Opera Singer

Opera Singer

MezzoGirl

Los Angeles, CA

Female, 29

I sing beautiful music -- primarily opera -- but I also do concert work, church music, studio/scoring sessions, and whatever other performance opportunities I can get my hands on.

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Last Answer on July 03, 2020

Best Rated

What cities provide the most opportunities for aspiring opera singers?

Asked by tinaF over 8 years ago

In the US, New York is the best place to be as there are many regional companies and most opera companies hold auditions in NYC. However, I'd say if you're just starting out, especially if you're looking at schools, the important thing is to look for cities that have several regional companies. If you are looking into a school, talk to them about what their students are doing professionally while getting their education.

I just saw Rigoletto in Toronto, and the press here lauded the male lead, Quinn Kelsey, as a sensational talent (and he was great). Have you heard of him? In opera circles are there certain performers who are generally considered 'in a league of their own' talent-wise?

Asked by Kyle over 8 years ago

I hadn't heard of him until your post, so thank you! His voice is beautiful. He has audio up at www.quinnkelsey.com if anyone wants to enjoy his lush baritone. To address your second question, singers tend to be identified by the companies they sing at (A, B, C houses, which are categorized by funding, but naturally usually have increased production and talent values). But throughout every company, people are listening to not only the singer's voice & artistry, but where they could go next. Frequent backstage talk would include "has X heard you yet? They love your kind of voice." So while there are definite levels of singers and some people you bow down to (often on stage quite literally), everyone knows the next great talent may be on the stage with them.

Have you always known you wanted to be a singer, or did the passion develop over time?

Asked by highC over 8 years ago

I've always wanted to be a singer. I would drive my family crazy with incessant concerts that I would give them. But no one in my family cared much for music, so I had to find resources on my own. So my talent, technique and focus took longer to develop than if I had a mentor to help me figure out the path.

What made you choose opera instead of more contemporary music?

Asked by trip_lol1 over 8 years ago

I came to opera seriously only after college. Although I studied classical voice technique, I was still thinking of going into music theater and acting primarily. But suddenly, opera knocked me over the head and I committed. I love opera because it's so expressive. I'm also a total research geek and love learning about the composers, music styles, history and all the amazing components of a well-rounded performance of that specific opera. Singing such gorgeous music that, in many cases, was written for audiences long ago and translating it to the audience in front of me makes me feel such a strong connection to the music and history. And then when I get to work with new composers, it makes me feel connected to another aspect of the musical creation. There's so much depth in opera. The lyrics in the Komponist aria in Ariadne auf Naxos pretty much sums it up!

What do you do to keep your voice in good shape? Do you go out of your way to talk less since you became an opera singer?

Asked by kuffs over 8 years ago

Oh I think my friends and family would love if I spoke less! I do try to avoid going out to places I'll talk too loudly during productions. But otherwise, I just make sure I exercise enough and get good rest. If I'm not feeling 100%, I drink hot water with lemon, sleep a bit extra, avoid talking at length, especially if I'm on medicine which tends to dry the throat... And on planes, I love using the Andas inhaler to keep my throat hydrated which keeps me healthy and relaxed. But truly, exercise is the best thing for the voice. While it is frustrating to get sick or vocally tired, those things are hopefully occasional. But overall health, strength and a relaxed body are what makes a voice sound great.

Do you practice singing at home, and if so, how do your neighbors feel about it?

Asked by Kim over 8 years ago

I usually practice in a studio (and way too often in my car). But I do also practice at home. I give my neighbor's my cell # so that if they need me to be quiet, I'll do so. So far, they've never called, which I think is because I was proactive about it and don't sing too early nor late and check in with them occasionally on it.

Some mainstream artists (like Jay-Z) have begun using opera in their music. Love it or hate it?

Asked by grant over 8 years ago

I love it! Anything that makes music more expressive is good for me. Plus, opera sounds so foreign to most people the first time they hear it. Why not make it more intriguing to a larger audience? It does irk me when people are called opera singers but use pop vocal techniques against operatic repertoire. But, that's just my pet peeve. I'm so glad when someone can start feeling more comfortable with classical music, whatever the reason. And music should be subjective. That's why we need so much of it -- everyone should have different and wide-ranging tastes.

What are an opera singer's primary sources of income?

