Last spring, Christina approached me and said, “let’s take an epic trip to Italy this summer.” I thought about it and responded, “Let’s take an epic trip to Italy, sing opera, and attend a program that will help further our careers.” So, we started researching the many opportunities for aspiring opera singers to choose from on YAP tracker, a well-known listing service for opera and classical music auditions. After reading through each listing located in Italy and trying to pinpoint what was financially attainable, we found a program we were interested in, but were not prepared for the response we received from the director. When I asked if there were scenes or full operas being performed in the program, I was shocked that the response focused more on the current state of opera.
Here is an excerpt:
[The program is] actually a mixture of opera and American musical theatre. In your studies, you might have noticed that American music is more popular in Italy than Italian opera. Unfortunately, only about five percent of Italians continue to listen to opera…a similar statistic to the U.S. This program is built to equip singers for this new opening market by featuring “legit” musical theatre numbers and continued training in Italian music.
Now, we have absolutely nothing against musical theater or “American music” as stated because honestly we both started from that background. But our intent was to go to Italy to perform Italian opera, and practice the language in a place closely related to the art form’s origins, not to prepare for a “new opening market,” and work with someone who doesn’t fully believe that opera can stand on its own. I find myself having to continually defend opera to myself, others, and jarringly now to this director. Has everyone given up on opera? As the story goes, we both politely declined and made the more sound decision to attend the Mediterranean Opera Studio in Caltagirone, Sicily. We ran our own online fundraisers successfully to get us there, and when we arrived we were surrounded by dedicated singers, coaches, and teachers that not only believe in the art of opera, but are immersed in it daily. It was truly an amazing experience and confirmed our new idea.
We believe that there is an entire thriving generation of young people who are interested in what we do as singers and as aspiring artists. These people are our friends, family, and acquaintances we meet everyday who see us living and enjoying life as singers. Why? Because it’s obvious we are in love with what we do. Last season at The Metropolitan Opera, Chrissy attended the opening night of The Death of Klinghoffer, and upon seeing the protests caused by the controversial production, it was clear to see that opera is still relevant in our society.
We, as singers, believe opera is that important. We just need to make everyone else see that as well and it must start with us. I am aware that to most people, opera is viewed as elitist and only for the highly educated or wealthy. Many will resist the thought of going to an opera, and others may balk at our concept. It is for this reason we want to find creative and modern ways to present the art form to the public – to everyone, rich, poor, etc – while still remaining true to its traditions. We are singing artists. We are still learning, evolving, and creating. We have an urge to share opera and we want to help make the world more familiar with it in relevant, inclusive and positive ways.
Just over a year ago, Chrissy, Ana, and I were meeting at Argo Tea in Columbus Circle to discuss how to get opera to become more popular amongst our age group. It was then that we started a blog called “Poshies NYC”. It first began as a way to express ourselves in a fun, chic, and accessible medium to our non-singing friends. As cute as the name sounded, we kept having to explain it’s meaning (which became exhausting), so recently we decided to change our name to something more personal and suitable, to JACOPERA – the JAC stands for Jen, Ana, and Chrissy. The three of us divas are evolving as singers, young artists, and single women in the New York City, San Francisco, and European landscapes. We are still perfecting our craft, finding our motivation, focus, and balance between coachings, lessons, rehearsals, auditions, dates, non-dates, relationships, non-relationships, family, friends, traveling, working, teaching, networking, listening, expressing, and all this while staying positive and maintaining a determination to succeed. Not all singers are destined for great careers, but that isn’t the point. Everyone has their own unique dreams and desires to pursue. This is ours, right now. We are not an opera company, we are merely singers who are interested in pursuing what we love and spreading its joys to everyone we know.
So, if you see us around on social media you will know what we are up to. We will be planning concerts together later in the year and will keep you posted. In the meantime, we’ve decided to take up the motto, “live a life worth singing about,” for ourselves and for opera’s sake.
Check us out when you have a chance:
We also had the bright idea to make t-shirts for purchase: unitedstatesofadiva.spreadshirt.com
Thanks for visiting, and for your support. It means the world to us.
~ J, A, & C