from Here to There
by Joan Dornemann
love working with singers. I am so fortunate that, entirely
by accident, I happened upon the career of opera coach. I think
we literally never really do know what is just around the corner
and what opportunity lies waiting for us, if we just have enough
courage to recognize it and to take it.
It is a wonderful career. In more than 25 years at the Metropolitan Opera, I have had the privilege of working with the greatest singersóand with beginning singers as well, during my time as part of the Metropolitan Opera competition. What I have never come across is a perfect singer. Iíve known many singers who are perfectly terrific, and perfectly thrilling, and perfectly wonderful. But perfect? No. But I know this is a perfectly wonderful time for singers! Never mind the economic situation.
We have increased access to more information for young singers than ever before. We have more teachers who are willing to share everything they ever learned, which was not the case some 25 years ago. We have more young artist programs. We have more summer programs.
As singers, you have more opportunities to make contacts, to treat yourself as a professional person, to avail yourself of the programs that really give you the opportunity to become a professional person, to work as one and to live as one. Twenty years ago, you couldnít get a book with all the phonetics written into it. You had to do all that work yourself. You could not avail yourself of all the information available on the Internet.
I believe we need to have more purpose in the preparation of our young singers. Singers need to know that the purpose of an aria and opera is to perform it. Thatís what itís all about, performing. Itís about your communication with an audience. Itís about your ability to make music, to understand the style, your ability to bring out in your performance that which brings the opera to life for the listener.