Today I am working on getting schedules coordinated for an opera ensemble show that I'm organizing for March. I don't mind doing it, and I love the fact that I am able to create opportunities for myself in this way, but it reminds me why I am a singer and not a director. I like to be the one on stage, whose only job is to sing and create a character. I prefer not to have much to do with the administrative side of performances, and to focus on the music. I do a lot of administrating at my day job, so maybe this is why.
I've learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes drama of production and administration in the last five years, and I have to say, while it may not be physically demanding labor, psychologically, it can be grueling work. On the flip side-- it's taught me so much about how to behave in my life as a performer. I've learned how frustrating it can be when people don't respond, don't send bios, photos, program information on time, have unreasonable demands, etc. I wonder if performers realize we are not trying to be annoying, we are trying to HELP them? As production/administrators, we are here to make the performance work, be viable and well-attended and professional, complete with publicity and a beautiful program. And while I have learned not to take any of it personally, and I know artists are busy, over-extended, and have to work very hard for the money they make in this country, it still feels a little annoying when they don't send you what you need to promote THEM.
No one associated with my little opera ensemble has ever given me a moment of trouble like this, because I've learned to choose very carefully who to work with. And it usually includes people who are good about correspondence-- to a certain extent. We all know that it takes less than a moment to dash off an email, so being busy is rarely an excuse.
As a singer, I try to do little things to make my own life easier and more convenient, so that I can be prompt in providing info when it's asked for. Like making sure I always have a updated Word doc of my resume in my email account somewhere, and a re-sized headshot that won't put an admin's email over quota. If I were really organized, I would have one on my blackberry too...must get to that.
I am inspired every day by the friends of mine who have taken it upon themselves to create new outlets for singing here in Baltimore. I KNOW how hard they are working to pull it off. We singers are SO grateful for the care they take and work they put in to promote the art form in our town. Sometimes it's difficult to find time and money to attend performances, but I am trying harder to make it happen, and get myself out to the shows to support the enormous effort of these young companies.
Some of my favorite operatic memories of this past season include the companies I'm thinking of as I write... Sara Stewart as Nedda in Baltimore Concert Opera's I Pagliacci, and The Figaro Project's fun, fun, fun, fabulous inaugural show.
I know, because I am not living under a rock, that the arts are struggling in our economy, and I know I am struggling in our economy, but I see so many lovely opportunities springing up for singers that it give me lots and lots of hope.