The first opera I ever saw was Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera (setting the bar high). It was my junior or senior year at Muhlenberg College, and my voice teacher was slowly exposing me to classical music (I had entered college at the age of 18 with the dream of being on Broadway. That all changed when I realized how operatic my voice was. My Broadway dreams turned into an Opera obsession). She suggested that we take a field trip with one other student to New York City to attend an opera at the Met. Seeing that both students were sopranos, Christa (my voice teacher) chose Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. I was still new to opera, and quite frankly, didn’t care which opera we saw. I was just excited to go.
One of the most important facts about opera is the essence of what it means in Italian, to “work”, and to do the daily work. As opera singers, we often hear questions like where do you “work”? Or what do you “do”. Or the ever favorite, what is your real “job”? These questions are a challenge for any singer to answer and is usually followed by our blank stare and the reservation not to say, well, “you are looking at it.” Even in our own minds we are far more legitimate than our last performance, because we are constantly working on what is coming up next. The truth is that we are always doing “work”, whether walking around humming scales, rehearsing lines in our heads, or gathering at the theater to run through shows. Our preparation is the equivalent of a behind-the-scenes-think-tank of an internet start-up. That’s why if you hire an opera singer temporarily you will have the most efficiency and best output in any given task, so they can get to their real work of more singing. However, it is key to know that as hard as we work, we do play even harder. (more…)