Op-Eds

An open letter to audition candidates

An open letter to audition candidates

Panels don't often offer feedback to candidates: it's time-consuming and usually difficult to successfully administrate in the aftermath of a set of auditions. So here's a general note I wish I could send to everyone who auditions for me:

Laura Attridge
Stop shaming Adele

Stop shaming Adele

We can do better. We can espouse and proclaim the value of vocal health, technique, and efficiency, while recognizing with great respect and awe the beauty in non-traditional voices, and overcoming the professional and territorial myopia that threatens to rob us of our innate desire to hear the gift of a great voice raised in song.

Paul E. Kwak, MD
The big, and ever-present, "what's next?"

The big, and ever-present, "what's next?"

From the perspective of my relatively secure, European composer bubble, the amount of exposure I received between the announcement of, and participation in, Frontiers bordered on empowering and overwhelming, with a dash of terror for good measure. The response I received from audiences, colleagues, and the staff of Fort Worth Opera affirmed my Brand — "I am becoming a better opera composer" — for the foreseeable future.

Frank Pesci
Preparing for performance: what I didn't know I knew

Preparing for performance: what I didn't know I knew

I've always been amazed how the rehearsal process produces in me a higher awareness of what I have written. To think that I know every motivation behind every note and gesture is, for me, conceit. I need another's inquiries to drag out the nuggets of meaning and all the things I didn't know I knew about the piece.

Frank Pesci
Taking tweed seriously: lessons for the emerging opera composer

Taking tweed seriously: lessons for the emerging opera composer

I could easily represent myself as a safe choice, saying, in effect, "I'm not going to be a problem for you. I’m not one of those crazy egocentric composers who is going to make ridiculous demands and make you sorry you wanted to work with me." I can assuage these preconceptions with a picture that pretty much sums me up: "I'm normal! I'm a nice guy! I'm wearing tweed, for God's sake!"

Frank Pesci
Self-Doubt: The Accidental Manual

Self-Doubt: The Accidental Manual

I can a) quit doing this thing I love and just sit in a corner, or, b) do a diffident, guarded, joyless job of it because I'm hyper-aware of their negative opinions, and making room for their big important opinions is more important to me than my own fulfilment and mental health. (The latter is my default — that's where I'm most likely to go when the self-doubt gets to me.)

Isaiah Bell
A fine mess: an emerging opera composer vs. the American new opera machine

A fine mess: an emerging opera composer vs. the American new opera machine

I soon learned that cold-shopping an out-of-the-box stage work is a thorny, if not downright impossible, proposition. In the autumn of 2015, I reached out to roughly 200 small- to medium-sized American opera companies. In a 100-word email, I introduced myself and asked for a five-to-ten-minute phone conversation about trends in the commissioning and production of new opera (a subject that obviously interested me but was benign enough for an initial discussion).

Frank Pesci
A game of "would you rather" or, please prove me wrong

A game of "would you rather" or, please prove me wrong

Oftentimes, the singers who spend most - or all - of their time singing the tragic operas by Puccini, Verdi, maybe a bit of Donizetti and Gounod, tend to have acting skills that are less well-honed. That's in comparison to singers who perform a lot of new opera, Baroque opera, and subtler stuff by the likes of Britten, Janáček, Shostakovich, and even Wagner and Strauss.

Jenna Simeonov
Take a joke, have a nap

Take a joke, have a nap

We may feel a bit miffed, but for the people who did find Roker's joke blatantly funny, we are not going to change their minds by shouting "disrespect!" and tsk-tsking them for laughing. If the feared stereotype is that opera is uptight and snoozeworthy, we are not proving them otherwise by telling Roker that he's "embarrassing".

Jenna Simeonov
Taking the leap from freelance to full-time

Taking the leap from freelance to full-time

Throughout my freelance life, more often than not, the workload-to-compensation ratio was astronomically out of balance, but it soon became apparent that this was more of the rule than the exception. And of course, most of us accept these conditions because this is how we get work and experience, in the hopes that it will lead to bigger and better gigs where that ratio will hopefully seem a little more civilized.

Vanessa Chumbley

Unlike other sites, we're keeping Schmopera ad-free. We want to keep our site clean and our opinions our own. Support us for as little as $1.00 per month.