Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Patrons: The Backbone of Operatic Careers

By: Julie Tabash Kelsheimer

The job description is in the title, we are singers. But singing is only one of many aspects we actually do in our line of work. When we are not singing, many of us are building or updating our resumes and websites, getting new headshots, making new audio and video recordings, focusing on our physical health, translating new scores, planning travel to and from upcoming gigs and auditions – the list goes on. However, one of our biggest responsibilities as artists is sparking and maintaining relationships with those who make our jobs possible: opera patrons and donors.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the necessary “self” components of the job. We are constantly trying to build the best audition package, form a busy performance schedule, build a relationship with agents and managers, sing for operatic directors and conductors, and so on. But it is also crucial to think about the people who help fund this job. Without opera patrons and donors consistently giving their time, talents, and hard-earned money, opera companies couldn’t put on the productions we strive so hard to be a part of. How often do you see a “sponsored by” caption next to the name of a performer in the program, stayed in the homes of opera supporters free of charge, or performed at a private event in a donors’ house? So much of our performance and financial opportunities come from these individuals who believe in the art form and our ability to bring the music we all love to life.

Opera fans not only help support what we do, but become our friends and family. They are in the front row cheering us on, follow our careers, and are often the first people to congratulate us on our professional and life achievements. Some of the best conversations I’ve had were with opera supporters telling me my performance moved them in some way or made their day better. Knowing our performances encourage donors and patrons to continue supporting the growth of opera and its artists is one of the most fulfilling and humbling feelings in the world.

Thanking opera supporters is a task that we as singers should never overlook. Whether the people supporting you have been life-long opera patrons or have just started gaining interest in the art form, they deserve to know that we are truly grateful for their encouragement and support. With their help, we are given the greatest gift of all—the gift of sharing music with the world!