Studying in Modena

Modena and its opera tradition

Modena and its opera tradition, derived from a long history with roots in the area’s folk culture, are located with the Region with the highest concentration of Opera Houses in the world. The land where Mozart and Rossini learnt their craft, birthplace of composers and performers who have written the history of opera, from Giuseppe Verdi to Arturo Toscanini, maintains and cultivates a vitality which combines the ability to stage productions of international standard with the teaching of Conservatories and Institutes of Music which attract thousands of students from all over the world. In the heart of this rich musical fabric, with its blend of opera training and production, Modena is the city of Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov and Raina Kabaivanska, now a place of learning for hundreds of singers, who have the opportunity to cultivate their talents before making their way onto the stages of the world’s most prestigious theatres. This is the context of two opera production and teaching institutions of true excellence: Teatro Comunale in Modena, one of Italy’s leading traditional opera houses, and the Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali “O. Vecchi – A. Tonelli”.


Mirella Freni

Mirella Freni was born in Modena on 27 February 1935. After a short but significant career as an operatic infant prodigy and five years of hard study under the guidance of Luigi Bertazzoni and Ettore Campogalliani, at the age of nineteen Mirella Freni made her debut as Micaela in Carmen by George Bizet at the Teatro Comunale in Modena on 3 February 1955. (read more)

Mirella Freni
Raina Kabaivanska

Raina Kabaivanska

Raina Kabaivanska is one of the leading opera singers of our age. Born in Burgas (Bulgaria) on 15 December 1934, she graduated in voice and piano from Sofia Conservatory and in 1957 made her debut at the Bulgarian National Opera in the same city in Eugene Onegin by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In 1958 she won a Bulgarian government scholarship to study singing in Italy, where she studied under Ziga Fumagalli Riva. In 1959 she made her debut in Il Tabarro by Giacomo Puccini in Vercelli. (read more)

Maria Costanza Nocentini

Born in Florence, the soprano Maria Costanza Nocentini studied with Suzanne Danco and graduated with honors and laude from the Conservatory of Bologna. As part of the Mozart-Da Ponte project directed by M ° Claudio Desderi, she made her debut as Despina in Cosi ‘fan tutte, as Susanna in Nozze di Figaro and as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, works performed in Italy and abroad.  (read more)


Fondazione Teatro Comunale di Modena has a 15-year history of the staging of opera productions that are intended to offer young singers a gateway to a professional career and mark the completion of intensive coaching courses. The Theatre has constantly included singers trained at Modena’s top voice schools, coached by Raina Kabaivanska and Mirella Freni, in its productions, and has hosted or produced a large number of operas to feature young singers. (read more)

Singers who have studied in Modena

Singers who have studied in Modena Over recent years, Modena has become a major international centre for young people hoping to make a career in opera. Thanks to its musical tradition and the attraction of great names such as Pavarotti, Freni and Kabaivanska, Modena is the ideal place for anyone wishing to perfect their vocal and stagecraft technique. Many of Mirella Freni’s and Raina Kabaivanska’s students are now established singers, appearing at the world’s top theatres. Here we offer you the biographies of some of them. (read more)