Welcome to my 2 Residential Bel Canto Retreats in Valdres, Norway;
June 27th - July 3rd & August 1st - August 7th, 2022.
INCLUDED: Accommodation at the property,Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
The iconic soprano Maria Callas and my award winning singing teacher, the Italian soprano Aida Meneghelli, hadthe same singing teacher, the famous coloratura soprano Elvira De Hidalgo.
"Hidalgo had the real great training, maybe even the last great training of the real Bel Canto."
(Maria Callas, in conversation with Lord Harewood, 1968)
I had the privilege of being trained the old school way; with private lessons with Meneghelli 6 days a week, for many years, in Verona, Italy.
She was very concerned about the fact that there were very few singers and singing teachers who knew the real, old school Bel Canto technique then, 25 years ago, and she kept telling me this:
"You HAVE to start having students, at some point, or OUR TECHNIQUE might die out! There are so few of us in the world, and we have to keep it alive!"
I didn't fully understand how true that was, back then, but now I do, and it is an honour to be able to pass this great technique on to new singers all over the world, via Zoom, and in person.
With Maestra Aida Meneghelli after a concert, Verona, Italy.
"If you don't have the Bel Canto you cannot sing any opera, as a matter of fact, not even the most modern."
(Maria Callas, in conversation with Lord Harewood, 1968.)
I am delighted to welcome a LIMITED NUMBER of singers to my 2 Bel Canto Retreats this summer, at my new home in Norway. We just moved back to Norway in April this year, after 26 years abroad; having lived in Italy, France, USA and England.
This is YOUR chance to be introduced to this legendary technique, no matter what level you are on, in a safe and supportive environment. There is no other technique quite like Bel Canto, and the biggest surprise for my current students is how EASY it all of a sudden is to sing high notes, agility, big intervals and all those other things that singers usually struggle with, once they start mastering the foundation of the technique.
At the retreat I will analyse, in detail, what each singer does, compared to what they should be doing, with regards to their singing. Then I tailor make my Private Lessons to each student's needs. Whether your problem is hitting high notes, effortlessly, or hitting them at all, running out of breath when you sing long phrases, tired throat from singing, or something else, you will probably be surprised once you realise that it is usually something else than what you think that is causing problems.
Everything that happens in a singer's life (short term and long term) affect how the singer performs, be it physical and mental activities, stress, illness, diet, etc.
As a singer you ARE the instrument, and you can never get away from that, so it is important to start treating yourself accordingly!
The 2 Retreats are identical when it comes to the program, and I only have space for 5 singers on each.
The singers will have both group- and private lessons every day, covering several topics during the group sessions:
The main building blocks of the Bel Canto technique: Breathing with the diaphragm, posture and support, legato singing, relaxing the jaw, how to create space in the palate and control the sound, singing "in maschera," etc.
Mindset and confidence building: Many singers struggle with lack of confidence. I successfully implemented techniques from sports- and performance psychology in my training, many years ago, and I have helped singers overcome terrible stage fright. We also talk about the importance of meditation as preparation for performances.
Diction: Italian language for singers.
We look at videos of some of the most legendary Bel Canto singers and compare them to singers of today. What are the main differences?
Each singer will also have individual singing lessons every day.
At the end of the Retreat the singers may choose to participate in a house concert, which will be open to the public.
For an extra fee this service is also available:
We have a professional, digital recording studio in the house. Each of the singers will have access to a one hour session with the purpose of recording a song, or parts of it, for training purposes, not release, so you can see for yourself on the screen how your singing is, when it comes to being on key, timing, etc. This is a VERY helpful tool for singers.
Bel Canto singers are athletes. A good start to the day is important, so we start with a healthy breakfast, followed by a short walk down to the very clean river, at the border of the property.
If anyone wants to take a swim it is possible (also before breakfast).
We will also do some easy stretches and exercises for singers, preferably outdoors.
