Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Naked High C’s: What I Learned From Stripping Down Onstage

Almost 5 years ago, I got a bizarre phone call from the producer of a new opera I had signed on to several months prior. She was testing the waters of how naked I would be willing to get onstage. The language was a little vague;maybe we’d use body suits or body paint.
I had run out from my receptionist job to take the call and as I returned to my desk I could feel myself blushing just thinking about it. What would my parents say? What would my boyfriend say? I certainly couldn’t tell anyone at work. Wasn’t there a high C in this score? I had never sung a high C onstage before, let alone naked! In front of an audience!

Luckily, the whole cast was going to be asked to do it too- at least three other singers would be joining me in my potential nakedness. When I logged onto Facebook I already had a message from the other woman in the cast. Had I gotten that call too? What did I say? I let her know that I’d told the producer that I would entertain anything the director felt was necessary for the storytelling. In my heart of hearts, though, I never thought that the venue we were using would let all of us be totally naked. She agreed and we decided not to stress about it until we knew for sure.

Fast forward a month, and the venue had given nudity the green light and we were all assembled for the first staging rehearsal with a big naked elephant in the room. For some reason the thing that the mezzo and I were fixating on was how we were to be styling the hair…down there. There were plenty of other things we could have been worrying about, but that ended up being our way to start talking about the very touchy topic of really truly exposing ourselves onstage.

The rehearsal process itself was one of the most collaborative, transformative experiences I have ever been through. The director helped us build trust in our castmates, our score, and ourselves. We developed a language as a small ensemble that led seamlessly to the inevitable day when the clothes came off in the rehearsal room. The opera’s difficult music and weighty subject matter were already laying us bare and the disrobing simply became an extension of that.

The final staging involved the use of white body paint, so in the end we weren’t technically naked. Our one communal dressing room was a sight to behold. Singers tend not to be super modest after a lifetime of quick changes, but this cast was extra shameless, helping each other reach hard-to-paint places, all the while making sure we didn’t mix up our paintbrushes.

I had long been convinced that I would need to crash diet to ever feel comfortable to bare it all (or even bare some of it) onstage. In the end, I was coming off of a whole season full of back to back to back productions and marathon sessions at the gym were just not in the cards. I came into the production looking how I looked. The nudity wasn’t sexual. It wasn’t about looking like a centerfold. It was about exposing what we all look like underneath. In the course of the production process, even with (especially with) all of my perceived flaws, , I became empowered, potent and far more aware of my body’s dramatic potential than ever before.  My legs were no longer concealed beneath layers of petticoats. My waist was not nipped, nor was my cleavage aided, by a corset. You could see the work of our singing and there was nowhere to hide.

Adding an audience to the mix certainly increased the adrenaline, but by the time they joined us the nudity was old hat. The piece challenged audiences musically, ethically, and in a host of other ways. Our musical community is small so I knew at least half of each house. And it was amusing in the months that followed to be introduced to people I didn’t know yet only to have them say, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen your boobs.”

The cast’s post-show ritual remains a highlight of my performing memory. We couldn’t very well ride the bus home covered head to toe in white paint, so the whole group piled into the facility’s group shower and helped wash off what we had helped paint on. It was a similar to the relief we all feel when washing off the layers of Ben Nye, but far more immersive. And with just the cast involved, after having gone to hell and back onstage together, it was the most bizarrely bonding activity you could imagine.
Nudity isn’t for every singer and it certainly isn’t for every show, but in retrospect, I am profoundly grateful that I was offered the opportunity to take the risk and that I said yes. I proved to myself (and to those who would go on to hire me) that I was a soprano who didn’t back down from a challenge. Heck, if I could sing that high C without a stitch of clothing on, I could certainly do it again under more conventional circumstances. And I have gone on to do just that.

