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ABOUT US | Scuola Internazionale di Teatro Italiano "Giovanni Grasso"

About us

Our Staff
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Marco Piana

Lecturer in Italian language and culture at McGill University

He graduated in Literature and Philosophy at the University of Genoa with a focus on Latin and Romance philology, and has a degree in Italian language and culture acquisition from the University for Foreigners of Perugia, with more than ten years of teaching experience in Italy, Australia and Canada. He has been awarded one McGill GREAT Award, two McCall MacBain Fellowship Prizes for outstanding teaching skills, and five McGill Graduate Excellence Awards. He also won several literature prizes, including the national prize for poetry Superba in 1999, the national prize for literature Cercatalenti in 2007, and the national prize Giugno in Arte – Poesia in 2011.

Valerio Vittorio Garaffa

Director, actor and Acting teacher

He graduated from the School of Dramatic Arts Paolo Grassi in Milan in 2007 and completed his training at the Laboratorio Teatrale Santa Cristina, directed by Luca Ronconi. He studied Italian poetry and Lectura Dantis with Paul Giuranna and Orazio Costa’s mimic method with Alessandra Niccolini. He worked as an actor in “Odissea, doppio ritorno” (B. Strauss) directed by Luca Ronconi, “Benvenuti in California” (Francesca Angeli) directed by Marco Plini, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (W. Shakespeare) directed by Alessandro Fabrizi. His experiences as director include “Oscillazioni” of Vitaliano Trevisan, “Cymbeline” by W. Shakespeare (which he also edited and translated, publication in process), “The Bacchae” by Euripides, “The Assemblywomen” by Aristophanes, “Don Quixote” based on the novel of Miguel de Cervantes. In 2011, together with Chiara Cimmino-Sander, he founded the theater company Teatro del Disìo.

Chiara Cimmino-Sander

Actress and Acting teacher

She graduated from the School of Dramatic Arts Paolo Grassi in Milan in 2007. She has worked in Cinema (Il grande sogno, by Michele Placido), TV (Rossella, RAI) and theater (classical theater: Ostrovsky, Muller, Chekhov, Marivaux, Shakespeare; contemporary theater and research; comedy; children’s theater). In 2005 she won the Award for Best Supporting Actress at the theater Palio of Chiavari, and in 2007 she performed in “Ubu re” by A. Jarry, directed by L. Facchinelli, winner of the Premio internazionale F. Piccoli. In 2014 she starred in the female lead of the film “Rimbalzello” by N. Gharbi, winner of the Special Jury Prize at Maazzeni Film Festival in Sicily. In 2011, together with Vittorio Valerio Garaffa, she founded the theatre company Teatro del Disìo.

Our partners - 2018

Daniele Agiman

Conductor and Music Director

Daniele Agiman is one of the most active and recognized Italian conductors in the world.

He is a regular guest of the most prestigious operatic institutions of the globe, including Japan and South Korea. He also directed in Argentina, South Africa, France, Germany, Romania, Switzerland, Georgia, Russia; in December 1992 he made his debut at the Vienna Konzerthaus and at the Brucknerhaus in Linz, under the invitation of the Wiener Kammerorchester.

Winner of the 1999 National Competition of the Italian Ministry of Education, he has held the chair of Orchestral Conducting at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Milan ever since.

Since March 2007 he is also Honorary Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Kurashiki Sakuyo University in Japan. He is frequently invited by Italian and international Universities (Bologna, Ancona, Teramo, Roma Tre, University of Milan, the Korean University of Art and Chung Ang University of Seoul), cultural associations, and research centers (Stresa Network, Società Gruppo-Analitica Italiana, ISMO) as Visiting Professor.

His most significant productions include:

• Gianni Schicchi and Cavalleria Rusticana at the State Theater of Taegu (South Korea) on the occasion of the twinning between the cities of Milan and Taegu;

• Lucia di Lammermoor in Seoul at the Sejong Opera Festival on the occasion of the A.S.E.M. (Asia–Europe Meeting);

• La Traviata at the Centennial Hall in Nara (Japan).

Together with his international career, Daniele Agiman is also deeply involved in the production of some of the most important Italian orchestras (Orchestra della Toscana, Pomeriggi Musicali, Filarmonica Marchigiana, Sinfonica Abruzzese, Solisti Aquilani, etc.) and theaters (Teatro Regio of Turin, Teatro delle Muse of Ancona, Comunale di Modena, Lauro Rossi of Macerata, Teatro Lirico of Cagliari, Pergolesi di Jesi, Municipal Theaters of Belluno, Corridonia, and Taranto on the occasion of the respective re-openings). He is also involved in the organization of many of the most prestigious seasonal concerts in Italy (among which we find Tosca for the Como Opera Season, Puccini’s Messa di gloria for the summer season of Macerata, and Madama Butterfly for the Festival of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento).

