Cabaret Performance Returns to Venice!

DATES: 10/14/2023 - 10/21/2023
PRICE: $2,895.00

Over a period of two decades, Helen Baldassare has trod the boards of off-Broadway, regional theatre, summer stock, supper clubs and cabarets, in the US and abroad. Along the way, she has garnered numerous awards and honors.  Most recently Helen was a recipient of a 2009 Night Life Award.  New York cabaret audiences have seen her at the original Duplex, Don`t Tell Mama, The Park Ten, Caroline`s Comedy Club, Eighty Eight`s and Rose`s Turn, as well as at the Cabaret Convention at The Town Hall and at Lincoln Center as part of the Meet The Artists series.Ms. Baldassare has taken her one-woman show from Salem, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts; she received critical acclaim at the Cairo Sheraton in Egypt; and she is currently a featured guest artist at the annual Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.

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Off-Broadway, she was an original cast member of the phenomenon known as Nunsense portraying nearly every role in New York, Florida and Washington, D.C. Over a span of several years she shared the stage with Kaye Ballard, Peggy Cass and Jaye P. Morgan. A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Ms. Baldassare returned to her alma mater in 1996 to direct the musical production Once Upon A Mattress. She earned an M.F.A. degree from the University of Utah and currently sits on the faculties of The New School University and the Turtle Bay Music School, both in New York City. She has directed numerous cabaret acts and often serves as a consultant and private coach.  This will be her 7th season with Il Chiostro. I really appreciated how you can bring out the best in each individual person and how you care about people. Thank you for sharing yourself and your talent with me.  – A student. – See more at:

Learn to tell your story through song!

This will be a very special program indeed!

We’ve been offering this unique and personal music workshop in Italy since 2001.  Our one-week intensive singing program has been such a special time for all those who have participated over the years.  This season will be even more special…a week of making music and new friends while sharing marvelous food and wine – all in the fascinating, mysterious, inspiring city of Venice!
[Note about the photographs:  all black and white images are by Helane Blumfield  from 2019 workshop, all rights reserved,]

During this annual week of music in Italy, the singer (and the person) become revitalized.  Italy does that to you.  Discover a new freedom in your singing and a new awareness of what really matters – in your music and in your life.
We will be staying in an ex-convent in the Dorsoduro sector of Venice within walking distance of all the sights.  This is the city where Vivaldi composed his glorious music and where the canals still ring with the songs of the gondoliers (and occasionally Linda).

So, imagine yourself waking up every day in a city without cars, exquisite architecture all around and music in the air.  And all you have to do is sing!


I have found that people sing differently during this week in Italy.  They sing with more freedom and with less judgment & fear; I have also found they bring this fearlessness in artistic self-expression back home with them.

Singing with more abandon and freedom, of course, becomes possible when you are away from the stress of your daily life.

But why do this in Italy? Here’s my bias:  Everything is better in Italy!  I believe that the sun is warmer and more beautiful; that the soil is richer making all the food so much better; that the cuisine is magnificent and so is the wine.  Everywhere you look, there is an amazing view.

You can get lost in this exquisite beauty. Emotions and feelings seem to be more on the surface with people in this Mediterranean country thereby making it permissible for us  (who may be a little more tightly wound) to access and express ours…did I mention the food and the wine?

The extra bonus of spending time in Italy with Il Chiostro is that Linda Mironti and Michael Mele share their knowledge of, experience in and love of Italy with us.  To be given that personal view is priceless.

Participants will learn the fundamentals of:

  • stage presence
  • connecting and communicating with an audience
  • overcoming stage fright
  • choosing appropriate musical material
  • lyric interpretation
  • refining phrasing
  • microphone technique

For those who have never performed publicly or have never ventured into the intimate environment of expressing yourself through song, the question may be, “Can I do it?” With Helen, the answer is “Yes, you can…And you’ll have fun!”

The week will culminate on the last evening with an informal presentation of our work in the villa. We’ll perform for ourselves and a few friends from the area.


If you would prefer to find your own accommodations in a nearby hotel or AirBnB, no problem.  Just click that option on the registration page.

Price: $2,895 p/p
Non-singing partners/friends are always welcome for a reduced fee of $2,595


  • Single room supplement, add $475 (limited number available)
  • Find your own accommodations, reduce fee by $800.  (Click the “Accommodations” tab above for some of our nearby suggestions.)