Epilogue: Almost five years on and stills from the archival video still haven’t leaked to the Internet. I do hold out hope that someday I’ll be famous enough that someone can sell them for a pretty penny.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Big Hair, Don't Care (As They Say)

Big hair. Diana Ross had it, Dolly Parton had it, Cher had it. Even Renée and Susie had it.
Since the days of Mozart, divas have been using big hair to boost their appeal (and carry secrets). Love it or hate it, it is an essential part of a polished audition look. But how to begin? Ladies I’ve sung with say their hair is too fine, too thick, too straight to get the face-framing volume they need. They splurge on salon blowouts only to step into the New York audition-season wind and have their hair fall flat. Next time, make the best of your assets by giving your hair the lift it needs, lift that will last. My secret? TEASE IT TO THE MOON. (And yes, you can tease your hair without damaging it.)
Here are some tips from my grandma, 1960s bouffant-extraordinaire, to get your biggest hair ever.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nine Ways to Thrive During the Opera Off-Season

 A singing career is like a roller coaster- full of ups and downs. One year you have so much work you never get to see your friends and family, but the next year you don’t know what to do with yourself because all of a sudden you’re out of work and at home. So what do you do now? How do you fight feeling down when you’ve suddenly come to a grinding halt with nothing on the horizon?

 We’re athletes. Imagine what would happen if NFL football players got depressed at the end of their season and quit practicing. What about the Olympians who have to wait every four years to compete? Instead of falling into the slippery slope of “woe is me,” try following these steps:

1. Keep Busy. Find a way to make money in the “off season.” Teach voice lessons, take a church gig, direct sales, or coach fitness online. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and think outside the box. Maybe you’re lucky enough to keep that job while you’re away.

2. Eye on the Prize. Even though you’ve found another job, keep your thoughts focused on your ultimate dream. This will help you keep your priorities clear when it comes to how you want to spend your money. Investing in yourself is the best way to keep your career growing.  Every voice lesson you teach or job you work is money in your pocket towards your own voice lessons.

3. Exercise. This is important not because we all should look like supermodels. On the contrary, it’s not about how you look. It’s about how you feel. The more you exercise the easier it’s going to be to sing a full role on stage while doing all the staging. Being an opera singer is an athletic event. A huge amount of breath support and physical activity is required to sing. Every time you work out, it makes the role that much easier. Check out Sexi Soprano fitness guru for great workout tips.

4. Eat Healthy. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: our bodies are our instruments. Set yourself up for the best success by taking care of yourself. Eat a well-balanced diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, etc. Try Sexi Soprano’s recipes if you’re looking for some smart, fast, easy choices.

5. Practice. Singing is what makes us happy or we wouldn’t be pursuing such a challenging career, so sing everyday! Not only will it improve your singing, but it will also keep you happy. Choose a few projects and set goals and deadlines. Maybe you want to plan a concert or produce a one-act.  Maybe you want to learn a few more roles or arias. Do it!

6. Study. Take lessons and work with a vocal coach. Work with people who know what you’re capable of and challenge you to be better than even you can imagine. Work with people who encourage you to think and to be a good musician. Take this opportunity to learn a language or to perfect one you’ve already studied. Read books about opera or books that operas are based on so you can do a character study of your dream role. Rent DVDs of operas. Take this opportunity of down time to learn.  

8. Research. Look into opera companies. Who should you be auditioning for? Who are companies hiring? What kind of productions are they producing? Look up agents.What singers are on their rosters? What types of experience level do they have? Listen to singers. Who is out there having a career right now? What are they doing really well? All of this information can help you formulate a plan. Think about your own strengths and weaknesses and what you want to improve. Then take action to improve yourself. It is your job!
9. Lastly, take time to spend with your friends and family. Cherish the moments.Put in 40 hours a week to your job, and take a couple of days off to enjoy life and the people who are special to you.