Lately, he has been particularly involved in the discovery and dissemination of contemporary classical music, directing, among other things, many creations of new Italian composers.

His current and past official positions include:

• Artistic and Musical Director of “I Madrigalisti Ambrosiani” in the years 1995/1996

• Music Director of the Fall Opera Season of the Palazzo dei Congressi in Lugano in the years 1995/1998 (Boheme, Barbiere di Siviglia, Traviata, Rigoletto)

• Artistic Director of the Opera Atelier of the Music Conservatory “G. Verdi “in Milan in the years 2000/2002

• Principal Conductor of the Orchestra Benedetto Marcello of Teramo from 2000 to 2005

• Artistic consultant for the Italian Opera of the State Theater of Taegu (South Korea) and Kyushu City Opera (Japan) since 1995

• Music Director for the orchestral productions of the Associazione “Ab Harmoniae”

• Music Director and Artistic Consultant for the operatic projects of the “Pergine Spettacolo Aperto” Festival (Madame Butterfly, Boheme, Traviata, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto)

• Principal Guest Conductor of the Shizuoka Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2009

• Principal Conductor of the G. Rossini Symphony Orchestra of Pesaro since 2009

Anna Maria Popescu

Mezzo soprano and professor of voice and Italian diction

Upon completion of her studies at McGill University, the Academy of Vocal Arts and the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, Annamaria Popescu embarked on a distinguished career with roles including Olga in Eugene Onegin and Suzuki in Madame Butterfly throughout Europe and North America. Most notably, she is the Canadian singer who has sung most often at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan with over 100 performances having made her debut in Les Troyens by Berlioz in 1996. Other highlights include concert repertoire in Europe and Asia with the London Symphony Orchestra to our very own Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, in repertoire ranging from works by Sir Michael Tippett’s Mask of Time to Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. She has also worked extensively on the recital stage with Michael McMahon and Esther Gonthier. Since 2010, Annamaria Popescu has been lecturing at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University as assistant professor of voice and Italian diction.

Esther Gonthier

Pianist and vocal coach

Esther Gonthier is recognized as one of the most versatile and sought-after pianists in Canada. During the last 30 years, she pursued a very active career both as a pianist-rehearsalist, vocalist, and concert performer. Due to her vast knowledge of the operatic repertoire, she worked on more than 130 operas to date, positioning herself as one of the most recognized experts in the world of Opera. She is regularly invited as a pianist-rehearsalist by the Opéra de Montréal, the Canadian Opera Company, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, the Opéra de Québec, the Lanaudière Festival, and the Orchestre Métropolitain, among others. She has assisted great conductors such as Jean-Claude Casadesus, Rafael Frübeck of Burgos, Eliahu Inbal, Michel Plasson, Charles Dutoit, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jacques Lacombe, and Kent Nagano. As a concert performer, she has been invited several times by the Grands Ballets Canadiens Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. During her concerts, she accompanied high-caliber soloists such as Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Susan Platts, Nathalie Paulin, and Lyne Fortin, not to mention her work as a rehearsal coach with such prestigious names as José Van Dam, Kiri Te Kanawa, Federica Von Stade, and Nancy Argenta. She is also the main coach of many promising singers from the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, and other Universities all over the world.

John Mac Master

Tenor, voice professor, adjudicator and clinician

Canadian tenor John Mac Master has performed the most demanding roles of the dramatic repertoire the world over: Cavaradossi (Tosca), Canio (Pagliacci), Otello, Manrico (Trovatore), Calaf (Turandot), Peter Grimes, Florestan (Fidelio), Tristan, Erik (Fliegende Holländer), Bacchus (Ariadne auf Naxos), have been his calling cards at the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra Nationale de Paris, Vienna Volksoper; for the Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam, in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Dresden, Barcelona, Melbourne, Singapore, Seoul, Beijing; for San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Australia, all over the United States, and with every major symphony orchestra and opera company in Canada. He has performed with many of the greatest conductors of our time including Sir Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Sir Charles Mackerras, Richard Hickox, James Levine, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniel Harding, Mario Bernardi, Bramwell Tovey, Valery Gergiev and Robert Spano. In particular he  has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Montreal’s L’Orchestre Métropolitain and L’Opéra de Montréal. On the concert stage, he has been engaged for Beethoven Symphony No 9, Verdi Requiem, Orff Carmina Burana, Mahler’s Symphony No 8 and Das Lied von der Erde on countless occasions, but also for Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass, Schoenberg Gurrelieder, and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. His recordings include Beethoven Fidelio and Symphony No. 9 with the London Symphony Orchestra (UK); von Weber’s Euryanthe with the Polish Radio Orchestra; Love for Three Oranges on Chandos; the world premiere recording of Langgarrd’s Antikrist (Danachord) and Handel’s Berenice on the Newport Classic label. Appointed Assistant Professor in The Schulich School of Music at McGill University in 2016, and named Associate Dean (Academic & Student Affairs) in 2017, he taught previously at Western University in London ON, and is committed to sharing his knowledge and love for this great art with a new generation of performers and scholars.

