The Georg Solti Accademia was founded in 2004 by Valerie Solti, Candice Wood, and Jonathan Papp. Before his sudden passing in 1997, the famous conductor Sir Georg Solti often dreamed of running a summer school for young opera singers in Italy near his family’s summer home there. He felt it was his duty to pass on to the next generation what his mentors had passed on to him. Solti believed that the combination of immersion in opera and Italian life and culture could have an extremely powerful and positive effect on the development of young musicians as they transition from being students to being professionals with a responsibility to their colleagues and their audience. It was this idea that became central to the founding of the Accademia and remains central to the work we do today.
The Accademia began with its bel canto course for singers – a three-week long opportunity for opera singers at the beginning stages of their careers to focus on developing their voice and musicianship through the study of the Italian opera repertoire. The course is directed by the GSA’s artistic director and principal vocal coach, Jonathan Papp.
The location has always been the seaside Tuscan town of Castiglione della Pescaia, minutes away from the Solti family’s summer home where Maestro Solti spent more than 40 summers resting and studying his scores for the next season’s performances.
Solti’s influence as a conductor and mentor to musicians around the world meant that many of his long-time collaborators and friends jumped at the opportunity to teach at the Accademia, including Richard Bonynge, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Angela Gheorghiu, Barbara Frittoli, Leo Nucci, Jose Carreras, Mirella Freni, and Frederica von Stade, and others.
Following the success of the bel canto course, the Accademia established its repetiteur course in 2009. This course is aimed at creating innovative training opportunities for young opera répétiteurs to hone the many skills required of them when working on opera productions. Solti, himself a répétiteur, knew how integral this role is in the lives of opera singers and in the opera industry in general. This course is based at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy. Each year, some of the best répétiteurs in the world are invited to teach the course and help the next generation to expand its skills and knowledge. GSA artistic director Jonathan Papp directs and serves as the principal tutor for the course. The faculty has included Richard Bonynge, James Vaughan, Mark Markham, Pam Bullock, Rodrigo de Vera, and others.
Sadly, Lady Valerie Solti passed away in March of 2021. Valerie was an active part of the Accademia team up until her passing. Her vision, generosity and kindness will continue to inspire the entire future of this organisation.
We are honored and grateful to Claudia and Gabrielle Solti for their continued support for the Accademia. As Georg and Valerie’s daughters, they play a central role in supporting their parents’ legacy and work.
Sir Georg Solti, born in Budapest in 1912, was one of the great conductors of the 20th century. Music Director of numerous opera houses, including Munich, Frankfurt, London’s Royal Opera and the Paris Opera, as well as the Chicago Symphony orchestra, his 50-year relationship with Decca resulted in 300 recordings, including 40 operas and his legendary Ring cycle.
Throughout his life Solti never forgot those who helped him and was always willing to assist young musicians at the start of their careers. He promoted several generations of young singers and musicians, including Anja Silja, Wolfgang Windgassen, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Leo Nucci, Bryn Terfel, Rene Pape, Angela Gheorgiu and Renee Fleming.
Valerie Solti (née Pitts) led an extraordinary and fascinating life. Prior to marrying Maestro Solti, Valerie was already well known as a talented television presenter. As she became a part of Maestro Solti’s life and career, Valerie used her wisdom and experience to help lead many of the organisations that Solti worked for and founded.
After Georg Solti’s sudden death in 1997, it was Valerie who picked up the mantle. Valerie spent the rest of her life creating, leading, and supporting projects that embodied the ethos of her late husband. She played a vital role in the creation and/or leadership of many organizations that were indelibly connected to Maestro Solti, including the Solti Foundations (both in the EU and the USA), the Solti International Conducting Competition, the Solti Conducting Awards, the World Orchestra for Peace, the Mariinsky Theatre/Orchestra and, of course, the Georg Solti Accademia.
Valerie co-founded the Solti Accademia in 2004 with Jonathan Papp and Candice Wood. From that point up until her passing, Valerie served as President of the Board and was essential in helping establish it as one of the pre-eminent opera training programmes in the world for early-career opera singers and répétiteurs.