Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Pre-Show Ritual

If you're like many sopranos, performance days are your favorite days. Sure there are nerves and stress, but at the end of the day we get to do the thing we love most: sing in front of a live audience! So how does a soprano get ready for the big event? We asked a bunch of them and here's what they said:

"I'm always super nervous about feeling rushed, so I give myself loads of time to get there, especially if (god forbid) I'm traveling via public transit. If I'm feeling rich/if the gig pays well, I might even spring for a cab!"

"I eat really clean on show days. I avoid acidic things, since nerves can make my reflux flare anyway, as well as dairy and caffeine. And I try not to eat in like the three hours before curtain. I drink a ton of water. And then invariably after the show I'm starving and I let myself indulge a little bit, maybe in dessert, maybe in a delicious cocktail, if I don't have to sing tomorrow.”

"In grad school, my voice teacher told me to take the day of my recital to myself. Go get my nails done, pamper myself. Her reasoning was that even at school, you could let yourself be a diva for the day. Sometimes it's just an at-home manicure for myself, but I do try to find a little way to indulge in something that makes me feel beautiful and divalicious!!

"It really depends on the rep, but I try to warm up in stages throughout the day. Luckily, my voice really likes singing at 9:00 pm, but matinees can be a challenge. I have learned how to walk that line between sufficiently warm and over-sung."

"Don't get me wrong, it means so much to me when my family comes into town for a performance. But the added pressure of being a host can throw me off of my game. So I try to set clear boundaries about when we can hang out on a show day. Luckily my boyfriend is a saint and also loves hanging out with my parents, so he’s a good substitute host!”

"I work a day job and so sometimes I have to head straight from the office to the theater. Sometimes that's actually good for me because I don't have any time to psyche myself out. I try to take a minute right before or after getting to the theater for some silent mind-clearing time. Some people might call it meditation. I just focus on my breath and try to let the day melt away and think about the task ahead of me."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rise of the Small Opera Company

The holidays are upon us and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Yet this is one of the toughest times of the year for young and emerging singers. The rejection letters are piling in, before audition season has even begun. Spending all of our hard earned money on application fees and being rejected, before even having an opportunity to show off our talent, is tremendously difficult to handle.

And with all of the stories this past year of our potential employers, opera companies, folding or threatening to close, it’s a wonder that we are all still hitting the pavement and forging our own way through in pursuit of this operatic career.

Are the times changing, or with social media and online publications making the bad news more evident? Is opera really dying, or is this just a fancy way to get our art form in the news? That’s one way to build an audience – tell people we’re going away –that will teach them to show up to our performances. Get it while there is something to get.
Regardless of what BIG opera companies are doing or not doing, the good and exciting news is, there are many new small opera companies arising out of the dust. While the larger companies are asking, “how do we reach a new and younger audience?” There are new companies out there being run by younger people, creating exciting productions and reaching that young audience by bringing opera to them.  BRING OPERA to your AUDIENCE.  Raise money, stay in your budget, don’t rely on ticket sales and take opera to the people!

The other amazing thing about these opera companies is that they hire young singers! They hear as many people at their auditions as they can! The audition fees are limited and smaller. Not only are they going strong and breaking down barriers that the larger companies have not be able to do, but they are also singer friendly!
For singers - by singers.

So these are great companies to audition for and be a part of. Want to use your talents and work in the field of opera? Many of these companies were started by singers, directors, conductors and composers and their staff includes the like who also perform in their shows. When was the last time that administrator at a big opera company even had an opportunity to audition for their employer?  Well, these companies have imaginations and understand that singers have to have multiple jobs and that doesn’t affect their talent and ability on stage.

We’ve selected a few small start up companies that are doing exciting things and keeping opera very much alive to highlight in a few upcoming interviews, including: Loft Opera, New York Opera Exchange, Boston Opera Collaborative, Pacific Opera Project, Opera on Tap, Marble City Opera, and more. Stay tuned for insights from these companies on bringing opera to a new audience and whether or not they think opera is alive!

