Letters to the Editor

Classical Singers at the Yankee Game?

Dear CS: There is hope for classical singers at major sports events. Two years ago Daniel Lichti sang the Canadian National Anthem at the NBA Rookie All-Star game. Perhaps we should be approaching all of the major league teams about having a “real” voice sing, possibly close to International Music Day? —Jane Colwell, Artists Management for Classical Singers

Singers Need Encouragement

Dear CS: Keep up the good work! Singers need all the help and encouragement they can get. That is why I began my competition here in the Northwest. When I was a young aspiring singer I had help from my teacher, mentor. I want to pass that along. There are so many more singers now than when I received my first chance professionally at New York City Opera. Although there are many apprentice programs and many competitions now (something that was not available to us), the service you are performing is invaluable. —Ellen Faull Gordon

And Yet More on Aging

Dear CS: After reading your October issue on “Aging and Singers,” my emotions ran the gamut. I have had wonderful and cherished musical experiences so far in my life, but the truth is—it’s been hard to accept in this business the reality of “getting older.” I have been singing profes<sionally since age 19, so I can’t say I haven’t had a career. It just hasn’t been the one I expected. I was absolutely sure that when I turned 40 I would be a star. Performing has been my whole life since childhood, and how could it not “happen” for me? This was a concept that had never occurred to me. I know I am not alone when I say that the business has disappointed me. But what I have learned is that I haven’t disappointed me. That is what has helped me through financial hardship, personal loss, and the frustration of this career. I am still that talented, communicative performer, and surely there is some way I can make a difference. As performers, we can be prepared, stay in shape, know our languages, sing a great audition, and still that big career could pass us by. Instead of asking why, ask what can you can do to keep singing and performing. Since receiving my Master’s in voice from the Mannes College of Music in 1996, I have returned to the world of musical theater and even done a half-dozen television commercials. Not bad for an old opera singer!! The point is I am not old…I am better than I was in my 20’s. I’m smarter, more stable, and see that limiting myself to one area of the business is foolish. The business has changed, and, without also changing our way of thinking, one might as well just stand in place and not move. In order to continue to perform I had to investigate other options. There are other options if one keeps an open mind and doesn’t close doors. Three years ago if you told me I’d be doing television commercials, I wouldn’t have believed it. But the opportunity was there and I took it. This sort of thing can happen to you because it happened to me. Maybe not television, but certainly something that keeps us singing and performing…doing what we love and were born to do. —Patricia Dell This letter raises a huge topic: why do so many singers feel like failures and/or feel that the business disappointed them? Who is setting singers up to believe that anyone who doesn’t sing a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera is a failure? Why are other options considered a step down? What can we do to ensure that the next generation of singers has new definitions for success? This is a great topic for the forum at http://www.classicalsinger.com —Editor

Dear CS: I am singing quite a bit locally in the NYC metro area with small local companies and getting paid, but am not singing anywhere regionally outside of the area. As you know, most regional companies require that singers have managers in order to audition with their company. Do you suggest getting a PR person to help promote us? Or can you suggest who is in your top 10-15% of agents who are “legitimate and can help get singers auditions?” I believe this would be a good topic article in your upcoming issues. —Helen Fanelli

I don’t recommend hiring a PR person until you have something to publicize. In the same vein, I don’t think singers need a manager until they have something to manage. As we’ve said before, in our research published in Management: The Book , we found that a third of all singers working in U.S. houses did so without management, or at least had no management publicized. New York City Opera and nearly every regional house will hear good singers without management. One singer told us that the Met had hired her from hearing her sing somewhere else and counseled her not to get a manager! The trick is to let a company know you are a good singer and worth hearing. Know your product [see editorial, p. 5]. If opera is the right niche for your current “product,” and you already have good credits singing with small companies, do you have reviews you could send out? Can you get a few letters of recommendation from prominent people? Will a director who likes your work make a phone call for you? Many companies who will only hear managed singers when auditioning in New York, will hear unmanaged singers at their home location. Are you willing to take small roles and work your way up in a larger regional company—even if it costs you money? Have you contacted conductors about concert work? Inviting a general director to a local performance can open doors, even if he can’t come. And…have you considered Europe? —Editor