Online summer school

The country of “belcanto”

The language of the opera from the text to the stage

For the year 2023 the ICoN Consortium will organize a completely online summer school, dedicated to the language of the opera.

For two weeks the participants will travel through the language of melodrama, alternating synchronous lessons (together with expert teachers) and asynchronous activities to perform on the platform, managed by a tutor.

Enrollments are open until 6 April 2023.

Il Paese del Belcanto - Summer school


Throughout the Renaissance, Italian has established itself as a truly European language of culture because of the Petrarchan tradition of love lyrics. Just like most courtly poetry of the period, even Shakespeare’s sonnets follow several schemes and stereotypes of “Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta”, the masterpiece by Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374). At the end of the 16th century, with the birth of Italian melodrama pioneered by the likes of Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), Italian rapidly became a language widely used by European courtiers and aristocrats, and operatic plays – whether of sacred or lay inspiration, Classical or Medieval – adopted it for their librettos when they were more and more often performed in courtly contexts, especially to mark special occasions (Carnival, weddings, victories, coronations and so forth). Italian was, more often than not, the language of such “belcanto”, and it rapidly became customary for high-class people to study it and use it for lofty conversation (if not for epistolaries).

In 17th-century England, for example, John Florio and Giovanni Torriano wrote dictionaries and grammars that became best sellers.

By combining a focus an text / language, history of music and actual performances in various theaters, this summer school will attempt to draw an outline of the various stages in which operatic theatre was developed in Europe, in association with the rapid spread of Petrarchism in the language and style of librettos that were set to music.

  • Italian literature, history of the language, stylistics and metrics
  • History of music, voices of melodrama, opera librettos
  • Guided listening activities, the context of some famous arias

The total amount of lesson hours is 24 hours, of which 16 in asynchronous and 6 in synchronous. At the end of the lessons there will be final tests.

The teachers of the course will be prof. Michelangelo Zaccarello, professor of Italian Philology at the University of Pisa and prof. Alessandro Cecchi, researcher of History of Music at the University of Pisa.

Two weeks of lessons from 10 to 21 July, 2023.

The summer school will be entirely online, with synchronous lessons on the MEET platform and asynchronous activities. Students will be enrolled in a virtual class on the ICoN learning platform and followed by a tutor; interaction with him/her will take place within the forum. The teaching materials of the course will be available directly on the platform.

The summer school will be held in Italian, although it will be possible to interact in English with tutors and teachers.

The summer school is designed for anyone interested in the Italian language and culture, especially opera and melodrama. To participate, a B1-Intermediate level of Italian in reception (Common European Framework) and a basic knowledge of English are required.

The cost of the summer school is €480 (VAT included). Enrollments will remain open until 6 April 2023. Those students who want to enroll in the school can fill out the form on this page, indicating the requested data. The registration will be registered by the system. Within a week you will have to pay a deposit of € 100, by credit card (addressing or by a bank transfer, using these data:

Current account in the name of the “Consorzio ICoN”
Banca di Pisa e Fornacette, fil. di Calcinaia (PI)
IBAN Code: IT35X0856270911000000088438

The total amount must be paid by May 31st. The advance payment will be returned to the two students who will be drawn for the scholarships. For further information, all the interested students can write to

(*) The Summer school will be activated upon reaching the number of 20 students.