Study Abroad Spotlight: To the Opera, in Italy


From left to right” Franco Rossi (baritone), Claudia Ciabattini (soprano), Stephanie Marson, Franz Moser (pianist).

By Stephanie Marson
Photo by Barbara Marson

For Jan Term, I completed an internship in Florence, Italy through a program called Performing Arts Abroad which is affiliated with the Florence University of the Arts (FUA). I stayed in student housing that was provided by FUA. My apartment, which I shared with five others, was on the side of the Arno opposite the Duomo.

My major is Vocal Performance so I wanted to have an internship that related to it. I worked with St. Mark’s Opera Company, a non-profit music society that performs in St. Mark’s English Church in Florence, as well as other locations. I also took an Italian class as part of my internship for two and a half hours per day. My Italian class was located near the FUA Student Life Office near the Santa Croce Church. At night I worked with the opera company, both in preparations, serving refreshments during intermission, cleanup afterwards, and later, performing. When the company discovered that I was a music major, they asked me to sing an aria for one performance. I sang “Stizzoso, mio stizzoso” from “La Serva Padrona” by G.B. Perolesi. After that, they kept me as a permanent part of the program for the rest of the month. It was an honor to sing with such talented professionals. This January, the opera program was “Love Duets” from famous operas.  

St. Mark’s Opera Company was founded by Franz and Ilse Moser 13 years ago. The singers come from different opera houses in Tuscany, most of them from Florence. The church is part of an old Medici Palace that was owned by Machiavelli and has been renovated in a neo-renaissance style with beautiful icons. It is also an important venue for Firenze Lirica, a well-established Florentine society for the promotion of operatic performance and study.

My experience in Italy was very exciting as I not only learned about how a small opera company operates, but I also was immersed in a culture that was different from my own. I created a blog about my experiences.

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