Härnösand Opera Academy and Festival 2017

Explore your operatic potential this summer in beautiful Härnösand, Sweden!   In cooperation with Kashu-do Studios, Härnösands Folkhogskola offers a Summer Opera Academy that will provide the ever-developing singer an opportunity to hone in the many skill-sets required of an operatic artist in an environment that is as supportive and genial as it is focused and challenging.

The program will provide daily classes in physical fitness and mental focus, vocal technique, musical coaching, scenic interpretation, language and diction, body-alignment/muscular balancing and ensemble singing. Additionally each singer will have the opportunity to perform in daily master classes and take part in a performance of arias and scenes at the end of the program as well as a final concert with the faculty.  Pianists will work closely with singers and with our experienced piano faculty to develop their skills as collaborative pianists.

Kashu-do (歌手道): The Way of the Singer is a philosophy of vocal artistry developed by Dr. Jean- Ronald LaFond. In short, it is a process that opens the developing singer to the awareness of the many elements that must be mastered in order to achieve true competence as a vocal artist, with particular emphasis on opera. Dates: June 17- July 1, 2017 (Arrival Saturday June 17, departure Sunday, July 2)

The Academy is open to singers of all levels (amateur to professional).  Singers can chose to concentrate on Opera, Song (Lieder/Romans/Artsong/Mélodies, etc) or a combination of the two. Singers at the academy are treated as individuals.  We pride ourselves on addressing each singers personal goals with the goal of helping singers address their immediate challenges and thereby take the next important steps in their own development.

Click here for full brochure of faculty


Legendary Tenor and Teacher George Shirley and Dr. Mutsumi Moteki return as our featured faculty members!

It is with the greatest joy that we announce the participation of the legendary tenor and master teacher George Shirley as our featured faculty member at Härnösand Opera Academy and Festival 2017 for the 3rd year in a row.  Arguably the finest Pélléas on record, the Grammy Award winner (Ferrando--Cosi fan tutte) literally opened the door for men of color on the operatic stage.  The first black tenor to sing lead roles at major opera houses all over the world (La Scala, Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, etc), paradoxically Maestro George Shirley's artistry transcends race.  He is a colleague beloved by his peers  and a teacher admired by his students, evoking a level of respect  that very few can inspire.

Maestro Shirley will be in residence during the entire period of the Academy and Festival  He will present master-classes and offer individual lessons.  Maestro Shirley's participation in 2015 and 2016 gave us much to aspire to.  He is our "most experienced student" as he likes to call himself.  

 Dr. Mutsumi Moteki who led our Massenet Mélodies Project won the heart of our audiences as well as our participants.  She was as eloquent on the piano as she was on the cembalo supporting our early music ensemble. We are so elated to have her confirmation that she will return this summer and will lead our Song Program. Our featured teachers will be joined by our regular Academy team of teachers and special guest artists and teachers who will be announced soon!


We welcome Stage Director Eric Gibson, Metropolitan Opera Bass-baritone John Cheek and Professor Leif Lundberg among our teachers in 2017

Bass-baritone John Cheek has sung nearly 400 performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera since his debut in 1977. He has appeared in major opera houses and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe including most of the major venues in North America, Brussels' La Monnaie, Opéra de Nice, Bregenzer Festspiel, Berlin Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Zurich Tonhalle, Finnish National Opera, The Salzburg Festival and the Royal Philharmonic in Stockholm. He has an equally vast experience in the performance of oratorio and recitals, having partnered with some of the finest collaborative pianists in the United States including Maestro James Levine.  He has a special interest in oratorio performance and a special affinity for the music of Franz Schubert.  His impressive discography ranges a broad spectrum of genres including classical song, opera, oratorio and musicals.

Professor Leif Lundberg is among the most esteemed figures in the Swedish Opera scene, both as a top repetiteur/coach and a voice teacher.  He mentored the Swedish tenor Gösta Winberg through his change from Lyric to dramatic tenor and counselled him up until Mr. Winberg’s untimely death.  He has coached celebrated dramatic soprano Nina Stemme through her transition into the dramatic repertoire and continues a fruitful collaboration with her.  From 2002-10 he was the head repetiteur and Studienleiter and assistant conductor at the Royal Opera Stockholm, where he was responsible for the the works of Wagner and Richard Strauss, during which time he taught many of the singers in the solo ensemble.  Professor Lundberg is currently the administrator for the Opera program at the Opera Högskolan in Stockholm, Sweden’s highest opera training institution. We are happy and fortunate to have him among our featured faculty.

Eric Gibson is a rising name in stage direction who feels equally comfortable with opera, operetta and musical theater.  His many productions, receiving constant critical acclaim, include Candide, Trouble in Tahiti, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, RigolettoDie Fledermaus, the entire Gilbert and Sullivan canon and a host of musical theater works including, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Gypsy, Guys and Dolls and Into the Woods to name a few.  He is greatly in demand as a stage director throughout the University system in the United States and recently joined the acting and coaching faculty of The American Institute for Musical Studies, the reknown opera training program in Graz Austria.  He is based in Flagstaff, Arizona where he holds the post of Associate Professor of Lyric Theater at Northern Arizona University.  Mr. Gibson earned his bachelors degree at the University of Michigan and Masters in Opera Direction at Indiana University.  An excellent pianist and trained singer, his vibrant stagings stem from an intimate knowledge of the musical score.


Application and Registration

To apply, please proceed to the application form by clicking the button below (application fee: 400 SEK). Once accepted, students will receive the link to register and pay for the course.  Application Deadline is 15 April 2017 or until all spots are filled.  We find that the Academy works best with fewer students and so we limit our numbers to 30 singers and 5 pianists.   Places will go quickly!  Do not wait to the last minute.  Acceptance into the program will be announced immediately after the deadline with repertoire assignments.

Video:  The application form asks for a link to a video of the applicant peforming.  This helps the faculty to have an idea of your skills and to prepare for your instruction. Once accepted students will receive payment instructions for the course and room and board. All applicants, without exception, mut provide a video. It does not need to be fancy. Can be done with a smart phone and posted to dropbox or youtube (Links will not be shared beyond teachers of the academy who need to make application decisions)

  • Singers:  Provide a video of yourself performing two pieces including one operatic aria of your choice in original language and key. Second piece maybe another aria or a song, preferably in your own language. Early music candidates, sing one 18th Century Baroque aria (oratorio or opera) and one 17th century composition.
  • Pianists: Provide a video of yourself playing a solo piece that shows the level of your pianistic skills and of you accompanying a singer in a song or aria (It is understood that pianists will have good sight-reading skills).
  • Room: All participants will reside in student dormitories with in-room bathrooms  (double occupancy 2800 SEK, or single occupancy 4200 SEK for 14 nights) equipped with two communal kitchens per floor (in case students want to prepare their own meals).

    Board: Students have the option of buying their own food and cooking in their apartments or may opt for the campus food service (2 meals per day--Lunch and Supper  2575 SEK).  Breakfast is optional for 615 SEK

    (Friday and Saturday 23-24 June is Midsummer in Sweden.  Those days will be free. The campus restaurant will be closed.  Participants will provide their own meals on those days). 

    Fees: The 2-week Academy costs 8.000 SEK 

    Individual Lessons

    The Academy offers individual lessons to those who cannot attend all sessions.  Experienced teachers trained in the Kashu-do Method will be available to offer vocal instruction to students of all ages and levels of experience:

    1-2 lessons: 700 SEK per lesson

    3-4 lessons 650 SEK per lesson

    5 or more lessons 600 SEK per lesson

    For more information email Dr. Jean-Ronald LaFond.