Asked by BarkerB over 8 years ago

Hopefully, your opera contracts. But the great thing about singing is that you have many sources of income: church, chorus and concert work, recording sessions, private events, teaching ... I was at a singer's workshop recently with Dan Montez and he made a great point: if you have a full-time job, you could lose 100% of your income in a day. But if you're a singer, you probably have many sources of income and if you lose one of them, it won't break you. It was a different perspective than most people's usual stream of thought/panic about freelance work! Also, if you know how to sight-read well, you can get booked for many more jobs. If you don't, contact AFTRA or AGMA and see if they sponsor any classes to help you with sight-singing. In LA, there's a fantastic sight singing class through AFTRA (you don't have to be a member to participate but you do get a discount if you are) -- Music1on1.com has the details. It's especially great for score recording session singing technique and a fabulous place to network. They also do events to meet session contractors, discuss demos and marketing and other such workshops.

Is it really possible to shatter a glass with your voice?

Asked by Tim over 8 years ago

Yes, but there are many factors that would have to be in place (and be precisely executed) to make that happen -the singer singing the glass's resonating tone and the loudness of the voice as well as defects in the glass. Here's a link to an incredible article on the topic in Scientific America that also cites a taped experiment proving the unassisted voice can shatter glass on Myth Busters. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-opera-singer-can-shatter-glass

Ever have an on-stage catastrophe? (e.g. voice-crack, forgotten line)

Asked by m0rsec0de over 8 years ago

I once worked with a colleague who got a little over-excited and created new stage combat blocking, which included grabbing me by the throat … hard. I was scared as I didn't know what he'd do next and if I moved, I could have helped him hurt me further. I then had to sing a duet and calming myself down was a challenge. From that, I learned to make sure that talk to the fight coordinator separately if there are any concerns. I was aware that he got like this in performance, but was hoping for the best rather than discussing it in advance. In my attempt to not make waves, I got bruised and scratched. By ignoring my instincts, I became part of the problem. Being a good colleague is so important. We should trust each other on and off stage, but if there are concerns, talk to someone in the company about the best way to address them with your colleague if you don't feel that you'll be calm or confident enough to address it in a neutral, non-confrontational way. And having a mentor who can act as a sounding board for how to best handle such situations before involving anyone at the company is such a help. My teacher is a fantastic mentor in that regard. Knowing when to speak up and when to let something go is a difficult balancing act to do on your own, especially when your reputation equals your career!

How did you land your first part in an opera production?

Asked by highC over 8 years ago

My first professional opera contract was offered to me because I was in Arizona State's production and the conductor was asked to present it for the Connecticut Early Music festival, so he pretty much took the whole university cast with him.

What kind of training is required to perform opera at the professional level?

Asked by marksman over 8 years ago

Vocal technique, music history, music theory, coaching with specialists in the repertoire you're working on, piano, acting, movement, diction (if you don't know the International Pronunciation Alphabet, learn it!) and business management/finance. I think the self-employed singer has to have their business skills set so that one can focus on the creative and technical aspects of being a singer without the stress of over-worrying about finances and such. Plus, you can see the progress you're making and where you need to put greater attention when you have a specific plan with goals. If you're still in school, take marketing and small business finance or something comparable. If you're out of school, you might want to find courses at a local college for this.

You mentioned that you were planning on going into music theater before doing opera. Since there are no music theater actors on Jobstr (yet), can you mention some non-NYC cities that are good for aspiring music theater performers?

Asked by Jolene over 7 years ago

Really, it's NYC if that's what you want to do. You could try living in Chicago if you're great with comedy and want to do that as well. Or LA if you're interested in the film/TV world. But if you want music theater, live in or around NYC. You can audition for cruise lines and theme parks that utilize music theater talent well and have you living in different places for long stretches of time. But you need to be around where the auditions are- and the vast majority are in NYC. Auditioning is the biggest part of your job when you're starting off.

Do opera singers use microphones during performances?

Asked by kurlyQ over 7 years ago

Not usually. Sometimes there are microphones above the stage or on the floors to pick up the sound for houses that are not acoustically set up for opera, but not individual mic's. Opera singers train to use the spaces in their facial mask to create our own amplification. With the range of what we sing, both dynamically and the wide range of pitches, it's very challenging to individually mic singers. Most opera singers can't stand being miked since you lose a lot of vocal color when using mic's too close to your face. There definitely are amazing sound engineers out there to make things sound good, but we enjoy relying on our technique to produce the proper sound for what we're expressing.

For people who don't like opera, is there a particular album or show that you'd recommend that might change their minds?