10:30 - 12:30
Group sessions: The basics of old school Bel Canto technique: Breathing with the diaphragm, support/core strength, legato, posture, jaw, etc.
We will talk about the importance of mindset, self confidence for singers, meditation, and different styles of acting.
Also: Italian Diction with Berit Hagen.
My daughter Nicole graduated in theatre acting at the Cotswold School, England, and she will talk briefly about different styles of acting one of the days.
Breathing exercises will be part of the morning routine.
13:00 - 14:30
Lunch break, with lunch served in the main dining room, or in the garden.
We usually have some kind of pasta with salad and bread for lunch, since it is excellent food before singing. It will be dairy free, and please let me know about special dietary needs. We have many diets due to food allergies already in this house, so we know how to handle that.
14:30 - 17:30
Each singer has a private singing lesson with me, without the others present.
It will last from 30 to 50 minutes, depending on how well developed the singer's diaphragm and endurance is.
I use Vaccaj's "Metodo Pratico di Canto" for all my students, and I recommend that singers who do not have it order the small book online and familiarise themselves with it.
20:00 - until we are tired...
We have dinner in the main dining room, or in the garden, where it is possible to do BBQs.
If singers want to have wine, or other alcohol with the food, they have to buy that at the Norwegian "Vinmonopolet" stores. The closest is a 20 minutes drive away. It has an ok selection, but those in bigger cities, such as Hønefoss (on the way from Oslo) has more to choose from.
MY BACKGROUND: I had no previous musical training when I moved to Verona, Italy, in 1995 and found Maestra Meneghelli.
I had seen the movie Amadeus, and I just KNEW what I had to do when I heard the soprano sing "Der Hölle Rache:"
I had to sing that aria for The Queen of the Night.
I did not know at the time that very few sopranos have the kind of voice that can sing those high notes...I just trusted my strong gut feeling.
I left behind a safe 9 to 5 life, just as I was about to start the last year of my MBA studies. I took two very young children, and my then-husband with me, and moved to a country where none of us spoke the language or knew anyone.
It was the best decision I have ever made.
After only 3 1/2 years of training, I made my operatic concert debut with 5 of the most demanding arias ever written:
the 2 arias for "The Queen of the Night" (my gut feeling was right)
the Mad Scene duet with a flute from "Lucia di Lammermoor"
"Ach, ich liebte," one of Konstanze's arias from "Die Entführung auß dem Serail"
and Olympia's "Doll Aria."
A very special moment: my dad congratulating me after my debut concert. He was the one who discovered my talent for singing, and I performed with him regularly from I was 10 to 13 years old.
During the next couple of years I gave numerous concerts in Europe, where I received excellent press coverage, especially in my native country, Norway.
I had just signed a contract with a manager in New York, being on track to the international career I had been groomed for, by Meneghelli, when it became clear that my very demanding family situation made it impossible for me to continue travelling and performing. With one of my young children diagnosed with life threatening allergies to almost all normal food, it was impossible to be away for long periods.
Ever since I stopped performing I have dedicated my professional life to coaching and managing other artists, most notably my oldest daughter (The Commander In Chief), whom I have worked with since she was 18 years old. I have taken her from unknown to being featured in the biggest music magazines in the world, on TV shows, and major festivals internationally.
In 2021 I spent 3 months creating an online Bel Canto course to save singers time and money, without compromising on quality. The course is easy to follow, and it is for singers on ALL levels. Most of my students combine the course with 1:1 Zoom singing lessons.
It is NOT a requirement to be enrolled in my online course to participate in the Bel Canto Retreats.
BUT singers who have bought my course, and/or take lessons with me on Zoom, have priority.
To sign up for singing lessons with me on Zoom, or my online Bel Canto course, go here!
I know that MANY singers are struggling after 2 years of lockdowns, and the current situation with rising prices for everything does not make it easier. I have priced these Retreats quite low, to make them available for more singers.
The price does NOT reflect the high quality of the lessons.