Giancarlo Scalia

Pianist, vocal coach and composer

Born in Montreal, Giancarlo Scalia is very active as a pianist, vocal coach and composer. He has served as musical director or répétiteur for various companies including Opéra bouffe du Québec, Opéra immédiat, Light Opera of Montreal, Opéra Outside the Box and the Halifax Summer Opera Festival as well as at the École de musique Vincent d’Indy. He has performed throughout Canada, France, Austria, Germany, Italy and China and he studied piano performance under the direction of Jimmy Brière and Marc Durand and composition under the direction of Denis Gougeon from the Université de Montréal before pursuing his studies privately with pianists Walter Moore and Norman Shetler in Vienna and Claude Webster in Montréal.

Denise Agiman

Director, Acting teacher and drama therapist

Born in Milan and living in Montreal since 1985, Denise holds a master in creative arts therapies, a master in drama and a Ph.D in Performing Arts.   She also trained in psychodrama, sandplay therapy and psychotherapy.

She has been invited to some local and international conferences in Europe and in North and Central America, and following her works on the cross-cultural relationships in theater, she won the IFTR-International Federation for Theater Research Award. During the last 10 years , she has been working as  drama therapist, psychotherapist and  psycho dramatist with children and adults  by using the theatre and the arts for a therapeutic and social purpose.  Presently,   she teaches theatre history, acting and commedia dell’arte at Université de Montreal and McGill University.  For the last 30 years, she has been fully involved in the artistic and mass-media field.  She produced and host some TV shows at CFCF TV 12 and CABLE 24  and a weekly show at the International Radio of Montréal. In 1991, she cofounded the Troupe Tealtro for which  she produced  three Canadian tours, wrote four plays, organised  some workshops for actors and  directed more than 50 performances at the Centaur Theater, La Licorne, Quat’Sous, etc. of plays by  Ionesco, Shakespeare,  Machiavelli, Pirandello, Goldoni,  Molière, Nelligan, Danis,  Baricco, Kundera, Benni, Pinter, Tremblay and Fo.

Claudio Pozzani

Poet, narrator and musician

Claudio Pozzani was born in 1961 in Genoa (Italy).

His poems have been translated and published into more than 10 languages and have appeared in important anthologies and magazines of international contemporary poetry.

Since 1995 Pozzani is the director of  the Genoa International Poetry Festival in Italy and he has created and organized several poetry events in Belgium, France, Japan, Finland, Germany.

He is also the director of the House of Poetry in Genoa, with over than 120 free events every year.

His last CD (poetry and music) “La Marcia dell’ombra”, has been in the top 20 of the Italian independent radio charts.

His last books are: “L’orlo del fastidio”, essay, (Liberodiscrivere, 2017) and “Spalancati spazi – Poesie 1995-2016” (Passigli, 2017).

Teatro del Disìo

Teatro del Disìo is an Italian theatre company founded in 2011 by Valerio Vittorio Garaffa and Chiara Cimmino Sander. The company’s mission is to lead actors and audiences on a journey of rediscovery to a new appreciation of Italian theatre and Italian poetry. They hold classes and workshops on Commedia dell’Arte and Masks, Italian Theatre (Ariosto, Machiavelli, Alberti, Alfieri, Pirandello…), Dante’s ‘Divina Commedia’.

Istituto Italiano di Cultura - Montreal

The Italian Institute of Culture in Montreal, an official body of the Italian government, has as its aim the promotion of Italian language and culture in Quebec through the organisation of cultural events. In occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Luigi Pirandello, the Institute is proud to host the International School for Italian Theatre “Giovanni Grasso”, Workshop 2017.