International Opera Performing Experience.
International Opera Performance Experience


The International Opera Performance Experience has a very special place in my heart. I have done multiple summer programs, but none has compared to my experience with IOPE.  First, the faculty is incredible.  They are top notch professionals who are passionate, love what they do, and create a safe and encouraging environment in which to explore freely.  The amount of one-on-one time with faculty members is awesome! I made leaps in my ability as both a singer and an actor.  Secondly, Mercatello is a fantastic place! It’s beautiful, and the people of Mercatello are the most generous I’ve ever met.  They were so hospitable, by the end of the program I truly felt part of their community.  They even let me walk in their parade.  When it was time to leave Mercatello, I did not want to go.  The whole experience, the singing, the lessons, the performances, the people, the food, and the community of Mercatello all made for one incredible summer!
Mark Thomsen, besides being an excellent singer and caring personality, is an experienced voice teacher who has the unique ability to diagnose each student’s voice strengths and weaknesses to bring about more confidence, change and improvement. I would definitely recommend Mark to anyone as a very competent voice teacher.
With its reputable faculty and frequent performance opportunities, IOPE is an enriching program for any young artist hoping to enhance their craft. In addition, being completely immersed in the language and culture, I was able to practice and improve my Italian in and outside of the classroom. IOPE was a truly rewarding experience giving me tools and insight into opera that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.
Italian Program Student, Mercatello
Mercatello sul Metauro is the ideal place to learn Italian and explore Italian culture. When I first arrived to Mercatello, I had very little knowledge of Italian. By the time I left, through both the intensive language courses and the friendly and patient locals, I was able to have full conversations in Italian! The ancient history in the town also provides a great background for those studying operas set in earlier time periods...the festivals, architecture, and museums give great insight into what Italy was in the past. - Former Participant
Jim Caraher is a great conductor to work with. He is both laid-back and patient, yet expects nothing less than professional-level of quality and preparedness. Working with Jim every day was not only a great educational experience; and it was also a fun one. I think Jim is the sort of rare conductor who can really work well with anyone, the young and old, students and professional; I would jump at a chance to sing with him again. - Former Participant
I really enjoyed the IOPE experience last summer. I loved working with Mr. Mark Thomsen and wish I could continue to study with him because there is so much more I could learn. We had more than the minimum number of voice lessons and coachings each week. Mr. James Caraher is a great conductor and very nice and patient when working with students. He taught me a great deal about music and working with a conductor. Mr. Jeff Mattsey, one of the best baritones in opera, gave us masterclasses in singing and staging every day. These were particularly valuable for the young singer! I felt very honored to sing a duet with Mr. Mark Thomsen and Mr. Jeff Mattsey in the final performance.
Taking lessons with Mark Thomsen was definitely one of the high points in my experience singing in Mercatello. Not only is he warm and friendly, he is also very wealthy with technical knowledge of singing to impart to students. In just a few lessons with Mark I felt myself improving and also learned many important concepts which I was able to take home and work on to improve my singing. It was also a great tool to watch Mark’s stage-craft and learn from him not only as a singer, but also an actor. -  Former Participant
Mr. Thomsen's extensive performance experience and artistic knowledge, enable him to effectively communicate the complexities of correct vocal technique, exceptional performance practice, and literature interpretation.  His ability to identify vocal faults and provide appropriate corrective technique has significantly increased my vocal proficiency.  He exudes genuine joy and optimism while challenging and encouraging his students to work on their vocal technique diligently and responsibly.  I highly recommend Mr. Thomsen as a voice teacher and coach to singers who desire to discover and experience their full vocal potential." -Dr. Michael Rodrigues, former Public School Music Teacher and Educational Administrator, Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Not only is it difficult to find a great voice teacher who can help you develop your skills to be able to sing Opera, but it is extremely rare to find a teacher who truly understands the voice when it gets damaged by over use. Mr. Thomsen's experience and knowledge was instrumental in the recovery of my voice after I came back from Singing in Macao for over a year, where my former employer expected unlimited hours of vocal performance, special events and rehearsals. I am very grateful to him for his patience, understanding and wisdom." -Marco Antonio Varela, Tenor
Italian Program Student, Mercatello
Staying in Mercatello was one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I have been to Italy 4 times and stayed all over when traveling the country but I have never found a place that encompassed the Italian spirit more than this town. I have been to other Italian singing programs where people left not knowing much more of the language than when they came, but in Mercatello you’re really forced to learn Italian. This is -of course- challenging at first, but I can’t believe how much my Italian improved, even my teachers from Italy back at school thought I was from an Italian family.
