valeriephotomoiValerie Girard,
Artistic Director of Casentino Voice, studied at the American Opera Center of the Juilliard School as well as Italian bel canto and verismo opera with Luigi Ricci in Rome. She has performed with the New York City Opera and Wolf Trap Festival and has had an extensive performing career in major European theaters and concert halls with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Comissiona, Armin Jordan, Imre Pallo, Donald Runnicles, Nello Santi, Peter Schneider, and Stefan Soltesz.  She has given recitals and concerts with orchestra in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Paris and many other large cities in France, Germany and Italy. She also performed as soloist with chamber music ensembles (among others, the Lincoln Center Chamber Ensemble in New York). She is the creator and artistic director of “Camerata di Colombaia”, a summer music festival in the Apennine mountains in Italy. She teaches vocal technique and its application in repertoire in the USA, Germany and Italy, and is a former faculty member of the University of Koblenz, Germany.

marianphotomoiJames Gray
pianist and conductor, studied
at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he specialized in piano accompaniment and was répétiteur for the opera class. 
He also studied in Prague (Academy of Fine Arts), Florence (Centro Studi Rinascimento Musicale) and Pojanluoma, Finland. 
He was guest director of the Prague Madrigalists before working at the Nationaltheater Mannheim, Germany.
His subsequent move to Italy reflected his growing interest in Italian baroque music.
He is co-founder of the youth orchestra "L’Orchestra Sinfonica di Firenze", was head of vocal studies at the "Istituto Diocesano di Musica Sacra” and pursues an active career as a collaborative pianist in chamber music, art song and Lieder with a special interest in 20th Century English Song and French Mélodie. In the latter, he was assistant to Suzanne Danco for 10 years.
In music theatre, he has conducted opera, operetta, musicals and modern operas. He is presently preparing an edition of selected Italian 17th and18th century vocal music in the Estense Music Collection of the Austrian National Library, Vienna.


marioara2022Marioara Trifan internationally active pianist, conductor, coach and teacher, graduated from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Juilliard School in New York before completing postgraduate studies in both piano and orchestral conducting in Vienna and Cologne, Germany. Ms. Trifan has won numerous top prizes at the most prestigious international piano competitions and concertizes extensively on all continents. She has also held conducting positions at theaters in Germany and the United States, leading hundreds of performances of opera, symphony and ballet in a wide range of repertoire. From 1998 to 2015, Ms. Trifan was on the faculty of the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich, Germany, having previously taught at Louisiana State University as music director of the opera department and at the music universities of Hamburg, Heidelberg-Mannheim and Cologne. She gives frequent courses and master classes for singers, pianists and collaborative pianists in Europe, the United States, and Latin America.


Course overview

The renowned American soprano Valerie Girard will give masterclasses together with James Gray and Marioara Trifan in the medieval town of Stia in the Casentino Valley in Tuscany. Masterclasses will be conducted in vocal technique and vocal repertoire as well as private voice lessons and individual coaching. The program will culminate in an open-air festival concert for all participants. Coaching in French Melodie, German Lieder, Italian, Spanish and English song will be available as well as appropriate operatic, oratorio and early music repertoire. Master classes will be held in English. Private instruction is available in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. Non-active participants are also welcome.


Course fee and accommodation

The course fee for active participants is $800, for non-active participants $250. Accommodations are not included in the fee, but can be arranged in affordable housing in apartments shared with other students nearby. There are lovely cafés, restaurants and shops also within walking distance, as well as swimming in the Arno at the municipal park (Parco del Canto alla Rana). Free Wi-Fi is offered in several of the cafes.



The selection of active participants will be made on the basis of the candidate’s CV, a demo-recording or link to an online source such as YouTube. Works chosen should be from the classical vocal repertoire (opera, oratorio, art song). Those who wish to be non-active participants do not need to submit any audio material. Please include your personal details, a short biography, photo and a list of repertoire you would like to work on during the course, and submit with a Non-Refundable Application Fee of $50. (Early registration is recommended to secure your place in the course!) Application Form



Your application fee and payment for the course can be made with Zelle (for those with U.S. bank accounts), Paypal, Wise, or with postal money order or bank draft. For further information and questions email

Master classes, Voice lessons, Coaching, Performance

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Date: July 26 to August 4, 2024

Location: Musicaint – Scuola di Musica -  Via del Vecchio Municipio 1, 52015 Pratovecchio/Stia (AR), Italy

Sponsored by the Musicaint Scuola di Musica Intercomunale del Casentino -

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