Friday, November 22, 2013

For Saint Cecilia's Day: The Secret Lives of Singers

The fact is, the business has changed a lot in the past few years. Singers with A-house credits take roles at regional companies to fill in their schedule gaps; instead of hiring established professionals for smaller roles, companies will often use students or locals who may be less experienced in order to save money; seasons and runs are both shorter; very few companies doublecast anymore. Many of my colleagues who sing leading roles and have many major credits have expressed nervousness over the fact that opera companies aren't hiring as far in advance as they have been used to. It's scary when you have a family to support and bills coming due, and your engagement calendar looms empty six months down the road.

"The past few years" is really since September 11, 2001.

I'm too busy to post. I have lots of things I want to write about here, but no time. I have to have the first draft of my research-intensive scholarly book in to the publisher on a short deadline, and I have lots more research to do, and very little time in which to do it. Also, I've been hired to teach a class in the music department of the local community college in the spring semester, and I have to prepare, because it's a subject in music that I've never taught before. 

Still, I feel moved to share this for the one or two people who might remotely be interested, because it made me nod my head vigorously up and down. I've been condemned in the combox here in the past by apparent would-be music critics, who suggested that I was failure as an artist because I haven't performed on the world's leading stages (although I think these readers, who don't know me and have never heard me sing, actually may have objected to me on other counts, and allowed their objections to shape their opinions of everything I do). Because I've spent most of my adult life as a working (i.e. paid) professional classical musician, have earned a doctorate in music, and still go out on semi-important gigs once or twice a year, I feel as if it's semi-important to set the record straight about my sort-of profession.

For the record, I had a friend, also a singer, who is friends with soprano Lauren Flanigan and used to bread-gig with her, and told me that Lauren in fact went to her temp job the day after she subbed in at the Met in the telecast performance opposite Pavarotti in Verdi's I Lombardi. Like so many singers, she was in debt.

Happy Feast Day!