If you are worried about traveling alone, or to Norway for the first time, do not worry.
We can pick you up at Oslo airport :)
The price per Retreat (June OR August) is € 1.097.
This includes accommodation in the lovely side building, and 3 home cooked meals a day.
Food in Norway is very expensive, so having the meals included will save you a lot of money.
The guest rooms in the old side building, the Stabbur, have been re-decorated in May 2022. The building's 1st floor is divided into two equal parts, with 2 bedrooms in each. The 2 bedrooms in each of the units have a small door opening between them, separated by a heavy curtain. It is possible to open the door between the 2 units as well, if the participants want to do that.
We are working to install running water there, but the singers have to use one of the bathrooms in the main building, which is very close, to take showers.
A modern apartment for 2 people, with a private, spacious kitchen, and a modern bathroom is also available, for an extra fee, on the 1st floor of the main building.
The old Stabbur has been converted into a comfortable guest house, just meters from the main house.
2 of the newly re-decorated bedrooms. All the bedrooms have their own desks and comfy beds. There is a storage room in the hallway for suitcases and other things, if it is needed.
We have done everything we can to ensure our guests get the rest they need:)
The property is located 100 meters off the main road between Oslo and Bergen, E16, and the bus "Valdres Expressen" stops right outside the house. Despite the closeness to the road there is not much traffic, since Norway is a country with very few people. You will see what I mean when you get here :) My English husband is VERY surprised by the lack of traffic here...
If you arrive by plane, you can take a short train trip to Oslo Central Station from the Airport, and take the bus from Oslo Central Bus Station, which is next to the main train station.
If you rent a car, the house is just under 2 hours north of Oslo.
Alternative accommodation in the guest apartment in the main house, with a private kitchen and bathroom, and a very comfy and spacious living room/bedroom.
The guest apartment has a wood burner, and wood is available upon request.
A well equipped kitchen in the guest apartment in the main house.
A small kitchen table with chairs
The property has a very big outdoors area, which goes all the way down to one of Norway's best Trout rivers; Begna, in Begnadalen.
We have fishing rights, so if you are into fishing, you can try your luck, or go swimming in the very clean lake.
The area, Valdres, is known for its stunning natural beauty and wildlife. If you want to explore it you will need a car.
The closest, small supermarket is 3 km away. The closest village, Bagn, is 20 minutes drive away. There is a famous bakery there, in addition to supermarkets, a sports store and also a Wine store.
The property goes all the way down to one of Norway's best Trout rivers, Begna. The water is so clean you can drink it.
From one of the bedrooms in the side building.
For 13 years I have been the manager, singing teacher and video producer for my oldest daughter, known as "The Commander In Chief."
Hailed as "1 of 10 modern guitar gods," by the biggest guitar magazines in the world, she successfully transitioned to classical crossover, with the first EVER guitar recordings of some of the most difficult violin pieces ever written, after success in heavy metal.
She is doing a guitar retreat this summer, the week after my Bel Canto retreat, but if some singers want to have guitar lessons with her during their Bel Canto retreat, that is possible as well.
Singers or guitarists who does both singing and guitar lessons get a 20% discount on the 2nd instrument, since they do not pay for accommodation and food twice, the same week.
Sign up before May 10th and get 2 or 3 FREE 1:1 60 minutes singing lessons with me on Zoom before the June 27th - July 3rd retreat, so you get to know me and how I coach.
(This offer also applies to my current students)
All of my online students can enrol without any further approval, as long as there are spaces available. I ONLY have space for maximum 5 singers on each of the two retreats.
If you are not one of my current students, please send me one recent video of yourself (email: email@example.com) singing an aria or song of your choice, so I can see which level you are on.
The video can be made with your phone, without any pianist, and I do not care about the location. I only care about your voice and current technique, so do not waste time and money making a professional video :)
If you sign up for BOTH retreats, you get a 20% discount on the second one.