Italian at Eastman

Guido of Monaco codified modern Western music notation in Arezzo in the 11th century. Since Claudo Monteverdi’s Orpheus provided the first fully developed example of Baroque opera in 1607 Italian has been the language of opera.

The Humanities Department offers a comprehensive program of study in Italian language, diction, literature, cinema and culture. Italian Courses at Eastman include:

  • two-semester sequence of Elementary Italian (IT 101/102, 4 credits each)
  • two-semester sequence of Intermediate Italian (IT 111/112, 3 credits each)
  • one semester of Italian Lyric Diction (IT 115, 1 credit each)

All voice majors must take Italian Lyric Diction during their first year. This first diction course provides students with theoretical and applied knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet—an indispensable tool for their future careers and their future diction courses in German (second year), in French (third year), and in English (fourth year). Students learn how to apply IPA to the study of Italian Diction through a progressive method based on Italian reading and scioglilingua. They learn how to master proper Italian vowels, consonant clusters, and intonation in prose and poetry through written and oral assignments. This course is not a vocal performing course, but a comprehensive course focused on Italian Diction.

Many students have studied Italian in High School, have earned AP scores, or have spent time in Italy. If you already took Italian and are unsure about your language level, please contact Professor Elena Bellina ( to schedule a placement test and review your transcripts with her.  All students with prior study of or exposure to Italian must consult with their instructor in the first week of classes to assess proper placement. Students who fail to do so and are found to be overqualified for their chosen level may not receive credit for the course.

In addition, advanced Italian classes (fifth/sixth semester level) on a variety of topics will be regularly offered, including Conversations in Italian: Italian Comic Tradition, Italian through Cinema, Italian through Songs, and Italian through Theater. Furthermore, while Humanities electives in Italian Studies will be taught in English, students may enhance language and cultural skills by taking courses in Film Studies (Introduction to Italian Cinema, Italian Neorealism, Italian History through Cinema), in Italian Literature (Approaches to Italian Literature, Readings in Modern Italian Literature), in Italian Cultural Studies (Autobiographies of A Nation: How Italians Built Italy, Voices from Captivity: Self-Construction and Narrative Identities in Times of Constraint, A Geography of the Self: Eco-Subjects, Voices and Urban Identities in Modern Italy, Italian Risorgimento through Opera Libretti).

Students wishing to pursue a Minor or a Major in Italian may do so in conjunction with the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the College of Arts and Sciences/ River Campus. Students may choose to spend one semester, one year, or one summer in Arezzo (Italy) taking courses at the University of Siena contact Professor Donatella Stocchi-Perucchio and check with Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Abra Bush ( about exchange programs with music schools in Italy.

Scholarship funds or research programs are available for interested students though different institutions: