Although the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible for Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival (PSN) to return to the Czech Republic in the summer 2021, PSN continued its history of providing rising young artists opportunities to perform Mozart’s operatic masterpieces in unique and historic settings through the 2021 Washington, DC Residency.
From June 19-26, 2021, 15 talented participants came together from top music schools across the USA for a week-long residency in Old Town Alexandria, VA, just minutes from downtown Washington, DC. Over the course of one week, these young musicians prepared a staged production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, under the direction of four of PSN’s distinguished faculty: John Nardolillo, Artistic Director & Conductor; Gayle Shay, Stage Director; Shannon McGinnis, Head Coach; and Catherine Clarke Nardolillo, Head of Voice. The company rehearsed and performed at the historic Rectory on Princess Street – Classical Movements’ headquarters in Alexandria, constructed in the 18th Century just a few years after the Estates Theatre.
In addition to three sold-out performances of The Magic Flute and a gala concert of opera arias, singers had the opportunity to participate in illuminating masterclasses with directors of the Washington National Opera Cafritz Young Artists and the Castleton Festival.
All performances were presented as part of Classical Movements’ innovative and critically acclaimed concert series “Sounds of Hope & Harmony.” Since June 2020, this series was the first and largest since the beginning of the pandemic, receiving plaudits from the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, OperaWire and other national press and featuring esteemed artists from the Metropolitan Opera, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Washington National Opera, San Francisco Opera, National Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and more.
Participants came from the Mannes School of Music, Eastman School of Music, Catholic University, James Madison University, Vanderbilt University, Peabody Conservatory, University of Michigan, Bard College, University of Maryland, Oklahoma City University, and Middle Tennessee State University. The performances also featured the Niles String Quartet (University of Kentucky) and special appearance by flautist Sabatino Scirri (United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps). For many, this was the first opportunity to perform for a live audience since before Covid-19 – and even their first opportunity to rehearse and perform in-person in any setting.
“I cannot say this enough, this has been one of the most rewarding and fun opera experiences I’ve had! Not only because we were lucky enough to perform in the Estates Theater, but more so because of the camaraderie and friendships I have made, that will last a lifetime."
“It truly is a joy to be here in Prague and spending so much time with this group of people. Everyone works so hard, and when all the different parts come together, the music we create is absolutely magical. There is much pleasure in growing and bonding with a very talented group of musicians.”
“Today I attended the Brass sectionals of Sibelius Symphony No. 2 and Dvorak Symphony No. 9, led by clinician Ladislav Kozderka who holds the position of principal trumpet of the Czech Philharmonic. I offered to be his personal metronome and he humbly laughed, saying "no, no, you must know this piece so much more than me!" He let me conduct the entirety of both symphonies, stopping every section to give feedback. I kept wanting to pinch my cheek because I knew all the words of wisdom was coming from one of the leaders of the orchestra that loves and owns Dvorak more than anywhere else in the world.”
Participating in this incredible program was life changing! I strongly encourage people interested to apply, you won’t regret it. Easily one of the best summers of my life ❤️
“I have had the most wonderful 4 weeks I could hope for!"
“I really enjoyed working with Dr. Jelena Nosková in the masterclass. She had wonderful suggestions and I felt my voice blossoming in the short time we worked together. I felt that it was very valuable to get some suggestions from someone I’d never worked with before. I thoroughly appreciate having this opportunity!”
“It was a pleasure for me being part of the festival, I learned a lot in Prague! Thank you for believing in my talent.”
“Thank you so much for the opportunity! I learned so much in that month, that I’m just hoping to retain a tiny bit of it! My teacher even noticed that my high notes have improved in tone. The program was absolutely amazing, and the people you brought together for it were even more so.”
“Thank you again for the incredible opportunity! I had an amazing trip and made so many memories.”
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity. It was an amazing experience with countless memories. Thank you again.”
"Thank you PRAGUE SUMMER NIGHTS so much for the incredible opportunity to work with you in Prague, and the amazing opportunities I’ve received!"
“A better experience could not have taken place for me during the first annual Prague Summer Nights Festival. I will forever take with me the memories and knowledge gained during my time with many wonderful musicians.”
"Prague Summer Nights was an incredible experience for me. I made friendships that will last a lifetime and learned so much about myself as a performer. Sometimes when you are engrossed in the whirlwind of hard, dedicated work it is difficult to see your own progress. Just months after the program I already feel a difference and ease of approach to my performing, as well as a greater awareness of not only what I can improve, but HOW I can improve. Having sung an opera where Mozart first conducted it is no small honor either! Thank you for the experience of a lifetime."
“Such an incredible experience getting a lesson and performing in a masterclass today with Walter Seyfarth, 30-year clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic, my favorite orchestra. My time in Prague has been a clarinetist’s dream! Very grateful.”
“Thanks for a great summer! The Prague experience was unforgettable. Thanks again.”
“I just wanted to take the opportunity again to thank you for this wonderful program you have created. I am still in awe of what took place over this last month, from Smetana Hall, to the Dvorak Museum, and finally Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre! I honestly don’t know how you did it!"