If you take your job seriously, you will have serious rewards and will always be ready for that next opportunity. Be grateful for past experiences and the ones to come. Be happy for your friends and colleagues, wherever they are in their careers, because we are each other’s support system. Who else better understands everything you’re going through?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Banish Audition Season Stress

Audition season is upon us, and it can really drive stress through the roof.  Sometimes it’s hard to feel grounded when rushing from your day job to the train station to your audition and back.  Taking the time to center yourself can make a difference when the audition moderator calls your name.  Here are just a few techniques that every singer can try:

  • Breathing.  Yes, we all talk about breath all the time!  But we often forget about breathing out of the context of singing.  Focus not just on the inhalation, but the exhalation.  A good yogic exercise that brings awareness to your breath is alternate nostril breathing.  Hold one nostril closed while you inhale through the opposite nostril.  Switch nostrils and exhale, then inhale again.  Switch nostrils after every inhalation.  This creates a relaxed, cyclical breathing pattern that can be really cleansing.  This is just one of many breathing exercises you can do.
  • Meditation.  For those of us with racing thoughts, the idea of quiet meditation can be daunting.  But don’t knock it till you try it.  Find a quiet place to sit or lay down.  A body scan is a great way to begin meditation, because you can direct your focus to that specific task.  Begin with your feet and work your way up the body.  Notice every joint and muscle.  Allow tension to leave your body.  Be aware of your breath.  Allow thoughts to come into your consciousness, acknowledge that they are there, and then let them go.  Let yourself be as you are in the present.  Even as little as  10 to 15 minutes of meditation can refocus and calm your mind and body.  
  • Visualization.  Athletes use visualization (also called “guided imagery” or “mental rehearsal”) as a method of preparing for games and competitions.  And it can work for vocalists, too.  See yourself walking into the audition space with confidence and ease.  Visualize every aspect, from your personal introduction to your first breath to the staging of your aria to your negotiation of a challenging phrase.  Picture yourself exiting the room with satisfaction.  If you can see yourself succeeding in your mind, by the time you sing your audition, it will feel like you have already done it!
  • Establish a routine.  Having a pre-audition routine for yourself can make you feel more in control in a potentially stressful situation.  Set a bedtime for yourself, look quietly at your music, visualize, meditate, turn on your vaporizer and drink some tea, practice yoga, whatever!  Pack your audition bag with your music, resume, head shot, and rep list the night before.  Make a schedule for yourself that allows you plenty of time to wake up, prepare, and get to the audition space.  Do everything in your control to avoid unnecessary stress triggers.

Integrating calming techniques into your audition and performance preparation can make a world of difference.  We spend countless hours polishing our diction and working on our technique, but we can’t forget to ready our minds.  Eliminating stress allows you to step in front of the audition panel and show them what kind of artist you really are!    

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dark Chocolate Fruit and Nut Bites

Trick or Treat, Sexi fans…step away from the bag of fun-sized candy bars!! With Halloween right around the corner, temptation is lurking everywhere. Grocery aisles are laden with gigantic bags of every type of candy imaginable. Workplaces are filling their community treat bowls with goodies just begging to be devoured. What is one to do?! You couldn’t possibly say no…or could you? 

We’ve said before that we believe in the age-old saying, “everything in moderation”. However, you know just as well as we do that there is virtually no such thing as having “just one” of those fun little nuggets in the fancy orange and black wrappers. So what do you do? Turn down chocolate completely? HA! Never! Just come prepared! We’ve got the perfect recipe for your very own Halloween candy, and one that fits right into your healthy lifestyle! The best part is, you won’t believe how unbelievably fast and easy they are! We use dark chocolate as the base for these tasty bites, and then add your favorite nuts and dried fruit on top (we used pistachios, raw almonds, and unsweetened dried cranberries, but you use whatever you like!). Let them cool or pop them in the fridge to set, and there you have it – a perfect trifecta of goodness so you won’t feel left out during all of the festivities. They are the perfect, delicious little indulgence that will keep you on track and above the temptation! Pack three or four of them with you during your day so you have them on hand whenever that chocolate craving strikes! Trust us, you won’t want to drop these babies into those trick-or-treat bags!!

Dark Chocolate Fruit and Nut Bites
½ cup dark chocolate chips
Raw almonds
Shelled pistachios
Dried cranberries (unsweetened, if you can find them!)

