I'm still a new kid on the Opera block. When I joined the Opera Memphis team as the Marketing and Outreach Associate in October, I knew...well...that I liked opera. But any of the fine points? Nope. While I've certainly learned a lot more about the operas themselves, what I've most enjoyed is learning about this whole world of auditions, costume shops, and weird tax nuance. Here are my favorite new learnings from thus far in my opera administrative career!
1. The Met Auditions are a little like American Idol. Judges travel the country, auditioning people who then compete in regionals. Those who go onto the semi-finals audition more at the Met. Some of them end up in the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Program. This is a big leg up for what will probably be a promising career! So even though there’s no JLo or Keith Urban, you do get evaluated by incredibly talented people such as Vinson Cole.
2. Opera singers’ taxes are super complicated. They travel to so many places and end up with a sea of 1099’s. Think a giant pile of state returns. I’ll never complain about entering a W-2 in again.
3. Those nice, crisp programs you’ll either glance through or read religiously depending on your style and then shove under your seat as the Overture begins? They take A LOT of work. Those beautiful margins and perfect alignments don’t happen by magic.
4. We have serious conversations about where the giant fake rocks live in our storage area, which inevitably leaves you in awe of your production director’s powers not only to fit weird things into storage but keep track of said things as well.
5. Recital attire is a thing. It’s a big deal for singers to have pretty clothes, look magically elegant, and yet not distract from their mellifluous voices. It’s also way easier to be a guy in this regard because you can just rent a tux.
6. Companies own weird and wonderful things, like a Godzilla costume.
7. There are Opera groupies! People travel far and wide to go see operas! People will book hotels and flights and to go see shows they love and singers they adore.
8. Standing ovations are more or less common depending on where you are in the world. In the Southern United States, they happen just because people had a nice time and want to appreciate the performers’ efforts to entertain them. In Europe, they’re rather rare and mark a particularly awe-inspiring performance, which is the more traditional use of a standing ovation. (No judgment regarding either proclivity, but what an interesting difference!)
9. Guys don’t get flowers at the end of operas. This is a bummer, because I’m all for equal opportunity floral-based recognition.
10. Mozart is a divisive composer when it comes to opera, but if you put his or his wife’s face on a chocolate filled with pistachio and marzipan, we’re suddenly all on board! (See the image at the top to get a glimpse of this magical, musical treat!)