LATROBE, PA – Saint Vincent College junior Justin Massetto has been accepted to attend the prestigious International Opera Academy in Bologna, Italy, from July 13-28.
He earned admission into the prestigious Academy through a competitive audition process and was subsequently awarded a merit-based scholarship for attendance.
“The audition process was simple for the most part,” said Massetto. “I had to submit a recording of an aria – I chose one in Italian – along with my resumé and a repertoire list to show my range of knowledge.
“After that, it was just a waiting game to see if I was accepted, which I was, with scholarship!”
At the Academy, Massetto will participate in master classes every day, while receiving one-on-one coaching from world class vocal coaches in the opera field and receiving vocal lessons and studying stage craft with opera directors from around the world. The two-week Academy will wrap up with a two-day showcase in which each student will perform arias at the Saia Caracci in Palazzo Magnani, a 15th century palace in Bologna, and at the Sala Bossi in the Conservatorio Giovani Battista Martini, a college of music in Bologna established in 1804.
The intensive-two-week program is taught by a faculty and staff comprised of internationally renowned vocal coaches, singers, directors and conductors from around the globe and annually attracts a high-achieving group of students representing nearly every continent.
“This is a significant opportunity and achievement for Justin in his vocal development and career,” said Thomas Octave, chair of the Saint Vincent Department of Fine Arts and associate professor of music. “His hard work and dedication to the study of music and the vocal arts, his willing-to-learn personality and his desire to share his talent with others have really allowed Justin to stand out.”
In applying and gaining admission into the Bologna Opera Academy, Massetto follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Anthony, a 2019 SVC graduate, who took part in the academy in the summer of 2018.
“I wanted to seek a spot in the Academy following my brother’s attendance in 2018,” he said. “I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some singers who previously attended, and it is an amazing opportunity. Anthony has most definitely helped me understand what to expect. He gave me some advice during the audition process, and he’s also told me all about what I should expect and what kinds of arias I should focus on going into the Academy.”
Massetto was first inspired to begin singing by his brother and while he is a fan of all genres of music, he credits SVC vocal coach Susanna Lemberskaya for his gravitating toward opera.
“We have an amazing vocal coach here who has worked in the opera field professionally,” he said, “and she sparked my interest in opera. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite genre, but I am drawn more toward older styles of music, so opera is definitely near the top of my list.”
Along with singing, Massetto is also a theater enthusiast and has had prominent roles in a number of Saint Vincent College Players’ productions throughout his first five semesters at SVC, including "Objection! Disorder in the Court!," "Into the Woods," “Play On!" and “Damn Yankees."
On top of his busy singing and acting schedule, Massetto has had to balance a rigorous course load that comes with the territory of having a major and three minors. Though it may appear to be a juggling act, he feels that his mathematics and computer science studies are complimentary of his music and theater education.
“It’s definitely been a challenge to constantly switch the way you think, as the sciences and music are very different,” he said. “But, it’s also really interesting because I actually look at music in a more unique way than most other musicians. I have a more mathematical approach, which I have found is not as common. I actually entered into Saint Vincent as a double major in vocal performance and computer science, but decided that I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than music. I dropped to a computer science minor my sophomore year and then picked up mathematics and sacred music to fill out my curriculum a little more.”
With such a hectic schedule and wide range of extracurricular interests, Massetto has fully embraced the liberal arts experience at Saint Vincent with open arms and is grateful to the SVC faculty for its support.
“I would say that one of the best things anyone could do is attend a liberal arts school, especially Saint Vincent. When you’re pursuing different fields at the same time, it’s best that you have overlap between the two, so they aren’t two different parts of your life. What’s amazing about Saint Vincent is that the faculty is so interested in what you’re doing. It’s very common for teachers to make parallels to your other field of study while they are teaching, and this helps tremendously with connecting both sides of your studies.”
Massetto has thrived in his computer science and mathematics courses, earning regular selection to the College’s Dean’s List throughout his tenure at Saint Vincent. However, music remains his passion, and he hopes that it helps him achieve his ultimate goal of giving back to his alma mater.
“Right now, I am planning to pursue a master’s degree in vocal performance,” he said. “I will be applying and auditioning for graduate programs throughout my senior year. Following that, I hope to keep performing, but my absolute goal is to teach at a college.
“I would love to give back to Saint Vincent in that way at some point, but I’ll see where God leads me!”
PHOTO: Justin Massetto