For some time now, we have been hearing cries of alarm about a ‘shortage’ of voices suited to opera’s dramatic repertoire, as if these voices are disappearing from the earth. It is certainly not the case that these voices do not exist in nature. They do. What is lacking in our fast-paced world is the time and the care and specifically tailored instruction at an early age that it takes to develop any natural voice into a healthy, expressive, and durable operatic instrument. These instruments when properly developed can last over a career of 40 years or more. This is particularly true of voices that have the potential to develop into the dramatic repertoire of Strauss, Wagner, and Verdi. Dolora Zajick’s Institute is distinguished by the principle of recognizing dramatic voices at an early age and offering them collaborative teaching and guidance by experienced professionals who understand the unfolding of a voice in a growing body. Zajick’s own instrument took time and care to develop and it continues decades later to thrill audiences the world over. Passing on what she has learned over the course of her great career is now her guiding passion.
Established in 2006, the Institute has an innovative approach. An impressively credentialed faculty works in close collaboration with the students and with each other to provide a solid foundation of skills. The program recognizes six levels of development: Opera Discovery (15–17), Introductory (18–22), Intermediate (18–26), Emerging Artists (24–34), Young Professionals (27–36), and the American Wagner Project (no age limit).
Instruction is specifically tailored to the level of the singer, and at all levels the goal is to ‘get the whole voice rolling’ as Zajick says, as well as forming the whole singer and artist through a program of voice lessons, music fundamentals, Italian, German and English diction, acting, fitness, and professionalism. The program culminates in a final concert of opera scenes.
Graduates of the Institute are already finding their place in the training programs and on the stages of the world’s opera houses. Faculty members are chosen for their expertise and experience in opera, but also for their understanding of the particular development of dramatic voices. All students will have the opportunity to receive private and class instruction from such notable professionals as Dolora Zajick, Luana DeVol, Darrell Babidge (The Juilliard School), Kathryn LaBouff, John Parr (Deutscheoper Berlin), Beatrice Benzi (la Scala), Marianne Barrett (Metropolitan Opera), Yelena Kurdina (Metropolitan Opera). (For a complete list of all coaches and instructors and their bios, click here)