14 December, 2010


In two days I'll be leaving for fun in the sun and a wedding (no, not my own! shock and awe!).
Things I SHOULD do on the plane:
Memorize, memorize, memorize english translation of upcoming opera2 and text!!!

Things I'll PROBABLY do on the plane:
Sleep. Watch movies. Repeat for 14 hours.

See ya after the new year when I'm already at upcoming opera1 gig!!

Oh, well, actually, maybe I'll do a 'year in review' type thing before that, but not in the next 2 days!

08 December, 2010

from 'the forum'

Wrote this a few weeks ago, over yonder on another classical singer discussion forum, but thought it was appropriate to post here, since I just did a run-down of US-based Yaps/reality of the business.
Why not hit Europe as well?

Just as a comparison and a possible statement on the 'state of things' here in Europe:

Between Aug.25-Dec.2nd of 2009 I had 10 auditions.
Aug.25-end of 2010: 3 with one more scheduled.

In the 'winter/spring' (Jan.-March-ish) audition season of 2009: 12.
'winter/spring' season of 2010: 4.

In addition, when I moved here in 2009, at THAT point singers were already saying the audition opportunities were fewer than 'normal', or 'the past'. (And yes, I moved here, I didn't do a 'European audition tour' with a US mailing address still on my resume).

It certainly seems like this may no longer be the place to 'wait it out' and then return to the good ole' USofA with 'roles under your belt', nor is it the place to get your foot in the door more easily.

(But we already knew that because we all read What The Fach, right??!!!! :) )

Advice to singers considering an 'audition tour':

Consider coming here seriously if you want to live a European lifestyle and STILL chase after every last opportunity/audition-- just like in the US. Yes, that means you may have to teach English, try to get a part time job (welcome to dealing with Foreign Visa offices), or be creative in the musical opportunities/other part time opportunities you seek out for yourself ALL while applying to house auditions/agent auditions...auf Deutsch.

Don't come here because your teachers and coaches said you should 'hit' Europe and you'll be 'perfect' for the types of houses and shows they do here.

To be frank, I don't really think that kind of opportunity exists here anymore, UNLESS you are interested in applying to the 'yaps' of European houses..upper age limit for most 28 (women), and median age of most of my colleagues singing in such programs- 24/25).
And yes, you get paid nearly nothing to do all of the barbarinas/anninas/papagenas that your hearts desire with no security that when you've put in your one or two years that you'll move into an ensemble position at that house.
Although I wasn't looking for this type of situation when I moved here, I know an equal number of young singers that have benefited from it (ie, moved up into the ensemble and have security in their job..although maybe not the best roles possible) and a matching number that were spit out into the 'real world' of trying to secure mainstage auditions for leading roles on their own after two years. They do have pretty perfect German though!

07 December, 2010

the 'biz' ... again

"It's the most wonderful time of the year"! It's the YAP, YAPPIEST season of all...
Yes, it's that time, in New York City, when singers young and OLD wind their way through the bowels of nyco, warm up in the bathrooms of church basements, lip trill in the hallways of NOLA, and hope above all hopes that they are 'accepted' somewhere.
Validation, of course. And "The PATH". Feels kind of like "The SECRET". They say "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere", but, is it true for YAPs and those first programs that are supposed stepping stones to success?

(btw, do you like all the quotes and alliteration I've used so far? Yea, it's THAT kind of morning).

Here are a few case studies of friends of mine (let's stick with sopranos since it's easily the hardest 'fach' to get hired in...no matter what).

Soprano A- undergrad from a music conservatory, grad from a music conservatory, mid level Yap1, mid/high level Yap2, doctorate from a music school, "yap"abroad for a year (in all of these yaps she covered the main roles and sang the smaller roles...with a few chances to do the big stuff, like in student matinees). Back in NYC, with an management since age 29, not being accepted to many mainstage auditions, nothing in future work. Over 30 now.

Soprano B- undergrad from a big university, grad from a big university while at the same time in a resident artist program (singing and covering leading roles), small summer Yap1, small summer yap2 (and by small I mean, they do one or two shows, and they may not have the 'connections' coming to see the young artists as a bigger yap would). Big residency program (for a year, but then nothing from them). Gap year. No summer program, no residency. Not managed yet, not 30 yet either, applying to yaps THIS year (after years of doing it..since we were all about 22 or 23ish), and got into a top-level Yap- which means- connections, agent auditions, mainstage auditions from WHOEVER comes through there for the summer. My friends that have sung here have mostly ALL come out either with an agent, concert work, or a mainstage job. Here's hoping!

Soprano C- undergrad from a big university and from a conservatory, grad from a big university while in a resident artist program (leading roles), yap1, yap2 (mid-level), invited back to yap2 for mainstage, Big residency program (for a year, singing great mainstage roles), return to residency house after program for one show, management at age 25- then no more summer programs, or 'programs' at all were recommended. Mainstage- starting from regional, working way into 'important regional', Europe debut, and mainstage work into 2012.

SopranoD- JOC (that's juilliard opera center), bigYap, was heard by intl.YAP at bigYAP, now in the ensemble of major European opera house (with top management, obviously).

SopranoE- IU (music school) Master's, little yaps, big yaps, big residency asked back for 3 years (roles, covers of big roles), then nothing for THREE years, now a little yap, and tbd for the summer. No management, over 30.

What's the key? IS there a key? Is there a 'right way'?
Is it just your GUT telling you to press on for ONE more year of the insanity in New York between October and December? Is it just dumb luck about the one year that the panel decides YOU will be the 'chosen one who will join the ranks of a summer program, mostly to sing in the chorus, but also to cover a mainstage role? How old is too old and when is enough, enough? I have colleagues well into their mid to late thirties who are still singing in Yaps. NOT as mainstage artists. (And not always telling the TRUTH about their age....since many programs have age limits).

The harder truth is, that YAPs, while providing a supportive 'incubator' period, and yes, also providing the opportunity to REALLY show your stuff (if given the chance, when agents come through for mainstage performances), are not an indicator of a future career. They're like a 'hidden level' in Mario Brothers that you can collect a LOT of golden coins in, and maybe skip to level 4 from level 1...BUT it doesn't mean that you can't lose all your lives and have a "Game Over" sign flashing on your not-yet-color Gameboy Screen (I'm dating myself to about 1995 here). And by the time you start that new game from level one with no secret codes, you may be 30, with no agent, and no real 'experience' besides covering and coaching for a summer.