Line a plate or cutting board with parchment paper or waxed paper. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips by microwaving on LOW in 20 second increments, stirring with a spoon after each 20 seconds, until melted (about 1 minute total). 

Using a spoon, scoop a small amount (about ½ tablespoon) of the melted chocolate and place a small circle of the melted chocolate (about 2 inches in diameter) onto the parchment paper. Flatten slightly with the spoon. Repeat until all the chocolate has been used. On each circle, place one almond, two pistachios, and two cranberries (or whichever combination you prefer and will fit on the round!). Allow them to cool on the counter or place them in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.  Enjoy!!

Notes about this recipe:
-The darker the chocolate, the better! Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, so go as dark as you like! 
-When microwaving, be sure not to overcook your chocolate or it will seize up. Stir thoroughly after each 20 seconds – sometimes the chips don’t look melted, but when you stir them they become smooth and melt down even more.
-Other suggestions for topping your rounds: peanuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, chopped dried pineapple, dried apricot pieces, raisins, or a sprinkle of our Hit-The-Trail Mix!

-If you can tolerate low- or no-salt nuts and unsweetened dried fruit, go for it! It makes these little bites that much healthier!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Role Preparation: How the Heck to Do it

So you’re learning your first operatic role. That’s fabulous! But what in the $*&% does that mean in terms of work? I know you’re feeling overwhelmed by the translation, notes, rhythms, ensembles…. Oy vey! Relax. Here’s the deal. You have to be smart. You can master any role you desire in just 12 weeks. Be disciplined. Be organized. Have your espresso machines ready. And here we go.

Before you begin this journey, I’m going to assume that you’re an intelligent musician who is willing to work hard. Take a couple of weeks to translate and IPA the bejezus out of the text. ALL. OF. IT. Not just what you’re singing, but all of the words spoken onstage by anyone in the opera. This is your job. If you don’t find at least a little bit of nerd-tastic joy doing this - find another line of work. Seriously, stop what you’re doing and become an accountant. A museum guide. A shoe sales woman. Anything. You’ve got to love this more than shoes. And that’s a lot, y’all.

Then sit down with a fabulous recording or your favorite video (or both), your score, and go on the journey to fully experience the story. This is your only opportunity to listen. Once you’re finished you should not – I repeat you should not – learn a role from a recording. You are an intelligent musician. You have a degree(s) in music. Act like you know what you’re doing!

So here we go. Pull out the role you’re currently learning and your favorite calendar, complete with colored pencils if that’s what makes you happy. Here’s your guide to learning the role of your dreams:

Week 1:
You’ve done your homework. Your text is translated and you know the IPA like any good vocal music nerd. Maybe you even speak the language (good for you)! Speak the text over and over. Your job this week is just to speak the text and learn the cadence of the language. Don’t look at rhythms or pitches. Speak. I know it hurts your soul just a little bit to not sing this glorious, new music, but trust me. It will be a happier time in the long run if you just learn the text. This is your job.

Week 2:
Breathing. Breathing is your friend. It’s your only friend, really. If you’re going to have longevity in this business, you have to learn to harness the power of your breath. Real singer breath. So this week you’re going to sit down with your score and plan your breath. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?
Breathing is a topic that really deserves its own discussion, but if you’re a soprano you know that singing high notes is an athletic event; one that requires planning and technique. High notes require a specific muscular support combined with the right pharyngeal space – it’s a Happy Meal. A party in your mouth. Your brain needs to prepare for this party in order to achieve proper execution. So go through your score and notate every place your brain needs to prepare. My favorite method of notation is to use my purple highlighter and add a (^) symbol a millisecond before I need to engage my support muscles. Then practice. Practice just breathing with your score. This week, all you need is breath.

