Artistic Director Jonathan Papp reports on two exceptional  GSA courses in Beijing in Spring 2016

After our successful ‘satellite’ GSA course in Juilliard in 2013, May saw the first GSA project in Beijing with soprano Barbara Frittoli, an initiative supported by Rolex and the National Centre for Performing Arts. From some 200 applications we selected eight to go on to the full programme at the NCPA.
Our masterclasses were held in the extraordinary ‘egg’ building of the NCPA, housing a huge concert hall, theatre and opera house.  Italian language coach Corradina Caporello and myself prepared students for two days, who then continued their work with Barbara Frittoli, our star guest. It was a brilliantly matched team.
The language work – all through interpreters – was of huge significance, the students having such a lot to learn about the meaning of words, or even the story of their opera. They worked hard to assimilate ideas and instructions, and the speed of progress was astonishing.  The final day included an open masterclass, for which the singers received a warm reception.
At the programme’s conclusion, I was able to announce that the young baritone Zhang Yang, from the NCPA itself, would be coming to the GSA 2016 edition, followed by a young tenor in 2017.  In future, each visit will yield a scholarship for a place at GSA. Their experience on the full programme will consolidate the work begun in Beijing, including that all-important immersion in Castiglione life.
Finally, I chose three singers to take on to Shanghai for a recital for Rolex. Before a packed and attentive audience, I answered questions about the GSA.
Each singer prefaced their performance with
an introduction to their pieces, and shared their experiences with us in Beijing. When it was interpreted, I was moved to hear how much they had gained from it, calling it, amongst many other glowing testimonies, ‘a life-changing experience’. They excelled in their performances, demonstrating just how far they had come in a few days. There was an extraordinary hunger among them to learn, and to learn well,
and our input was truly appreciated.
The visit has demonstrated just how inspiring, efficient and effective the GSA model is, and I hope we can continue to employ it both in China and around the world.