Georgian Heiress to Italian Maestro
22 September, 2011
Georgian Heiress to Italian Maestro

He is known in Italy and to the rest of the modern world under the honorable title of Grande Maestro Mario Melani. He has been around for quite a bit, but anybody would wish to be as young as he actually is both in spirit and body. God bless his heart and mind! It was his keen eye that noticed Nino Lezhava, the well-known Georgian opera singer, his absolute ear that captured the brilliance of her voice, his agile mind that

perceived her talent and his warm heart that felt a good human being in this wonderful young lady. Having gone through many vicissitudes of life, including the German concentration camp, Mario Melani is today happily residing on the throne of patriarch of Bel-Canto in the world; and streets in Italy are named after him. And this is in no way an accident – he was trained as a baritone by Arturo Melocchi – teacher of teachers of Italian Bel-Canto. Mario Del Monaco, Franco Corelli and Mario Melani were all his trainees. Those golden boys of Italy were co-students and good friends too. By the way, Maestro Melani has founded three vocal academies in his country of singing wonders, one of them being the Pesaro International Vocal Academy. As the fate would have it, Nino and Mario met and made a powerfully creative team, the most valuable consequence of which so far is Nino Lezhava’s designation as Art Director of the Pesaro Academy. Yes, the great Italian Maestro Mario Melani made a decision to entrust his beloved Academy to a Georgian talent Nino Lezhava and declared her his heiress. Wow! The news came like a bolt from the blue, reaching Georgia in no time and filling the newspapers immediately. Italians were shocked in earnest and Georgians were happily surprised. Nino was put in charge of the vocal academy, named after famous Renata Tebaldi and Mario Del Monaco. Maestro made a decision of lifetime, being absolutely confident that Nino Lezhava is the only musician and the only person who could take up and continue his school of singing, so special and indispensable today not only for Italy but the entire world of culture and spiritual life. The decision is final and irrevocable. What is left now is that Nino Lezhava has to become a deserving and dignified standard bearer for all the followers and adherents of Grande Maestro Mario Melani. This is not going to be easy at all – Rossini, La Scala, Melocchi, Callas, Tebaldi, Del Monaco, Corelli – these are the few names associated with the Great Maestro’s magical career, which needs to be kept up by the new art director of the Pesaro International Academy. Let us wish her good luck – she needs it now more than ever before. Following is the interview with Maestro Melani about Nino Lezhava, which the Georgian Journal correspondent managed to do, using the Internet capabilities. Maestro spoke with great interest and enthusiasm about Nino. She is his heiress after all!


GJ – How old is the international vocal academy of Pesaro?

MM – The Pesaro Academy, which was named after great Italian singers Reanata Tebaldi (the Pesaro native) and Mario Del Monaco, was founded in 2002, and we are going to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2012.

GJ – What was your motivation to found it?

MM – There was only one but unique and strong motivation: to make the art of Italian Bel-Canto available to as many talented people worldwide as possible.

GJ – How long is the longest teaching program? What about the shortest?

MM – The regular academic course lasts only 2 years. We also practice the so called master classes, the duration of which depends on students’ desires and goals.

GJ – How many people graduate every year?

MM – We admit from 40 to 50 students annually although our academy has a capacity of enrolling more candidates depending on the number of applications.

GJ – Who are the most famous graduates of the academy?

MM – Keeping in mind my 60 years of pedagogical experience, all the names of well-known graduates will take us too far. On top of my head, I could give you the names like Carlo Cossutta, Luis Lima, Gian Piero Mastromei, Nidda Hofmann, Jose Crew, Gheorghe Kristian Johannsson, and Georgians  Tamar Alibegashvili and Alla Simonishvili.

GJ – Are you the founder of the Academy?

MM – Yes, I am the founder of ACADEMIA INTERNAZIONAL DI PESARO, and not only that. I have also founded ACCADEMIA D’ARTE LIRICA E CHORALE CITTA DI OSIMO and ACCADEMIA DEL TEATRO CITTA DI CAGLI. I am also one of the founders of the Rossini International Festival. By the way, the great Rossini is also the native of Pesaro.

GJ – Is this academy your own property or a national property?

MM – Yes, I own the Academy, but the state of Italy is taking a good care of it too.

GJ – What was your main reason to appoint Nino Lezhava the art director?

MM – Nino is a real discovery for me. She is a genuine talent and a very valuable new asset to our Academy. If I start, I will never stop talking about her as of a singer, artist and person. She is adorable and deserves every bit of respect I have for her.

GJ – Have you really designated Nino Lezhava as heiress to be?

MM – Nino is the heiress to my school of singing. She has truly mastered the ABC of my methodology and the fundamentals of my teaching technique. I can tell you straightforward that she is a successor of my professional way.

GJ – Why do you think she deserves to be your heiress and successor?

MM – She has got every good quality – human and professional – that I am looking for in a person and co-worker. She is simply ready for the job.

GJ – Have you ever been to Georgia – the country where Nino comes from originally?

MM – I am very often talking to God, asking the question: ‘Could I stick around for a while – I still have to do so much here!’ You know what I usually hear from him? – ‘Yes, but let’s not overdo it!’ I certainly would love to go and visit. Let’s wait and see! I know that Nino’s motherland is a beautiful country which has a very long and interesting history. Georgians are endowed with wonderful voices and amazing musicality. Georgia is probably the same way. . .

GJ – Would you like to travel and see where Nino comes from and say hello to her family?

MM – I recently had a chance to go to Georgia, but I could not because I had to be in Spain for the competition of vocalists. I am still looking forward to visiting Tbilisi and saying hello to Nino’s parents. And not only that! I have heard and read a lot about Georgia. Speaking about traveling abroad, I was in Kazakhstan a year ago whose president honored my book ‘Parliamo un po di canto’, with an award of first degree for its significant contribution to culture. It was published in Italian and Russian languages and was given gratis to various universities, conservatories and music academies. Notably, I have turned out to be the first foreign recipient of that prize.

GJ – How did your Italian colleagues and students react to the big news about Nino Lezhava?

MM – There are both benevolent and malevolent reactions. I think this is normal for a human being, but I believe that there is more benevolence than not. Nino is loved here for her talent and not just that – she easily charms people with her sociable and amiable disposition and good manners.

GJ – Are they being jealous?

MM – Jealous or not, Nino is enjoying a huge love of our community.

GJ – Will Nino be safe at the post of the head of the Academy after you retire?

MM – I cannot be more certain. She definitely will.

GJ – What is your opinion of Nino as of a singer?

MM – She possesses incomparably beautiful voice with an outstanding potential. Her musicality allows her to interpret a piece in her own way. This is a rare capability. I truly hope that this Academy will be in very reliable hands in the future.

GJ – Do you think the Italian people will embrace Nino and take her as their own some day?

MM – I have not an iota of doubt about it.

GJ – What is your best wish for Nino Lezhava?

MM – One of my wishes for her has already come true. As I said, Nino has a limitless talent, so my wishes are just as unrestricted for her.

Pesaro is a town and commune in the Italian region of the Marche (North-East), capital of the Pesaro e Urbino province, on the Adriatic Sea with the population of little less then 100 thousand people, which tenderly harbors this wonderful Academy of operatic singing where Mario Melani is an illustrious teacher of the art of opera and Nino Lezhava is the Art Director. The Academy is headed and managed by its dedicated President Luca Bartolucci without whose loving efforts the Academy could never have been as successful as it is now. Being in love with opera, this well-connected Italian politician is doing his absolute best to keep up the prestige and functionality of the Academy at the highest possible level.

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