Week 3:
You will have arias. Sometimes these are extremely difficult (hello Zerbinetta, Lucia & Queen of the Night). Even if you think these arias are “throw away” pieces (Quando m’en vo, anyone?), they can also be far more difficult than you profess. These are tiny moments for you to shine in the course of the opera. Learn the notes. Pitch perfect and that is all. Any aria that is less than pitch perfect is absolutely unacceptable. You say “but Pavarotti did xyz aria with abc mistakes…” Yeah. As pretty as you are you’re not Pavarotti, honey. Pitch perfect. Just notes. That’s all you get this week.

Week 4:
Recitatives. You’re learning your first Mozart opera? Your first Bel Canto opera? Fabulous! The recits are so, so, so important. So spend this week learning rhythms of the recits. Remember week 1 when you were just speaking the text like a native? This is why. Get into the nitty-gritty of the recit with the cadence of the language. Mozart is great for this because he was an effing genius when it came to text setting. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. Language, language, language. You’ll thank me for this one day.

Week 5:
Hey, let’s do some recits with notes and stuff! See how much easier it is to add notes once you’ve mastered the language and the text? You’re welcome.

Week 6 and 7:
Ensembles. So you’ve got a duet or a quartet. Maybe even a sextet to work on? This is it. You already know the text (duh) so let’s find how you fit into the grand musical scheme of things. And you have two luxurious weeks to do it. Act 1 Finale of Don Giovanni, no problem. If it helps, do a harmonic analysis of the score. Whatever keeps you going to find your groove. Two glorious weeks to spend on ensembles? Heck, yeah!

Week 8:
Whoa. At this point you should have touched every single note in the score. Instead of starting at the beginning of the score every day, start at the end. Work backwards. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it makes sense. If you start with the music that ends the opera, you’ll be able to finish it much more easily when you’re tired.

Week 9 through 11:
Look how far you’ve come! Now comes the fun part. Memorization (#ugh). Begin with the final act – Act III (or IV depending on the score. Maybe even Act V). This is what you memorize first and not just your text. Memorize the translation and what each character you’re interacting with is saying. Take one long, luxurious week for each Act and compound your efforts. i.e. When you’re working on the second act of La Traviata, make sure you’re continuing to work on Act III at the same time.

Week 12:
Polishing. This is where you get to begin to add your own musical touches. Nuances. Colors. This is where each role becomes your own. In an ideal world, we have at least 12 weeks to prepare a role.  And we all know that it will take more than one week to incorporate all of the nuances you want into a role, but this is a GREAT place to begin. Take your newly memorized role to your coach and start to hash it out.
And here we are! You didn’t think you could do it, did you? The more you study and sing, the faster you’ll get. Just remember … you were trained to do this!

Photo credit: hectormunozg via photopin

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The View From the Other Side: An Interview With Michael Shell

As opera singers, one of most important colleagues is the stage director. The stage director conceives the concept for the production, devises the blocking, and helps guide each singer through their path as a character. Needless to say, the singer-director relationship is an important one and learning to navigate it well is vital. We’ve invited director Michael Shell to share his thoughts about this dynamic. In addition to working with Young Artists at Glimmerglass Opera, Indiana University, Central City Opera and Santa Fe Opera, he has directed productions for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Atlanta Opera, Virginia Opera, as well as Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland.   He has a co-production of “The Barber of Seville” premiering at Opera Philadelphia in the fall and it will also play at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2015.

Welcome, Michael! Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our burning questions!

1.     All opera productions begin with rehearsals. What is your mindset as you start this process?

The rehearsal process is probably my favorite part of a production.  That being said, it can also be very frustrating.  These frustrations, for me, usually come from the lack of having the technical elements that help create the physical world of the production. As an actor, I always love to have everything that I am going to use, be it the actual props, or the stairwell that leads to another room etc. But the practical side of me knows that isn't going to be possible until we get closer to moving into the actual performing space. So the focus is entirely on the meat of the show: telling the story through the relationships of its characters.

