your piece, sing it in your voice lessons and coaching before singing it in masterclass. Short pieces are recommended. A longer work can be coached over two or more sessions.

Philosophy: We are here to help! It is our purpose to create a nurturing environment, while working intensively. We will multiply what you bring. Bring preparation! Bring a sense of fun! Bring a desire to grow! There is no perfection, but there is always better. Wonderful experiences can happen when we are in an environment that is different from our normal routines. This is a chance to explore and discover, inspire and be inspired. We still remember when we were moved by such experiences and want to create the opportunity for you to find your own unforgettable experiences.

Selection: Participants will be chosen on a first come first serve basis. We will accommodate a maximum of 10 participants. As of this writing, 6 students have confirmed participation verbally and 9 more have expressed interest. If you have not worked with one of the teachers before, please send a video link of your singing in the appropriate box below.

Tuition: €750.00, due by 1st October 2021 to guarantee your place.

Room and board: Participants are responsible for their own lodging and food. Valencia offers a wide array of lodging at very affordable prices. Airbnb is recommended.


Jean-Ronald LaFond

After a long carrier as a baritone, the  Haitian-born American, Jean-Ronald LaFond discovered his vocal center in the dramatic tenor repertoire, when he debuted as Canio in I Pagliacci. Since then he has undertaken such roles as Cavaradossi, Don José, Otello and most recently Siegmund. An engaging recitalist, LaFond sings a vast repertoire in a dozen languages, particularly, French, German and Spanish. Dr. LaFond is sought out worldwide as a voice teacher, with masterclasses recently in Mexico, Austria, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden. His blog, Kashu-do, The Way of the Singer is visited by thousands of followers monthly. He regularly visits opera theaters throughout Europe to work with his many professional singers. Dr. LaFond has held faculty positions at several American Universities including, University of Florida, Utah State University, East Carolina University, University of Delaware and Westminster Choir College. He is in demand as guest professor at music institutions in Europe, Asia and the American continent. He has been active in several facets of vocal music including conducting, stage directing and composition.  He currently resides in Valencia, Spain, where he welcomes his students for intensive vocal development work.

Anna Maria Niedbala

 Polish-born soprano Anna Maria Niedbala received her vocal training at the University of Illinois and her graduate degree from University of Texas. Beginning her career as a mezzo soprano, she was a member of the Minnesota Opera Young Artist Program, Sarasota Opera Apprentice Program, Baltimore Opera Studio and the Chicago Opera Theater Ensemble. She has sung many mezzo roles including Suzuki (Madame Butterfly), Emelia (Otello), and Siebel (Faust) at Minnesota Opera, White Cat (L’Enfant et les Sortileges) with the Minnesota Orchestra, Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte) with Opera Illinois, Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana) with Chelsea Opera and the Page (Salome) with Baltimore Opera. Soprano roles include Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) with Chelsea Opera, Vitellia in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito with the Salzburger Landestheater. and most recently, Tosca (Tosca) at Härnösand Opera Festival in Sweden. 

Teaching internationally, Ms. Niedbala has years of experience with students, young and old which includes graduate teaching at the University of Texas, visiting professorship at Härnösands Folkhögskola Kapellsberg Operastudio and Luleå University of Technology School of Music. She has also enjoyed teaching at several summer festivals and continuing series of international masterclass seminars. Having a degree in massage therapy and having the experience of being a tango dancer, she focuses on the physicality of the whole singer, and not just the voice. Ms. Niedbala also enjoys teaching classes in body awareness for singers. 

Kanako Nakagawa

Kanako Nakagawa received her musical and piano training first at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, then at the Juilliard School of Music (Pre-College Division) in New York with Prof. Jane Carlson. Her continuing education took her to London where she studied with Prof. Yonty Solomon at the Royal College of Music. Her fascination with singing led her to focus on the vocal repertoire,  especially the German Lied.  This led her to the Lied class of Prof. Hartmut Höll and Prof. Mitsuko Shirai at the Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe, where she completed her artistic training and concert exam with distinction.

Her numerous awards include the Gina Bachauer Memorial Prize (New York), Kendall Taylor Beethoven Prize (London) and a scholarship from the Baden Art Foundation -Württemberg and the Kulturfond Baden, as well as the second prize and the Schubert special prize for Lied duo at the International Competition Franz Schubert and Modern Music, in Graz, Austria.  At the International Competition for Lied Art Stuttgart, Kanako Nakagawa was awarded the first (Great Lied Duo) prize together with baritone Herman Wallén.

Her concerts as a soloist and song pianist, including several radio and television productions, took her to the USA, Japan, Korea and several European countries. She has participated in numerous festivals including the Helsinki Festival, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival and Rheingau Festival.

Since 2003 and 2004 respectively, Kanako Nakagawa has been teaching vocal accompaniment at the Hochschule für Musik „Hanns Eisler“ in Berlin und an der Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe, where she mentors and helps develop numerous young singers. She assisted in master classes by Mitsuko Shirai, Roman Trekel, Tom Krause and George Shirley, among others.

As musical director of the Berlin International Opera (2006-2011) she led productions of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Verdi’s Macbeth, A Hand of Bridge (S.Barber), The Medium (G.Menotti) and The Gift of the Magi by David Conte in co-operation with English Theater Berlin.

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