Asked by Jwilly over 8 years ago

I think it depends on what interests you. For instance, my mother is not a music fan and the fact that I sing has driven her nuts for years. Then one day, she called me and said that she really wanted to try to like opera. After my initial shock, I suggested that we see Carmen together. The music is very familiar to most people (the Habanera is one of the most famous songs ever written), it's about a sexy gypsy who makes men fall in love with her, there's dancing, sex, color, murder...you name it. My mother still didn't like that one. Finally, I realized that she'd probably like an opera that dealt with history. We both love history, so we chose Giulio Cesare, which deals with his time in Egypt with Cleopatra. It's early opera, so I would usually not suggest it as a first opera as it can feel a bit stiff to an audience used to seeing a lot of action in their entertainment. The result, my mom finally decided to "Like" me on Facebook! Most opera companies usually have a Q&A before certain performances and those will definitely help you understand the opera more- story, context, music to listen for, etc. Here are some ideas for what might interest you: Sex= Carmen, Samson et Dalila Comedy= Marriage of Figaro History= Giulio Cesare, Anna Bolena (at the Met & Met HD live broadcasts now) Drama= La traviata Musical Theater= La Boheme (if you liked Rent, you'll love La Boheme-same thing really except trade HIV for consumption) Fairytales= Hansel & Gretel (sometimes going to a children's opera first helps as they're shorter and have simple plot lines, and usually sung in the native tongue of whatever country you're in.) Enjoy the opera (I hope)!

Do opera singers smoke? Or is that an absolute no-no?

Asked by Queen B over 7 years ago

They shouldn't, but some still do! In the US, it's rare, but overseas, many people still smoke. I don't know how they do it, but I guess they have lungs of steel. I say it's a no-no, but some make it work.

Is opera competitive? Are there a lot of politics when it comes to choosing leads, or does the best voice usually win out?

Asked by Seth about 7 years ago

It's very competitive, especially in America as there are not many houses in the States. There are a lot of politics in opera, like in everything. But it's sometimes efficient to go with someone you trust or know or who has a following that will sell tickets, so I can't judge it too much. You just have to be prepared for the moment when someone takes a chance on you. More often than not, it's dependendability over politics. I've sung with people who just knock my socks off, and I am so happy to recommend them for gigs because recommending great pros makes me look even better. But then others will come unprepared for a gig and people remember that, too.

It definitely is who you know, but there are so many great people in opera that forget about the politics at least for a while and just enjoy who you're working with and who you're working for. And then the 'politics' will start to work out in your favor if you're doing the work on your performance. And a great voice will get heard, so just keep singing until the right person hears it. 
 

Do opera singers look down on more modern, contemporary music?

Asked by screech over 8 years ago

Some do. And some look down on those who look down on contemporary music. Personally, I love it, especially when you're getting to sing music for the first time ever. Contemporary opera is challenging in a whole other way for singers, so it can be daunting. It's fantastic to find companies that specialize in contemporary opera since you know that the artistic & production values will be high, and the audience will be excited. As for modern, contemporary music that's more mainstream (pop, hip hop, rock), some singers don't listen to it, which is a shame. It's hard to find the time for listening to anything other than what you're working on when you're a singer. However, I've learned so much from the passion of Dave Grohl's performances, the storytelling of metal & hip hop, how to speak to an audience seeing Jason Mraz in coffee houses & Michael Buble at the Greek, the way to use your voice like an instrument from the great jazz singers (listen to Sinatra and you can hear how he does 'trombone' slides with his voice...it's really cool) and perhaps most importantly as a woman in sometimes revealing costumes-the importance of wardrobe tape from the pop divas. For me, all music makes me a better musician. Even when I hate it, I try to learn from it- what do I hate, what am I resisting, and , why, why are my lovely lady lumps moving like that when my brain is utterly disgusted by those terrible lyrics?

Does being fat help opera singers?

Asked by PhxTom over 8 years ago

The jury's still out on this from the research I've done, but it does seem that larger ribcages have their advantages in singing. Almost every singer's ribcage will expand in size, which may also just give the appearance of heaviness as well. But that doesn't mean that large voices and long phrases can't come out of smaller framed people. The 'largeness' of a voice comes from the resonating cavities in the head combined with the amount of strength and release in the singer's body. Singing is so much about how you use and release body tension. It's a very physical art. Also, singing makes me insanely hungry, so perhaps people don't make the right choices after singing til 11p at night (I always have a healthy snack right after I'm out of costume). My teacher and I have discussed the differences in body types and singing as I'm smaller and more athletic. Some of the sensations that come from extra weight that are technically very useful, I just can't identify. So I have to find other sensations. I find that strength training and running really helps me because of my size. Having the sensation of a lower center of gravity gives me extra 'weight' while singing.