The first few days are always very interesting. Everyone is unsure of themselves in terms of a group dynamic. Singers have flown in from all over the place, some having just finished a run of a show while others have been off work for a while. Some people seem to know everyone in the room, while others appear to be completely isolated. As a director, regardless of what cast members I have worked with before or not, I try to be welcoming to all. This period of 3 - 4weeks we are about to enter can be a wonderful experience and I like to start that off with an even playing field. No assumptions will be made prior to coming into rehearsal. Any things I may have heard about performers, I force myself to let go of so that I can be present with them as they present themselves now. Lord knows, I have changed over the past 10 years - hell - the past 2 months!

2.     What stands out to you about a singer during this process? Any pet peeves?

Things that stand out to me in the rehearsal process are what I would think of as fairly basic but unfortunately are not. I love it when I see a singer who uses every rehearsal as an opportunity to discover who this character is that he or she is playing. That manifests itself in various ways:  

Punctuality. When does someone show up to rehearsal? Literally - do they show up 10 - 15mins before, or do they walk in right at go time. Time is precious - and to be honest - 6 hours can fly by when you are trying to put any show together. So the ability to start as soon as rehearsal begins is paramount. So the person that does show up early is a welcome guest in my room!

Clothing/footwear. Ok - so this is totally my pet peeve. And for awhile I didn't think I had one until I started working with younger singers in university settings. I would walk into rehearsal - and half the guys in the room would be in flip flops and the ladies were in open toe shows. Here I am, let's say to direct "Street Scene" - takes place in the late 40's and here was someone who was going to play a young mother with two kids, in the shortest of shorts and flip flops. My first direction for said character was to try her running in after her children who are fighting in the street. Here comes said student, trying to run in flip flops  and almost trips on the floor. Not because of the character dropped her purse or out of exhaustion having to run the past few blocks, but because her flip flop slipped off her foot. Not a great way to start the rehearsal. That being said, I am certainly not saying that someone who is playing Violetta should come to rehearsal everyday in full gown and high heels. But having character shoes, something with a small heel, and clothes that you feel you can do anything in - either be at the fanciest party or pretend to be lounging around in your home - is a good place to begin.  On a new production, you will see costume renderings and get an idea of what the character is wearing.

3.     What sort of background preparations do you expect a singer to have done before the first rehearsal?

The more preparation the better. But, and I wish they would teach this in schools, you must first know the score. What I mean by that is not just the notes, how to pronounce the text, how to sing the role, but all of the details in the score. I usually begin the work with asking singers to give me objective information about the character. Notice I said objective not subjective. This is the stuff that we need to get out of the way and it also gives us a common ground. This is where your historical research, if applicable, as well as a thorough text analysis of your role comes into play. For example: Violetta. She is a courtesan, of sorts. She was sick for a year. She is throwing a comeback party. Etc. Also: know what other characters say about your character. Know what your character says about themselves as well. These are all things that can be learned by reading the text. From there you can deduce whether said character is strong willed, vivacious, loving etc. I prefer when singers speak of what the character is looking for and how they go about getting it.

4.     A touchy question, but useful to hear--how does appearance and weight affect your perception of a singer? Does appearance ever affect what roles you'd want to see a singer in, or does the right voice trump everything?

This is a really hot topic right now because of the descriptions of Irish Mezzo soprano Tara Erraught’s weight in recent reviews of Der Rosenkavlier at Glyndebourne. To be clear, I have forced myself to stop reading reviews. I have someone else tell me if there is anything quotable in the review for my website. This recent event as confirmed my choice and I will continue to avoid them. Anyhow, the issue is one that causes some debate. I recently saw a production where there was a pants role who was the ultimate suitor of the leading lady. I had a very hard time believing that this person was a man, not necessarily because of her size, but because of the way she walked and behaved onstage. In the best of all possible worlds, would I love to have a Mimi who sang like a god and looked as frail as she needed to look at the end of the opera? Yes. However, if said frail, god-like voiced soprano didn’t know her way around a stage, I wouldn’t be happy with that either.