I've really enjoyed singing and training with LVT (La VOCE Totale, summer vocal festival in Las Vegas, NV, I was able to get my voice back to a good place after private lessons and coaching with both Mark & Luana. If you are a singer in Las Vegas, you should be a part of this experience!" -Soprano Shawna Singer
I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Claude at University of Hartford. I thought coming into the lesson that I was already a good vocalist but he always wanted something more. He didn't just want me to be a great singer, he wanted me to be a part of what I was singing. Claude helped to build up my vocal capabilities, my confidence, and to be open to change. Without that knowledge I probably would have given up my pursuit of a professional career but he only made me want it more.  Claude is a great teacher for an emerging professional singer with vast knowledge of stage performance time.
Mark Thomsen is a fantastic voice teacher who brings years of experience and a deep knowledge of technique and repertoire into his lessons, along with a great sense of humor. Whenever I worked with Mark, I always felt like I was in comfortable and safe environment, allowing me to grow and improve my skills without fear of being judged.  - Former Participant
Working with Jim Caraher is always both fruitful and enjoyable. Maestro Caraher's vast experience and knowledge allows him to help singers at all levels and his personality can put even the most anxious singer at ease. - Former Participant
After a very long break from singing, I went to Mark Thomsen to gain the confidence I needed to re-tune my voice. He put me at ease and gave me several great ideas how to deal with breathing problems and staying on key in my higher range. I was comfortable from the moment we met and I'm looking forward to a long relationship with him as my vocal teacher. His professionalism and kindness were greatly appreciated at the beginning when I needed it the most." -Kathleen Mosko
I had the pleasure of having Claude for my Vocal Seminar classes for two years.  During those two years, I saw my classmates and I benefit from his "out of the box" tactics.  He is able to get his students to come out of their shell by getting them to move, dance, and really communicate the meaning of the words. Claude makes communication the key aspect of music.  Too many teachers focus only on technique, but Claude gets his students to be more than that.  His funny and bright personality makes his students feel welcome as soon as they walk into the room instead of feeling intimidated to perform in front of others.
Maureen O'Flynn has been the most influential teacher I have had at the Hartt School.   She completely revolutionized the way I thought about singing.  It's incredible the amount of difference she has made in my life.  She not only made me understand how to sing better and how the body works together to create a resonant sound, but she made me feel good about myself.  In a career where people are constantly criticizing you, Maureen has a wonderful balance of making her students understand what they need to fix, but she also makes her students realize how much they have accomplished at the same time. Maureen has such a caring nature that she inspires her students to succeed.  The amount of progress I've made with her as my teacher in the last two years has been more than I could have imagined.  She is an absolutely phenomenal teacher and I believe that all voice types would benefit from her knowledge, experience, and warm teaching style.
I have been taking lessons with Claude Corbeil for the past seven years since I was thirteen years old. In that time, he has helped transform my voice into a mature, formidable instrument. His teaching style is built on the simplicity of the spoken word and how singing should be produced with your speaking technique; the difference that “speaking” the music produces still shocks me after seven years. The sound is fuller, more dynamic and easier to control. Mr. Corbeil gets you to access this sound by forcing you as the student to understand and effectively use your emotions to initiate and sustain the singing.  Claude's teaching has helped me to transform my voice and give me better understanding into who I am as a person by forcing me to access emotions and draw upon them in the performance setting.
The people in Mercatello are friendly and encouraging with conversation, and once you learn Italian well enough to converse you’ll find yourself making friends with its citizens left and right! To this day I still talk to the friends that I made in Mercatello!  - Former Participant