Steamboat Springs Keaton Covillo, a 2005 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, is on the verge of realizing his childhood dream - singing opera in Italy.
Covillo, a junior at the University of Denver, was accepted into the International Institute of Vocal Arts for a four-week residency this summer in Chiari, Italy. The vocal program accepts only 40 to 50 singers each summer. It provides students with at least two voice lessons and three coaching sessions each week.
"Italian opera is probably the most prestigious in the world, along with German and French," Covillo said. "To study in what is essentially the heart of opera is very exciting."
Covillo said he still is new to opera, having begun his opera training as a freshman at the University of Denver, which offered him an $88,000 scholarship.
"Most recently my voice has taken a turn for the operatic tone," said Covillo, who focused on musical theater while a student in Steamboat Springs. "My opera voice has started to come in, so I figured I would explore that since that's where my voice is heading."
The Institute's summer repertoire includes Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, some baroque repertoire, and some sacred music, according to William Woodruf, the school's artistic director.
Karen Covillo, Keaton's mother, said her son has displayed a gift of singing since he was a youngster running around the house, belting out ballads.
"He's been working hard at it since he's been very little," she said. "It's no surprise he has been accepted into this prestigious program."
Keaton Covillo, who is majoring in music with a specialty in vocal performance, said he expects the four-week program to be grueling.
"Singing may be a gift you are born with, but then you have to do all the work," he said.
For those who can't visit Italy to hear Covillo sing this summer, he will present a solo performance at 7:30 p.m. March 29 in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver.
Karen Covillo said she is excited to see her son sing in Denver, but she has already circled a date on her calendar this summer to visit Italy.
"I mean, how often do you get to see your kid sing opera in Italy?" she said.