Margaret Elisofon '17 singing opera

Hartwick to Host Summer Opera Camp

April 3, 2017

Hartwick College will host the Foothills Opera Experience, an opera camp for graduate, undergraduate, and some gifted high school students going into opera performance, from June 9-18, 2017. This is the first year the Foothills Opera Experience has been held outside of Binghamton, and the first major summer music program to be held on the College campus since 2012.

The program will take students from “page to stage” in one week. It will offer an intensive, personal curriculum that will focus on creative process, diction, opera coaching, voice coaching, and movement/dance. Participants will also perform in at least two master classes.

The camp concludes with students performing in a fully staged opera scenes program, conducted by maestro William Vendice. Students will have the opportunity to perform in an aria and/or art song recital.

Applications are now being accepted for 24 available spaces.

Required auditions will be held in New York City, Binghamton, and Oneonta. The New York City auditions will be held on Wednesday, April 19 from 5 – 8 p.m. at the Megremis Music Studios, Otello Room, 5th floor, at 2067 Broadway (between West 71st and 72nd street). Auditions will be held upon request in Binghamton and Oneonta.

Foothills Opera Experience faculty include some of the top professionals and instructors in the field, including:

  • Conductor William Vendice – Vendice was head of music staff and chorus master at Los Angeles Opera from 1995-2007. He served on the Metropolitan Opera Education committee for eight years. Vendice was also music director of University of Southern California Opera from 1992-1995, and UCLA Opera from 1996-2004.
  • Creative Process Instructor and Stage Director Carol Castel – Castel is currently artistic director of the Delaware Valley Opera Company; on the faculty of Opera NUOVA in Edmonton, Alberta; and is founder of the New York Opera Studio in Manhattan.
  • Voice Coach Mary Burgess (Soprano) – Burgess is an associate professor of music at Binghamton University, and has appeared professionally with the New York City Opera and at Holland Festival. She has also performed as soprano soloist with more than two dozen U.S. orchestras including the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and Cincinnati Symphony.
  • Voice Coach Steven Nanni (Tenor) – Nanni earned his bachelor of music degree at the Conservatorio de Milano, and has privately studied and performed with soprano Montserrat Caballe and under the baton of Placido Domingo. His professional appearances include the New York City Opera; Opera Company of Dublin, Ireland; Carnegie Hall; the La Lirica di Eneizia; and the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival of the United Kingdom. He is also an artist-in-residence and professor of voice at Hartwick College.
  • Movement/Dance Instructor and Choreographer Stephanie A. Surowka-Sanders – Surowka-Sanders is an adjunct professor of dance in the theater department of Binghamton University, where she teaches technique of ballet, musical theater, and jazz. She has taught dance for more than 15 years, and is owner/director of the Conklin Dance Academy in Conklin, NY. She is a board member, a certified teacher, and member of Dance Masters of America.

Nanni is one of the program’s principal organizers.

“While an undergrad, I attended an opera program that changed and influenced my life so much that now I am committed to forming a program that will do the same for the next generation of students of opera,” he said.

Hartwick senior Margaret Elisofon participated in the vocal program last year, and felt it was a transformative experience.

“The artist that stood in front of the class on the first night of the program was not the Margaret that looks back at me in the mirror each day,” she said. “She was scared, shy, apologetic, and uncomfortable.”

By the time the time she performed two solo pieces on the last day of the program, “I finally found my confidence; nothing seemed impossible,” she added. “I finally felt unafraid to be the musician I wanted to be. I have a long way to go, but it felt like a huge leap in the right direction.”

For additional information on the Foothills Opera Experience, to apply or arrange an audition, visit, or contact Nanni at (607) 725-9231.