  • 7 nights at refurbished convent – double or single (with supplement) room with ensuite bathroom and shower (Note: departure is after breakfast on the final Saturday.  The last class activity will be Friday evening.)
  • Daily breakfast and 5 dinners at local restaurants, including wine
  • Workshop tuition, daily classes with Helen and Bobby
  • Guided walking tour of Venice with local art historian
  • Selected excursions with class


    Circular Venice, photo by Andy Holtzman

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing
  • Workshop materials
  • Local transportation: vaporettos, water taxis

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail. Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program. You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about Italy, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance. Final Balance is due by August 15th. Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

Istituto Canossiano, Dorsoduro, Venice

Convent Crew Venice 09-AnnaFor the week participants will be staying at the convent Istituto Canossiano. It is in the Dorsoduro – across the Accademia Bridge from the San Marco sector – on a quiet back canal of a typical Venetian neighborhood. Rooms are basic:  simply furnished, each with a full bathroom and daily maid service.

Basic amenities are provided including daily housekeeping and reception services.

Single rooms are available for a supplement of $450.

For those interested, there is also an option to stay at a nearby hotel for a supplement.

In the convent, there is a meeting room beside the chapel that we will use as our studio and several outdoor cloisters in which we can paint when we are not out on the canals and campos of Venice.

Canossiano courtyardCanossiano double roomCanossiano entrance

 The Canossiano convent:  courtyard, a typical double room, the convent entrance

To arrive either you can fly directly into Venice or into Milan and then take the train to Venice. Specific arrival instructions will follow, but from the train station you can take the vaporetto #1 and get off at the Ca’Rezonico stop or from the airport you can take the Alilaguna ferry (Orange Line) and get off at Ca’Rezonico stop. We’ll send you easy walking directions from there.  Remember that Venice is a walking city, so pack light because you will have to pull your luggage down the alleys and over the bridges – there’s just no getting around that.

Our first activity will be an orientation at 6pm on the first day, followed by dinner with the group.

Departure is after breakfast on the final day.  If you are flying out that day you might try to arrange your flights for 11am or later to avoid getting up at the crack of dawn.

If you have time you might want to explore the Lakes district or enchanting towns like Bergamo or Verona, the site of Romeo and Juliet, before you arrive in Venice. This will give you plenty of time to recover from jet-lag before you settle in at the convent and start your workshop. Besides, Italy is not something that should be experienced in a hurry. Its charms need to seep into your skin while you linger at a café or amble through a piazza.


Travel Agent

If you don’t have your own trusted travel agent, here are two we can recommend:

They are familiar with Il Chiostro programs and can help you with flights, hotel reservations, extensions before or after your trip, transfers, and especially booking the right travel insurance to cover your trip.

Over the last couple of years, how we travel has changed.  For that reason, we now encourage everyone to use a travel professional to help arrange your travels.  One of the most important services they can provide today is to help you choose and enroll in the right travel insurance program. With Covid and the possibility of changes and postponements of itineraries, travel insurance is all but essential.  On your own, it can be overwhelming to select the right plan from the variety available.  Also, if you confront any obstacle while traveling, a travel professional will take the stress off your shoulders and help you to navigate through whatever issues may arise.  Booking through an online site like Expedia or Hotels is convenient and possibly less expensive, but they won’t be much help if you need to alter your plans.  A travel agent, on the other hand, is there to assist you throughout your trip.

If you choose to Go It Alone, we highly recommend taking out travel insurance for the trip in the event of any unforeseen obstacles to your travel.  We recommend Travelex (800) 504-7883 or Travel Guard International (877) 901-7599.

Venice, city, empire, wonder of the world, is one of the most visually stimulating places on Earth. Stripes of canals, Byzantine mosaics glittering in the sun, window cases of blown glass, leather-bound books, plumed masks, woodcut puppets. Each step through the crooked passages is a delight. Spend a week (or two) probing unknown corners. Stay long enough to lounge at a café. Get to know the old woman at the vegetable stall. Return to that tiny mask shop again and again. Photograph it. Artists and writers have been interpreting Venice since it was born in the lagoon centuries ago, from the Grand Canal to the tiny sculptures above the doorframes. Get lost in the sensuality.

Because Venice is such a visual feast that is a collection of its past, our program offers weeklong workshops in painting or photography. Participants coming from the different disciplines will capture and be stimulated by the passion of Venice.  Throughout the week the groups inspire one another to see in new ways and to experiment with their work in a city that has awed writers, painters, colonels and kings.

Bartosek-rialto sunset

Rialto Sunset by Cindy Bartosek