Is there a peak age for an opera singer? At what age does the human voice begin to deteriorate?

Asked by Liz about 7 years ago

It really depends on the person. Most sopranos and tenors mature into their voices sooner than mezzos and baritones/basses. Usually, the voice matures around mid-20s or early 30s and then the voice shifts again in your 50s. Some singers will stop singing in the 50s or 60s. But, with good technique, good health and depending on the person, there's no certain age peak. Placido Domingo is still singing beautifully and he's in his 70s now. 

Are there certain kinds of beverages that opera singers drink a lot of to keep their voice/throats in good shape?

Asked by jaclyn farber over 7 years ago

Singers are notorious for having a million 'tricks of the trade' for what to drink, what to eat and what not to drink or eat. But, of course, it's all what works for you individually. Keeping well hydrated with plain ole water is probably the most universal answer. Personally, I like to have hot lemon water morning and night if my throat is feeling raw from allergies or anything. Some people need to avoid caffeine. Others (like me), need it! Throat coat tea is well loved by many singers, although I don't like it myself. Avoiding alcohol the night before a performance and the day of is advisable, especially if you have reflux issues. Plus, if you haven't seen the 'drunk Carmen' clip on YouTube, check it out and you'll never take medication nor drink before a performance again. I really don't know what happened there, but I hope some drug was involved.

On another question you answered that a singer's voice is dependent on the "resonating cavities in the head combined with the amount of strength and release in the singer's body". Can you recommend an exercise or two to strengthen the voice?

Asked by Erik almost 7 years ago

I'd be wary of giving you exercises without hearing you & seeing what your doing. But, in general, good cardio fitness will strengthen your body and help with breath.  Seeing a teacher is the best way to move forward with exercises specific to your voice. Check out http://www.nats.org to find a teacher in your area. Bel Canto technique is the most recognized form of healthy singing technique. Finding a bel canto teacher who's a real technician is ideal. Here are some of the great opera singers discussing bel canto.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Beocer7gbLI It might not be what you're looking for, but you'll hear and see what they're doing to produce healthy tones. 

what challenges do you face that pop singers dont

Asked by eve over 6 years ago

There are so many differences in not only the vocal style, but the career of an opera singer verses a pop singer. I'm not sure how to answer as far as challenges go. But as an opera singer, you have to be more commited to the live performance aspect, being in full control of your vocal production at all times. Pop singers can frequently rely on auto-tuning or lip synching. And as far as live performances go, if the pop singer is expected to jump around and dance, I understand why the standard is to lip sync those songs. There are also many lifestyle differences between an opera singer and a pop artist. A pop artist can stay out all night partying and it's part of their job (getting photographed, networking, etc), but if an opera singer did that, our voices wouldn't be in their best condition the next day, so we have to be more careful of over-talking, drinking, getting enough sleep, etc. I'm sure this is the case of pop singers who are focused more on their music than their fame, but fame is a more important element in the career of a pop artist than for an opera singer. Opera is just not as 'of the moment' as pop music is. Longevity should be a goal in both careers of course, but the opera singer will look daily at longevity to make career decisions. I feel that this answer is a bit generalized, but hopefully it helps!

Is it dangerous to train for opera younger than a certain age? Can it damage young vocal chords if not done properly?

Asked by BRPP about 7 years ago

It's best to train classically after puberty due to the hormone changes during it. It's confusing for the young singer to learn proper technique while the instrument (primarily the vocal cords) is changing rapidly. I'd argue that giving the body time to adjust to the hormonal changes & growth development along with allowing for the maturity it takes to understand your body fully to connect to proper technique is advisable. 

While waiting the main part of puberty to pass, there are plenty of ways to prepare for a career in opera. Choral work, learning piano and other instruments, learning languages (Italian, German and French are recommended), attending concerts and performances, studying recordings and scores. Listening critically is one of the most important skills a singer can develop. 

I am an aspiring opera singer. I am also doing some nude modeling for photography. Could this potentially hurt my career? Thanks.

Asked by Anonymous about 7 years ago

It could, but if it's something that you're passionate about and feels that it represents you well, then you'll have to do what is best for you. And, there is occasionally nudity in opera, especially in Europe, so if they find that you're open to it, it may work to your advantage. But since everything is online nowadays, get final approvals on what's posted, if you can. Otherwise, it could be something that could effect future opportunities. Good luck with your decision!

