Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recipe for operatic grand success

I have been pondering this one for a while now, realizing how hard it is to survive in the business of singing opera.
From  a few hundred young opera students that we were, (at school, in summer festivals), I can only think of a couple of dozen who are still making a living solely from singing.
 And out of those, there are only a hand full who are singing in major opera houses and are having a good career.
I have friends and colleagues who have had some amazing "momentums" during the course of their career. They were the "next opera star". Some had a major triumph at houses like the MET or Scala, some had won big name competitions.... but after a few years, you couldn't find much about them, or they had been "demoted" to some lesser roles in some lesser houses.
What is it then? What makes one climb up and remain there? How did Anna and Jonas and Juan Diego do it?
Well, I think the answer is this: There is a recipe. Yes, there is. And the degree of which you might succeed, depends on how many ingredients you have and how much of each ingredient you carry.
You must have most of these ingredients, and the important ones have got to be very secure. If some of the basics are there, but not fully evolved, it's ok as well, as long as you can compensate with the others.
Not every opera "star" has all these qualities, but if you notice, each one of the very successful singers, has most of them, or is famous for a certain speciality which compensates for his weaker qualities.  Some of these , you can learn and acquire, some- unfortunately not. As this is not exact science, of course, there are always some exceptions , and some mysteries. And granted- This is very arguable.
 For what it's worth, here is my  idea of "soup for operatic success":
*Instrument (good size or projection)
 *Technique  (i.e steady vibrato,good uniformed range, vocal advanced "tricks" like superb pianissimo, floating, etc)
 *Expression (The ability to connect to the text, facial  and body movement, musical phrasing etc.)
 *Looks  ( "agreeable" weight/height/handsomeness/  or speciality)
 *Charisma / Stage personality (communicator)
 *Voice speciality ( unusual agility/hight/depth/size etc.)
 *Style speciality (Baroque, belcanto, etc.)
 *Self assurance and belief
 *Ambition (+ persistance, disciplin, consistency)
 *Acting ability
*Resilience (thanks for reminding me,
 @gtltornt :) )
*Mental/ physical health  (As long as one's health does not effect one's  rehearsal/performance).
 *Connections (management/conductors/directors/GD's/record companies)
 *Public Relations
 (*Luck) ;)


Anonymous Limo VIP Bus said...

Great article.
Well thought and is really informative.
Thanks and do keep it up.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Insight! Ditto! I've thought the same many a time because I've been one of those students/aspiring singers that started out good but something/somewhere went wrong. Like you, several of my colleagues went on to great careers and then some disappeared from the scene! Keep up the good work!

1:12 AM  

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