Sing Your Story – in Venice!

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

Lennie Watts is a 17-time MAC, 5-time Backstage Bistro, and 3-time Nightlife Award-winner. Recognized as an outstanding vocalist, director, producer, and booking manager, he has been active in the New York cabaret scene for over 30 years. In addition to directing in small cabaret venues, he has directed events at Symphony Space, Town Hall, BB King’s, and Sony Hall.

Watts is the creator and Artistic Director of Singnasium, a nonprofit vocal school in New York City.

Tracy Stark, Pianist/ Arranger/ Conductor/ SingerSongwriter, is an 13-time MAC Award winner, in the categories of Music Director, Piano Bar Entertainer, and Song of the Year. She is also a Bistro Award winner for Musical Direction, the winner of the Dottie Burman Songwriter of the Year Award, and winner of the Broadway World Award for Musical Direction.   She has conducted, played, and sung at all the finest and the sleaziest venues all over the world, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.


Keeping the arts ALIVE by helping vocal artists THRIVE in New York City. The mission of non-profit Singnasium is to provide a safe, non-judgmental place for artists and singers, of all levels, to fully explore their creative selves. It is designed to provide support, embrace diversity, and offer eye-opening new ways for those who love to sing of becoming a more well-rounded musician. With classes and workshops spanning all aspects of vocal performance, Singnasium will utilize the best possible teaching artists and support personnel that the New York arts community has to offer, as well as provide outreach to the next generation of music and voice artists.

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Lennie Watts has performed at Town Hall in several concerts, including Broadway Unplugged and Broadway By The Year, 1949, and can be heard on the cast recordings of both shows. As an actor, he has toured nationally and internationally with productions of The Music Man (Marcellus) and The Wizard Of Oz (Lion). Other roles: Man in Chair (The Drowsy Chaperone) Pseudolus (A Funny Thing…), Herod (Jesus Christ Superstar), Nicely Nicely Johnson (Guys and Dolls), Jinx (Forever Plaid), Crumpet (Santaland Diaries). As a theater director, he has directed productions of GodspellDames at Sea, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Phantom.  He is an Adjunct Professor at Marymount Manhattan College, and has been a Master Teacher at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. David Finkle of The Village Voice calls him “A one man cabaret army!” He appeared on The Rosie O’Donnell Show,, and released his debut CD I Want…You Want, in 2000. He served as the President of MAC for 11 years, and is currently on the advisory board. He was recently named one of “The 50 Most Influential People in New York Cabaret” by Nightlife Exchange. 

Tracy Stark has worked with Lesley Gore, Sarah Dash (LaBelle), Phoebe Snow, Karen Black, Randy Jones (Village People), Jimmy Osmond, Tovah Feldshuh, Eric Millegan, Tonya Pinkins, Ann Crumb, Marni Nixon, Barb Jungr, Brenda Braxton, and hundreds of other rock, jazz, and broadway vocalists.  She has played/conducted on numerous television shows, including The Today Show. Her songs are included on at least 20 different compilations, and have been winning accolades in songwriting competitions for the past 2 decades.  She has 3 CD’s of original music, the latest of which is on the wonderful MIRANDA MUSIC label, with some amazing special guests, including Lesley Gore, Jane Monheit, Nona Hendryx, Karen Black, Ann Hampton Callaway, Barb Jungr, and other great artists!  She keeps overly busy, playing between 75-100 different shows per year.

(Performance photos from past Singnasium workshops in New York and Chicago.)

Wait, what?  A 1-week cabaret workshop in Venice!!

Join Singnasium Artistic Director and Master Teacher, Lennie Watts for this special cabaret workshop!! A week of making music and new friends while sharing marvelous food and wine – all in the fascinating, mysterious, inspiring city of Venice!

During our time together, participants will work on a mini 2-song set with patter. Arrangements will be created by Watts and our accompanist, Award Winning Musical Director, Tracy Stark. This workshop will focus on:

  • song selection,
  • storytelling, and
  • personalization of your material.

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

During this 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.

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!

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.



If you would prefer to find your own accommodations in a nearby hotel or AirBnB, no problem.  Venice has many options in all price ranges.  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 continental breakfast at nearby tea house and 5 dinners at local restaurants or trattorie, including wine
  • Workshop tuition, daily classes with Lennie and Tracy
  • 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 $475.

For those interested, you can book your own accommodations and get a discount of $800.

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