Letters to the Editor

FEES FOR SINGERS VS “MUSICIANS’ ” FEES

Dear C.S.: An article in the July 20th issue of The Nation raised issues relevant to our situation as classical singers. The article was about the second annual Texaco New York Jazz Festival at the downtown music club The Knitting Factory. For the past 10 years, the owner, Michael Dorf, has provided a place for avant-garde pop and jazz musicians to play their music, paying approximately $50 per gig, regardless of whether the band was a solo act, a trio or a big band. Musicians were grateful for the opportunity to perform and hone their craft—sound familiar? This year, however, the musicians scheduled to play the Festival found that Texaco had given Dorf a $500,000 subsidy, yet he was not planning on raising the players’ fees at all. The musicians formed a coalition to negotiate a better fee schedule with Dorf, and Local 802 of the musician’s union got behind them—the first time in its history that it had gotten involved in a labor struggle involving non-classical or non-Broadway musicians. It is the musicians who made the Knitting Factory popular and profitable, just as it is the singers who make opera popular and profitable. It is us that ticket-buyers pay to hear, yet we allow ourselves to be sold short, even performing for free, because we know if we don’t take the gig, plenty of other singers will. This has to change if singers are ever going to be paid fairly or treated as respected artists.
—Name Withheld

Dear C.S.: I sang for a company on Long Island (Island Lyric Opera). Imagine my surprise when I found that their policy was to pay the instrumentalists, import paid choristers from NYCO and pay the male cast—but not the women! The rationale was that it is more difficult to find male singers than female singers.
—Name Withheld

GETTING REVIEWS

Dear C.S.: In a recent issue, you mentioned that audience reviews can be found on the Internet. Where? Thanks! —Elin Carlson

Performances, even student performances, are constantly being reviewed online:

• America Online—Many sources here. Here’s two sources: go to Keyword>Culture Finder>Messages>Opera>Opera Performances. Also, keyword>NYTimes>ARTS>Music has the official critic’s review. I personally prefer message boards which have audiences members giving what I call real reviews! Compuserve has similar message boards also.

• Opera-L—Reviews many performances which never see a newspaper critic. Check to see if you’ve been reviewed: http://listserv.cuny.edu/archives/opera-l.html. The Metropolitan Opera and other companies monitor Opera-L et. al., so it isn’t a venue to ignore—or use carelessly.

• Search Engines—You can also use any of the search engines to see if you’ve been reviewed on other sites.

AUDITION VIEWING ON THE WEBSITE

Dear C.S.: My wife and daughter subscribe to your publication. We often check your new website (which is off to a terrific start). Could you include a “posted” date next to the auditions, so viewers will have an easier time determining what they saw last time they signed on?
Also, we have four different e-mail addresses we work from when viewing the website. Will the site be e-mail specific, or will it use a name and password for subscribers that we can share? We’re not trying to deprive you of a subscription, just trying to plan for the best access to the site given different limitations on computer resources from different points of access.
—Kevin J. Johnson, Minneapolis MN

Hopefully by the time you get this, your suggestions will have already been added to the website. Thanks for the feedback.

When the website password system gets activated, it will not be e-mail oriented, but based on an ID and password. Once activated, casual visitors can: view all areas of the site, except Auditions and Current Issue, plus view but not post to the Forum. Registered singers (free) can also: post to the Forum and be listed in the Singer Directory. Paid subscribers to Classical Singer Magazine will have unlimited access to the site, discounts on books/services, with more perks coming.

We appreciate your sensitivity to the issue of sharing passwords/subscriptions. Shared subscriptions, photocopying and posting auditions, etc., make it hard to grow and provide the services singers need. While we understand that many singers struggle financially, the cost of a year’s worth of career information is certainly worth the price of one voice lesson.
—David D. Wood, Publisher

CONVERTED TECHNOPHOBE!

Dear C.S.: I am not what one would call computer literate (I had to get my father to show me how to find the new website!). I was really annoyed and disappointed that I was going to have to spend time on the computer in order to keep up to date with auditions, etc. However, after spending some time, I’m very excited about the possibilities! I’ve started my own e-mail (no more borrowing my husband’s!) and registered for the singer directory. I am even contemplating getting my own website! Thank you for forcing me into the 21st century!
—Annette Figueroa