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Patricia's Italian for opera singers’ school in Tuscany, Italy, now in its 19th year is an introduction to Italian language and culture with performance opportunities and is commended by foremost New Zealand opera singers and teachers.

Patricia invites opera singers interested in participating to apply. Costs are detailed below. A limited number of scholarships may be available.

Dame Malvina Major, New Zealand’s great opera diva,attended the masterclasses in Tuscany and France and highly recommends this introduction to Italy and France for all young singers.

“We are really indebted to you for opening up opportunities for us in Italy. I feel absolutely enriched by the Italian experience. Every student who is serious about a singing career should visit Italy. Thank you for opening up the big scary world of Italian opera!” Anna Leese, soprano.

As a former manager of an opera company Patricia was very aware of the great need for opera singers to know the Italian language.

  • Over 80% of the operas produced in New Zealand are from the Italian repertoire and sung in Italian but very few students go to Italy for study.
  • Italian is essential for an international opera singing career.
  • Today's singer has to have “the edge” with a knowledge of languages.
  • Singers need to hear the rhythm and placement of the language and learn to produce an Italianate sound.
  • Singers need to lose self-consciousness with the language and move naturally from singing to speaking, vital for recitatives.
  • Singers need the opportunity to have an understanding of the culture and spirit of the people upon whom the stories of most Italian operas are based.
  • Singers need the inspiration of being there in Italy.

We stay in a large and very beautiful 18th century Tuscan Villa set among vineyards and olive groves in the Chianti Hills for up to a week. In the Villa also stay 8 – 12 participants of Patricia’s Opera Tours. While the singers study during the day, the tourists explore Tuscany. All get together each evening.

Joel Amosa, Patricia Hurley, Maestro Wyn Davies, Pasquale Orchard, Tim Carpenter, Stephen Diaz, Dame Malvina Major at Villa Petrolo.

Our selection of maestros include: Dr Wyn Davies, British conductor, and Director of Music for New Zealand Opera; Peter Lockwood, expatriate New Zealander and foremost vocal coach with Opera Netherlands; and Cristiano del Monte, director of music from Teatro Lirico di Cagliari and Opera de Montecarlo.

Scholarships for the singers over recent years have been provided by The Dame Malvina Major Foundation and generous individuals.

The Concert in the Villa, prepared by our artists, is always a delightful programme of arias sung in Italian. We now have a big following with 60 to 80 guests including friends, opera and music contacts in Italy. The Concert is followed by wines and a fine Tuscan dinner.

It is a great occasion and in 2020 will be on 1 or 2 October. Invite your friends to come!

In some years we visit the homes, theatres and towns of Puccini and Verdi, placing them in the context of their times and history, essential for interpreting the roles and the music. We attend operas in Verona, Venice, Parma or Milan and other concerts. Some years with the support of the New Zealand Embassy we have performed at the Embassy, in the 2000 year old Theatre of Marcellus as part of the Roman Summer Nights Festival or through special sponsors we have performed in Montevarchi in Tuscany, Montefalco and Bevagna in Umbria and Guastalla near Parma.


2019 Pasquale Orchard, Stephen Diaz, Joel Amosa, Tim Carpenter

2018 Joanna Foote, Marlena Devoe, Harry Grigg, Benjamin Reason

2017 Marlena Devoe, Natasha Wilson, Bianca Andrew, Jonathan Eyers

2016 Eliza Boom, Katherine McIndoe, Kieran Rayner, Oliver Sewell

2015 Bianca Andrew, Jarvis Dams, Isabella Moore, Madison Nonoa

2014 Christie Cook, Daniel O’Connor, Julien Van Mellaerts

2013 Moses Mackay, Polly Ott, Lucy Anderson (flautist)

2012 Carleen Ebbs, Claire Egan, Tavis Gravatt

2011 10th Anniversary concerts, Anna Leese, Kristin Darragh

2010 Hadleigh Adams, Anna Argyle, Cameron Barclay, Andrew Grenon, Polly Ott, Kirsten Simpson

2009 Julia Booth, Timua Brennan, Kirstin Sharpin

2008 Aivale Cole, Georgia Jamieson-Emms, Rachelle Pike, James Rodgers

2007 Stephen Chambers, Emma Fraser, Anna Leese

2006 James Armitage, Kate Lineham, Jaimee Marshall, Katherine Wiles

2005 Andrew Conley, Kristen Darragh, Jamie Frater, Ben Makisi

2004 Karyn Andreassend, Clarissa Dunn, Fernand Kenel, April-Marie Neho

2003 Timua Brennan, Anna Leese, Andrea Munro

2002 Lauren Armishaw, Jack Bourke, Andrea Creighton, Chris Goldsmith,


Villa in Tuscany and Parma, Lucca

26 September – 8? October 2020

  • Individual coaching with Maestro Wyn Davies
  • language lessons with top Italian teacher from nearby Siena
  • performance, Concert in the Villa, 1 or 2 October
  • other perfomances to be confirmed
  • Verdi Festival in Parma, Verdi places and opera at Teatro Regio, Puccini places in Lucca
  • introduction to Italian culture

FEE including most expenses NZ$5,000 approx.

A limited number of scholarships may be available for New Zealand singers for the course excluding airfare/transport to and from the meeting and departure points.

If travelling from New Zealand, singers must take time before or after the tour to do lessons, auditions, further training, or other related activities in Europe at their own expense.


This is a unique experience for opera lovers to be part of the artistic process and befriend talented young singers. Each group learns enormously from the other.

To join as a tourist see Venice, Verdi Festival in Parma, Villa in Tuscany and Lucca Tour

To apply, please please contact Patricia.


France September/October 2021

The success over several years of my school in Tuscany encouraged me to organise a similar school and concert in France to focus on French language, repertoire and culture.

Many opera singers have told me of their difficulties in singing in this language and how an intensive course would be of great value.

The masterclasses have been a great success. each morning French language lessons take place, and in the afterrnoon each participant receives individual coaching. The final concerts either in an 18th century theatre or church with audiences of over 300 people are followed by reception courtey of Maire of Uzes. The programme includes French opera arias and traditional Maori songs. the masterclasses have been supported by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation and the New Zeealand/France Friendship Fund.

“The opportunity to perform for French people in the French language was great. I was quite afraid they would think we were massacaring their language but they were unbelievably supportive and I was blown away by the friendly applause and positive and appreciative comments after the performance. I feel now that I will have more confidence in performing French repertoire.” (Claire Egan).


2014 James Ioelu, Rosel Labone, Moses Mackay, Polly Ott

2011 Aivale Cole, Polly Ott, Raynard Blampied, Wade Kernot

2009 Carleen Ebbs, Claire Egan, Timua Brennan

2007 Kristen Darragh, Anna Leese, Kirsten Simpson, Robert Tucker

To apply, please contact Patricia.