CVAI is in residence at the University of Montréal


The Canadian Vocal Arts Institute was established in February 2004 by a group of people who care deeply about the emerging careers of our young opera singers and the standing of Montréal on the international vocal arts scene. The main objective of the Institute is to hold annually in Montréal an international training program for talented young singers eager to perfect their art. The first edition took place in June 2004.

This program is made possible through the cooperation of the International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI), the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers and the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal. From Monday, July 23 to Friday, August 10, the University will be host to more than twenty renewed teachers and fifty four young singers, and welcomes for the first year CVAI in residency.

Led by Joan Dornemann, assistant conductor and coach at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI) holds opera training sessions throughout the world, including Israel, the United States, China, Japan, Mexico and Italy.


The idea of holding this program in Montréal came for Faigie Zimmerman, president of the Israel Vocal Arts Institute, a Montréal native who now lives in Tel Aviv, and Denise Massé, a world-renowned accompanist and coach. The establishment of the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute has been made possible by the vision and resolve of its two founders: Roni Blanshay, a Montréal business woman, and Margot Provencher, director of the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers. The Institute would not have seen the light of day if not for their hard work and conviction that Montréal needed to host such a great musical training initiative. To them, joined for a few years Mr. Richard Turp, artistic director of the André-Turp Musical Society.

The project received an enthusiastic endorsement from Jacqueline Desmarais who agreed to be its Honorary President. Sophie Desmarais, Julia Reitman, and businessmen and patrons David B. Sela (COPAP Inc.), Dr. Hans Black and Bernard Stotland, FCA (MNP-WSBG) were also quickly brought on board. With the implication of the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal, the project received a further significant contribution since the beginning.


The Canadian Vocal Arts Institute is a three week intensive program providing privatevoice lessons, private coaching, and training in vocal technique,stage presentation and acting, language and diction, as well as opportunities to sing in masterclasses.This program is open to singers in all stages of development and will be tailored to their individual needs. All young artists selected for CVAI will gain valuable onstage experience, hone their auditioning and performance skills, and increase their knowledge of the business aspects of a singing career. CVAI is codirected by Metropolitan Opera coach Joan Dornemann and MET conductor Paul Nadler. CVAI is presented in collaboration with Université de Montréal Music Faculty.

Encounters between singers and teachers are most meaningful in the early stages of a career. Public events bring to light many fascinating aspects of the training of young singers, whose discipline is often compared to that of Olympic athletes. For three weeks, young singers, graduate or postgraduate students at major institutions or young professionals, will receive six hours of daily training through individual and group sessions.

All participants will take part in:

  • Public audition on the first day
  • Private voice lessons
  • Private coaching
  • Operatic repertoire coaching
  • Language coaching
  • Acting lessons, movement, stage craft
  • Recital and opera scenes performances
  • Opportunity to sing in masterclasses
  • Closing gala concert

A typical day in the CVAI Program:

  • 10 AM - Chorus
  • 11 AM - Ensemble rehearsals
  • Noon - Lunch
  • 1 PM - Private voice lesson
  • 2 PM - Operatic repertoire coaching
  • 3 PM - Rehearsal with accompanist
  • 4 PM - Language coaching
  • 7:30 PM -Masterclass, recital or concert


The singers wishing to attend the sessions must demonstrate the vocal, technical and musical excellence that is required to take full advantage of the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute program. The sessions are offered to advanced students and young professionals who have shown genuine potential for a singing career. For these sessions, singers were selected after auditions held in New York City and Montréal. The jury was made up of professionals from the field, all recognized for their vocal expertise.


Scholarships and merit-based grants,based upon the auditions, will be awarded to qualified singers enrolled in the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute summer program. The Joan Dornemann Scholarship is awarded to one participant currently studying at the Faculty of Music of Université de Montréal, who demonstrates outstanding musical artistry during the audition.