About 10 years ago I saw the old production of Madama Butterfly at the Met.  I was sitting in the orchestra and could see that the soprano singing Butterfly was not a young artist, nor was she petite. But because her choices as an actor made her seem so innocent, so youthful and full of life, I was completely convinced that she was this 15 yr old girl.  So I guess the answer to the question is, no. Appearance or weight doesn’t affect my perception of a singer unless they let their appearance or weight get in the way of fully inhabiting a role.

Thank you so much, Michael! Your insights will definitely be very helpful for all the Sexi Sopranos out there!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Soprano


Once upon a time there was a young girl who loved to sing more than anything else in the universe. She dreamed of singing and performing in front of large audiences and people loving what they heard. She created her own shows and audiences whether they were stuffed animals or family members; she always had an audience and always had a performance. Throughout the years she was looked over for opportunities that she wanted. People thought she was shy and gave the parts in the plays to the students with louder personalities, but she never let that discourage her or think that she didn’t have a talent and something special to share. She continued to practice, train and perfect her skills. She learned to speak up and ask for what she wanted and made herself noticed. Today she sings opera, the highest and most challenging form of singing. Sometimes she still has to build her own audience and create her own projects, but that desire to sing is still there and the determination that was built by not being handed opportunities on a platter has made her stronger.

Let’s face it this opera career is not for the faint of heart or small pocketbooks, and because of that most of us have to have other jobs to support our careers. Some singers choose office jobs, some choose teaching jobs, some work in restaurants, or retail, whatever job that keeps you busy during the 4-6 days, 20-40 hours a week, the reality is, it’s time spent away from your dream job!  Time away from creating those opportunities and making your childhood dreams of singing come true.   The truth is it doesn’t matter what the job is, we have different kinds of jobs at different times in life, “getting through school jobs,”  “learning a new trade job,” but if your main purpose and goal on this earth is to sing opera, then this is your “getting to pursue opera job.”  What really matters, your REAL job is what happens on your days off, and during your so-called “time off.” 

Let’s explore an ideal day “off” in the life of a soprano.  The sun is shining the birds are chirping and you’re waking up out of bed with a nice big stretch ready to conquer the world. Throw on your work out gear and sneakers and head to the gym! 30-40 minutes on the elliptical machine watching your favorite guilty pleasure reality TV show, you break a sweat and you feel great. It’s time to head home for a hot shower and to get dressed for the day. After dressing for the day, it’s time for brunch.  Being the sexi soprano you are, you’ve planned well. You have healthy food in your kitchen and make yourself a well-balanced and nutritious meal. Next, it’s time to do a little career planning. You spend a few hours working on your singer materials; resume, bio, cover letter and rep list and make sure everything is up to date.  Then you search YAP tracker for potential and possible auditions that you want to apply for, making lists of all the requirements, researching the companies, and the roles you will be pursuing. After a few hours of organized and focused energy on opportunities it’s time to practice. Practice makes perfect is your motto and if you practice smarter vs. harder you can get there faster. Using warm-up exercises specifically targeted at your weak areas and to strengthen your voice you spend time getting flexible and strong. Low deep breathing keeps you calm, as if you were doing yoga, and in your voice. You strategically work through your music based on what is coming up next. By the time you’ve finished practicing it’s time to think about dinner. You turn the oven on and begin to cook. If you have a spouse or family you sit down to dinner with those people who you hold so dear to your heart, and you take a moment to breathe in the moment and remember what’s most important to you in this world.  You’ve put in a good days work, you’ve taken care of your body and voice and prepared mentally for the career you are pursing. It’s time to rest.  An important part of life that so often gets lost from our lives.

Singing is your talent and performing is your ultimate dream, but having friends and family to share it with helps make those exciting and beautiful artistic moments even more meaningful. Start by sharing your talents with those who love you and because of your diligent work and efforts, maybe the world will be lucky enough to experience them as well.

For more information on healthy recipes check out Sexi Soprano Cooks
For more information on exercise options check out Sexi Soprano Fitness
Stay tuned for more articles on being a Sexi Soprano 4 Life!