Can you ever truly change your voice? For example if it's deeper to make it higher and vice versa or are you born with a certain vocal range?

Asked by anonymous over 6 years ago

You can extend your vocal range through training. Through proper training, you'll explore and see what the color, quality and range of your voice is and what you'll be able to do with it. If your voice naturally likes to sing in the higher range, most likely you'll be a soprano or tenor. If it's naturally lower, you'll probably be an alto, mezzo soprano, baritone or bass. Yet, many singers start training thinking that they're one voice type and develop into another. When I did music theater, I thought I was a soprano. Through training, I realized that I was a mezzo soprano. Developing my voice in the proper quality, my range has extended both lower and higher than I'd originally been able to sing. 

Any advice on how to achieve vibrato? How about belting a note? Thanks for the great answers :-)!

Asked by Anonymous follow-up over 6 years ago

Hi! Thanks for the compliment. It's my pleasure. Although- this one I feel is one that I think is best addressed by a teacher one-on-one. Vibrato should be a natural result of proper breath and support. Warm up with a few exercises to get your breath moving with proper support. The one exercise I'd think would help most is to sing "oo" at 2 note intervals (ie F-G, F#-G#, and on up the keys and down). Start slowly, almost 'sliding' between the notes- keeping the connection legato rather than singing them as 'separate' or staccato notes. Pick up the pace gradually until you're trilling betwen the notes. While trill isn't vibrato, it may help you get used to the sensation of oscillation. And it's a healthy vocal exercise regardless that will help you with pitch, support, legato and trilling.
I'm going to leave the belting question to your teacher as it's VERY important to have a healthy technique to belt. You can do a lot of vocal damage if you're not careful, the worst being vocal nodules that have to be surgically removed. Belting isn't the only way to get nodes- any lack of technique and too much singing (or even shouting, talking loudly etc) can cause noduals to form depending on the person's vocal health. But belting is definitely one of the areas of singing that really needs specific attention to the individual singer and would have to be addressed in person for vocal health.  

How do you feel about Jackie Evancho? I've heard people more well-versed in opera don't think she's good?

Asked by Anonymous over 6 years ago

I feel that Jackie Evancho is a lovely, talented girl and I am so glad that she is able to share her gifts and inspire people through music. But, she's very young to judge as an opera singer. She's not technically an opera singer at this point anyway. She's a young girl, who sings beautifully as a young girl (young voices frequently have more straight-tone than developed voices. I'm glad to hear that she's not forcing vibrato too often, but seems to incorporate it in her lower register). Her pitch and tone are lovely for the concert work she's doing. An opera singer doesn't use microphones and has to perform roles rather than just songs. From the little that I have seen of her however, I do think she is one of the "pop-era" singers who is actually learning and using classical technique and is putting a great deal of emotion and musicality into her work. Learning songs and working on technique is exactly the right path for someone who is her age now (I'd only recommend starting classical vocal technique around 13 or 14 and doing choral music before that). If she studies with a great teacher and wants to do the work, I don't see a reason that she wouldn't develop into an opera singer.

That being said, we as opera singers work our butts off to do what we do, so it's hard for some of us when people call Jackie Evancho or Josh Groban opera singers. Even though I don't consider what they do 'opera,' I'm very glad that they are introducing a larger audience to music that can be a gateway for more classical music and opera. 

Have any classically trained opera singers gone on to have big mainstream success in pop or other genres?

Asked by Meghan over 5 years ago

There are several classically trained singers who have gone into pop, although most opera singers seem to stay on the stage if they use their training for an opera career. And once upon a time, opera singers were the pop stars of their day! Some opera singers still go and do pop albums with limited success (I have a friend who loves Pavorotti's pop album, but wow, I guess it's for a specific audience...) Josh Groban & Sarah Brightman are 2 examples of classically trained singers who have huge pop-ra careers, although neither are opera singers. And Il Volo is a hugely successful group worldwide who sing pop classically. Also, most music theater stars have to train classically in addition to their music theater technique, such as Idina Menzel. Audra McDonald is one of the greatest crossover artists I can think of who uses a classical technique as the core of her work, with a great diversity of music theater, opera, jazz and more. And understanding of classical technique can help every vocalist, even if it's not the style that you want to sing with. I'd be curious to know if there are any metal singers with classical training as I think that style of singing would benefit the most from it. Metal singers' expansive, soaring ranges, story telling, breath support for huge phrases and the power they need for the intensity of performances are the same hallmarks of what makes opera exciting.

Is it possible for a small-town girl with a limited budget to make it, considering the hard work and the passion ?

