25 May, 2008

catching up (woah...long)

It happens every May and every Nov./Dec.---singers are 'in town' for auditions or competitions so you catch up over long lunches, brunches, dinners, and outside of the audition room.
You talk about old times (ie, the program or summer or opera that you met in), you talk about what's going on in their lives (boyfriends, graduating, last show, music to learn) and then inevitably you talk about what is upcoming...and the 'business today' as it affects them.

I'm happy to say that among my group of close singer friends, I really believe that many of them will have a substantial career--or at least have the talent potential to do so at the point that they are now in their studies, performance, and careers.

It's interesting to track what they are doing (totally different voice types than me, so no overlap or comparison, really), and also where they came from and how many connections or contacts their different paths have led them through.

I met two friends today that I sang with two years ago.
FriendA goes to very-prestigious-nyc-program and has made many connections through the coaches, directors, and conductors that have come through there. She was just asked to do a workshop of an opera that will most likely be done with "northwest coast opera" in 2010 because she knew the conductor and director from her current-program.
She just finished another appearance at 'midwest opera' through a conductor she sang for in the program we both did 2 years ago, and she has some upcoming further connections to auditions and roles through this program as well as highly-regarded-west-coast-program which she will attend this summer.

In addition, she has a hell of a voice and smarts about keeping contacts and being in the know.

FriendB just won 2nd place in 2 very important competitions. She got an email from a high-up manager congratulating her on the win and asking her to send recordings (YEA!), and she is primed and ready to take on audition season by storm- IF said manager decides that he wants to work with her...either for real or as a trial run.
She is my age, and sings full lyric with the best of them...she's been the finalist for a number of high-level residencies, but never the one chosen. She studies with a teacher that has very important connections and will use them on students she thinks are worthy of them. She hasn't kept in AS much touch with previous conductors, coaches and program directors as friend1, and is a little behind in the 'business' of the business end of things.
But the recording that I just heard of her most recent role ..I kid you not..sounded CD perfect. I don't just mean you got a good recording. I mean..I actually felt like I was listening to a clip that I bought off of itunes for 99 cents...but she just happened to be singing the aria. Gorgeous musicality, beautiful line and voice. Really--she is ready for someone to invest in her.

So we talk about what MAY be upcoming, about WHO is getting the jobs that we want now, or WHO is getting the residency positions that we want now. And truthfully, there aren't that many names that are surprises.
Just as surely as the same names keep popping up as competition winners each year..like a big winning streak that creates buzz, there is another set of names of established, but a bit older, artists, that we want to be--or follow in the path of-- in the next 3, the next 5, and the next 10 years.

I have my list and they have theirs.

When you make your way out of the kiddie pool and take the swimmies off, all of a sudden you're lumped in with the singers that have been at it for 10 years and more. The singers that already have their 'hometown' opera house. The singers that have gotten some sort of great casting break--from a previous residency that they did that re-hired them for a substantial role, from a competition win with a promise of a leading role, from a summer program that wanted them back as a a mainstage artist. But the question remains--was it from someone that already knew them, or OF them---or was it really just ONE kick-ass audition from a brand new company?

My own personal story for this year and beyond:
Role1- knew me from my residency days.
Role2- didn't know me from anything besides a CD
Concert- didn't know me
Role3- knew me from my residency days
Role4 upcoming - knew me from a summer program
concert- heard me in a competition and residency
and up next:
Role 5 and 6- heard me last year once and hired me.

How much can a connection to a director or conductor do for you?
How much can a phone call from a manager that has a good relationship with a certain artistic director do to put you in the top running after a run-of-the-mill good first audition?

So for me from Fall07-Spring09 it's 50-50.

But I can't help but wonder and hope that there will be more.
I want to be busier. I want to know what I need to do to make the best impression, a better impression, any impression. I want to make sure that I'm not missing any opportunities to audition, any opportunities to stay in touch, any opportunities to do a workshop for something, somewhere--that may eventually lead to more contacts and connections and people that know about me in this business.
And all of that, I believe, takes a very delicate balance of being a 'friend', of being a 'colleague', of being a smart businessperson, of keeping in touch without seeming needy or brown-nosing, and of having a great confidence about you and your art.

Last night I ran into a dramatic coach that I worked with at the age of 16. Yes, at my first official "summer program" in New York City when I was still in HighSchool. She is a highly regarded coach these days, and I always saw her ads in ClassicalSinger Magazine and never had a personal email to stay in touch.
She walked by me and I recognized her and said hello--not knowing if she would remember me at all.
She absolutely did--10 years later--and it was amazing to catch up with her and reconnect.

I'm glad I said hello and didn't let her pass me by.

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