Opera training in the time of Covid...
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
I've been looking to write a blog for a few years now. I have so many ideas about giving an insiders look into the life of an opera singer!
So, what are opera singers doing right now? No one is currently working thanks to Covid-19.
I'll be honest, I had almost zero motivation at the beginning. I was trying to continue to refine Dido (before this summer's season was postponed), but it's difficult to study a character with poor mental health right now. Everyone's anxiety and depression are at an all-time high, including mine.
However, I have been getting antsy over the last month or so. I'm ready to work and be an artist again. You don't need a stage do that.
Here's what's been going on in my living room:
I have LOVED diving into languages! I picked French a few months ago because I already had the basics down from living in Montréal for two years. Now is a perfect time to completely immerse yourself into another culture. While my husband is at work, I can choose to make my apartment a french-only zone. I found a few polyglot videos on Youtube and they have great advice! They seem to be pretty good at multiple languages, so why not learn from the best? I have also been reading Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner. Fun fact: He is a former classical singer, so there are great tips from that perspective!
My main goal is to be able to read through my scores with little to no outside help for translating. Of course, I am practicing speaking as well. I have so many friends that are French speakers!
Fluent Forever: https://fluent-forever.com/book/
Polyglot Gathering: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_8BR59zKgBzeWPxFtmHSwA
We saved up for a digital piano and it has been the best purchase of 2020! I've been playing through my old piano books to develop the basics. I certainly can't play my Mozart accompaniments, but I can play Caro mio ben in C major. That counts for something, right?
Seminars, Masterclasses, and Voice Lessons Online
While it's not perfect, I have honestly loved taking lessons online. I live an hour away from my voice teacher. Any time I have a lesson, it takes up three hours of my day and costs me in gas money as well. I have also been able to connect with people I never thought possible! I have been using a combination of recorded accompaniments from pianist friends and the Accompanist App. It works, but not the same as making music in person.
There have also been a number of masterclass and seminar series that have been incredibly inspiring! Fort Worth Opera has been doing a FREE masterclass series with Jennifer Rowley every Saturday. The chat section is so positive and the singers are at different stages in their careers! Chicago Opera Theatre also has one called Inner Workings that talks about the other side of the table.
Of course, I am also participating in online training. A few weeks ago, I attended the VIVA Festival with Opera Project Columbus. It was a week of classes on various topics such as language, character building, and singing in Europe. Starting Monday, I'll begin a two-week intensive training program with Dandelion Opera Institute. We will be receiving Italian lessons four days a week, coachings, drama coachings, voice lessons, business classes, and master classes! While tickets are required to observe these events, it's for a great cause. The money goes back into a scholarship fund for the active participants so they can continue to coach with the faculty after the program. With an online audition season coming up, this is huge!
Inner Workings: https://www.chicagooperatheater.org/events/inner-workings/
Jennifer Rowley Masterclasses with FWO: https://www.fwopera.org/jennifer-rowley-masterclass
Dandelion Opera Institute: https://dandelionoperainstitute.com/support-us/
Not everyone will be in a place of working right now, and that's okay! You need to do what you think is best for YOU. I've been reminding myself that opera will be on the other side of this pandemic. The format may look different, but we will sing again. Art always survives.
Photo by KortneeKatePhotography