NAU Opera gears up for Italy


Nando Schellen is looking for singers to spend three weeks this summer performing in castle courtyards, opera houses and ancient churches in Italy. For their efforts, they will receive priceless experiences, standing ovations and an authentic Italian meal each day.

Schellen, the artistic director and associate professor of opera at NAU, will accept 30 students from schools worldwide into the third annual Flagstaff in Fidenza program. The NAU-sponsored workshop in Fidenza, Italy, immerses singers in opera culture, voice techniques and coaching.

“Our Flagstaff in Fidenza program is meant to give a select number of highly talented young singers the opportunity to have performing experiences that will prepare them for their professional careers,” Schellen said.

Last summer, an international faculty, including NAU’s Judith Cloud, professor of voice, Deborah Raymond, assistant professor of voice, and Schellen, taught 26 students from the United States, Canada, Italy and the Netherlands.

The students performed Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute with a full orchestra and a Puccini program in honor of the anniversary of Puccini’s 150th birthday. There were seven concerts and weekly performances in local churches.

Flagstaff in Fidenza 2008
The Flagstaff in Fidenza 2008 group gathers onstage in the opera house.

“In Italy, opera is an atmosphere—it’s part of their culture. They perform for an audience that has been living with opera all their lives,” Schellen said. “When our students get a standing ovation, it is inspiring.”

In 2009, the students will perform Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with a full orchestra as well as Verdi composed scenes with piano accompaniment.

Auditions for Flagstaff in Fidenza will be held at NAU in Flagstaff on Jan. 18 and at the New England Conservatory in Boston on Feb. 1. For information, go to

Opera fans can experience the NAU Opera performance of the Threepenny Opera, by composer Kurt Weill, at 7:30 p.m. April 2 and 4, and at 2 p.m. April 5 in Ardrey Auditorium. The production will be directed by guest director Kay Castaldo from Philadelphia, while Schellen is on sabbatical. For tickets call (928) 523-5661.