16 August, 2011

wait, just one more thing...

Remember when I said I'm going on vaycay and not writing anymore until I get back?
Well there's just one more thought that needs to be 'thought out'. Just a little.

'Tis the season, where summer YAPs end. And some singers (like the ones in Santa Fe) get the chance to re-audition for next year (if it was their first year). Some singers find out SUPER early what likelihood they have of being 'all set' for next summer.

OH SUMMER PROGRAMS!! I Love you and I don't love you at ALL ...all at the same time.
Granted, I haven't done a summer program since 2006. Followed by singing mainstage as a principal artist in a summer program in 2007.
And no, I haven't auditioned for any summer programs in 3 years, either.

But yet again, I'm seeing colleagues who I have sung with in the past (SIX years ago at a year round apprenticeship, and so on, etc), who were OLDER than me back then, are (obviously) STILL older than me now ...and they are singing in summer programs. As young artists.

I know, I know. It's a tough business, bla bla bla...connections, la di dah.

But it seems like some programs have just turned their apprentice programs mostly into what seems like summer programs that hire professionals who are managed, who already HAVE regional and national and possibly international careers...but these singers still 'apply', audition on the one of many 'city' dates for the 'apprenticeship' or fellowship, move somewhere for the whole summer, have master classes, give concerts, get housed, sing leading roles in the operas... and it's no big deal.
They may be treated like professionals during their summer. But I'm pretty sure they're also still getting the individual meetings about future repertoire, headshot, resume, etc. as if they were still 'working' on getting a career in the future.
And, if they're all over 30 (by MORE than a few years)...what are all the 22-29 year olds doing?

I'm not saying EVERYONE is over 30 at the programs, but looking at the very top tiered summer programs, I see some names that stick out- colleagues that I know from our 'years' in the YAPs (mine being in the past, theirs seemingly continuing).
And the roles that they were assigned at said YAPs for the summer- are not roles that one needs years and years of vocal dramatic development for.
No fully dramatic soprano or wagnerian tenor.
Just plain old 'cutesy' roles- even MT- that could be done by any budding young talent.

And so I wonder why the 'young' and 'ready' talent was not chosen, and instead a perhaps 'safer' 'managed' singer was picked. Is it because the company has been burned before? Did they take a chance the didn't pan out on a singer who just got their Masters, had done two small YAPs previously, but just didn't cut it one summer?

But if young artist programs are out there to 'propel' you into getting management, making contacts, by maybe giving you mainstage auditions or by having agents come to the mainstage productions and see you in leading or supporting roles, why am I seeing more and more colleagues that are 30-35 years old, managed, singing 3-5 mainstage shows a year plus professional concerts-- doing 'YAPs'?
It seems to me the only they place they would 'propel' themselves in this situation is to be hired, again, as young artists by maybe the top 3 or 4 YAPs...or the same one they are in now...for the next year.
To again, spend the summer as one who, by definition, is still in the 'grow and nurture' phase.

Is it just the money? Or, the summer gig?-- since the US doesn't really have a regular summer opera season besides these summer programs? It's something I feel a bit removed from since I haven't continued in that summer rat race to see 'how high' I can get to in the summer young artist food chain--
Will there be a Merola, Wolf Trap or Santa Fe in my future?
I know those are three very different programs in terms of how much mainstage time each young artist gets versus the kind of roles (leading/supporting) etc...
But still, if those are still 'the big names' that people throw out there, I can throw them out too.

Well, this Fall, once again I'm EMPLOYED, which means- no time in New York between late October and the 2nd week of December...perfect timing to make a debut at an important opera house, right? PERFECT in a sense that it looks great in the bio and resume and no one in New York that is casting for next season or the next will know about it.

And of course, I DO have time in the summer (my current performance schedule is booked in a GOOD way until Mid-May and then again only in late August), so I could feasibly have applied to ...something...

Back and forth I go.
I thought that by the time I reached a 'certain' ..ahem...age (which I HAVE NOT REACHED YET!), that I would be 'aged-out' of most of these programs and of course, when I was younger, I assumed (correctly) that I would only be having a mainstage career (which I thankfully and happily, am!)!

But as the age limits creep higher and higher or disappear altogether...I can't help but be somewhat enchanted and giddy at the thought of an entire summer among 20-30 apprentices, FULL time music at all hours, coachings, lessons, preparation, and just that whole 'total' musical existence (which is VERY different than 4-6 weeks on one production)..and what a summer like that could mean to me.

NOW I'm off to pack for my vaycay.


Embly said...

you've nailed the problem right there. I have just graduated from a Master's program and there is nothing to transition with. People are staying longer and longer in these YAPs, not moving on and making it impossible for recent grads to be accepted. I don't know if it is because these older YAP repeaters can't find the jobs to move on to, or it's because the YAPs want to have the consistency of proven talent.
While I do plan to auditions again for these programs this season, I have become disillusioned. What are they providing? I would much rather audition for small roles and covers at C opera houses and actually learn my craft. I'm glad it's confusing from your side of game as well.

Anonymous said...

Wolf Trap has ALWAYS hired people who were on their way perhaps a bit more already. Those folks have been in good programs already and thus come there to sing lead roles. It's like a professional company, but with young people.

And yes, occasionally Santa Fe or Glimmerglass has one or two people that stick out like sore thumbs because they've been REALLY working for a while - like leading roles at B houses. I know a managed singer who did it last year and managed to get great exposure and hired at a ton of places for it. But it was a calculated move. And his contract was good. Sing featured roles in two shows and cover one big lead role and very little chorus. And sometimes places like Santa Fe - that DO put their YA covers on - need more experienced folks as the covers for certain roles that require a little more time. BUT there were lots of 24-25 year olds there, I think.

The same goes for every program and has for a while. Some are a touch beyond and others are indeed young-young-artists.