Image Coutesy of artur84 at

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Introducing Lily Guerrero in our first Sexi Soprano YAFeatures (Young Artist)

We are so excited to launch our new section that features young up and coming artists! We want to promote young singers that are going above and beyond to launch their careers. We hope you will support these young singers by watching their promotional videos and sharing with your friends.

Know someone that wants to be featured? Email us:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Reality of Typecasting

Have you ever thought about the fact that we live in a world where men and women are supposedly equal? However, we are still striving towards having more equal rights. We are still faced with men making decisions for us. But have you ever stopped to realize that we work in a business that is not only male-dominant, but also where, through no real fault of anyone, we are hired based off of a type?

What does this mean? Being a strong independent woman who sings, “I can do anything you can do better” as an everyday theme song, I’m horrified by the reality that I’m hired based on type. I mean we know people say this in theater sometimes, and movies are notorious for hiring the same actor or actress to do the same role over and over and over again, under the false pretense that it’s a “new movie.” But opera is obviously the worst offender here. Think about it. Your voice determines what roles you play. And with opera wanting to reach a broader audience, you now have to look like your voice (or the roles you play). Thankfully, this does not mean you have to be a size zero and never eat again. I like to think that opera is into having a real woman on stage. But it does mean that you have to be in shape and know how to dress your body well.

Knowing how to present yourself is key. Go to your closet and pull out your audition dress or dresses. Try them on and be picky with yourself.  Does this outfit show off your body to its highest potential?  You want something, that when you put it on, you know without a doubt you could wear this outfit everyday of your life, because it best represents your figure in the most flattering way.  If you are unsure, then ask an honest friend for their opinion.

Also, do your best to look like the arias you are presenting and the roles that you are auditioning for. Queen of the night can be a much stronger look than I would suggest for Juliet. Soften your look with gentle curls, or wear a lace dress. Are the characters you play extremely religious and conservative, or are they provocative? Be careful not to go over the top; you still want to be relatable to the people who are casting, but a subtle nod to the character’s personality is a plus.

Society and the media show us picture after picture that says we should look a certain way, so I would bet that most women have some kind of issue with some part of their body. What a shame. We also think that people judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves, which I can tell you is absolutely false. I look at all my friends, all shapes and sizes, and think they are beautiful, because they are. I’m sure you do too, so why can’t you look in the mirror and know that you are beautiful? Stop being so hard on yourself. That ends today!

Our minds are an interesting thing. We believe what we think.
For the next week we at Sexi Soprano challenge you to change your negative thoughts to positive ones. Pick a mantra, look in the mirror, and repeat it out loud to yourself. It may seem ridiculous at first to look yourself in the eyes and say, out loud, something positive about yourself that you don’t necessarily believe, but if you keep saying it, you will believe it.  We are what we think we are.

I will lose weight.
I can eat healthy.
I can exercise daily
I can learn a new language.
I will make more money singing.
I can learn this role.
I will apply for auditions.
I will get cast.
Opportunities will come.
My family does support me.
There are people who believe in me.
The people holding auditions want to cast me.
I will succeed.
I will get everything done.
I will stay healthy.
I will do my best, and everything will be fine.

In terms of being cast by type, aria selection is important.  The best “aria package” demonstrates your full range dramatically and vocally.  I recently replaced my comedic aria with a more lyrical contemporary piece; however, now I don’t have anything to show that I can actually be funny, and it’s one of my strengths!  This is not a good thing. My suggestion would be to list six arias or even seven. Don’t miss an opportunity to show what you do best, just because you’re trying to meet some strange requirement of five arias, one in each language.

So go out there this audition season and be the best version of yourself vocally and dramatically. I’m sure you’re bound to get some roles if you do!  Remember, even though opera is cast based on type, you are the type who can sing your roles!  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Image courtesy of graur codrin at