Asked by Victoria about 6 years ago

Of course! I work with many small town raised singers who came from limited means, some of whom still are based in their hometown.

You absolutely have to do the hard work and have the passion though. It's an expensive field as far as the continual training goes, but find training programs that have scholarships available, apply for grants, once you're at competition level- compete. Assess what you have, what's available around you and where you want to go with your work. If you have a limited budget, I'd recommend finding a church job or teaching voice to offset your own expenses for training/coaches/competitions. Having one 'side job' that's music related that you can use that money alone for singing expenses, you'll feel more structured and will build career skills for yourself. 

I would consider going to a strong vocal program for university as the contacts & networking will be important if you want to stay mainly based in a small town. You'll have to leave the nest for stretches of time. But see what's in your area, and what's lacking- be creative... Maybe there's an opera company you can sing with that's near by and build a resume while staying in your town. Maybe you could start a children's program that teaches kids about opera that would benefit your hometown.

The best thing you can do is make a business plan to see what you have as far as assets and resources, what you'll need to do to accomplish your goals, what seems interesting to pursue, what aspects of the career aren't for you, etc. Once you have your business plan, make a monthly action plan for yourself. 

It's not an easy career, but it certainly is a wonderful one! I wish you all the best. 

What's the learning curve for singing assuming you're just average before seeing any results? Likewise, if you don't practice consistently, do you ever lose all that training?

Asked by Anonymous over 6 years ago

That's a hard question to answer! 

You'll get better based upon the commitment you have to your vocal training and your innate talent. Some people will advance more quickly because they get the right teacher and have a naturally wonderful voice. But you can also blow out a naturally wonderful voice if you don't have the commitment to healthy technique. You do have to practice consisentently to really get your techinque down so that you don't have to constantly think about it during performance. Because your voice is your instrument, it's important to continue to work on your technique- not because you'll lose the training necessarily, but more so because you are a living, changing, growing human and your voice will change due to age, hormones, increasing or decreasing exercise, stress, joy... The great thing about being a singer is that you don't have to lug a huge instrument case with you everywhere. Yet, that also is it's own challenge- your instrument is you!

I'd say that rather than worrying about time, to measure the results you're getting, go into your lessons with specific goals and questions for your teacher. For example, I'm going into a coaching today and am working on a really challenging minimalist aria. So, my goal today is to learn the aria and identify musical patterns during the coaching. After the coaching, I'll go through it and make notes about what expression/emotions/ideas come to me from the musical patterns. By having specific goals, I'm able to monitor my progress better than if I were to have the goal of "learn the aria."

Having goals as an artist will keep you on track for learning progress. If you have a specific goal and want me to give advice on that particularly, please write back!

thanks for your answer
I'm 25 years old,isn't late for learning singing opera?

Asked by Mahshid over 6 years ago

No, the great thing about classical voice is that as you mature, your voice gets better. It's best to start singing a bit earlier so you have more musical knowledge built up, but regardless, if you're passionate about it, go for it! The one thing to consider is that you'll 'age out' of some competitions and young artist programs in the next few years. But you can only start from where you are. Find a private voice teacher and start learning to read music if you don't read already. There are some great online resources for learning to read music. One resource that I'm aware of is https://www.lasightsinger.com/c/beginner-sightreading-lessons, which was created by a wonderful singer and teacher. He does a lot of film scores, jazz, pop, etc, so it's not strictly classical, but you'll learn to read music well from him. And if you want to read more about singing, Opera News is a great publication to read about the business, Classical Singer is another that's more geared towards people earlier in their studies (both available online as well as print magazines) and for vocal technical books, I like Bel Canto by James Stark. There are a ton of great books out there, but it's really best to study one-on-one with a teacher. Good luck!!!

hi
I'm Mahshid from Iran
i like to be an opera singer
but I don't know how can I undrestand that my sound is approprate or not
can you explain about voice?
thanks
Mahshid

Asked by MA over 6 years ago

Hi Mahshid! You simply have to start studying with a teacher to see how your voice can develop. Age plays a major part in what your teacher will have you do. If you are under 14, I'd recommend singing in the best choir you can be a part of in your area. I did a quick search as I'm not familiar with what's available to you in Iran. There is the Tehran Choir and the Tehran Vocal Ensemble. If Tehran is not close or if you're not old enough to audition for them, perhaps call and ask if they can recommend any local choirs or organizations you can reach out to. Also, studying piano or guitar, working on music theory, learning as many languages as you can (German, Italian and French are most important for opera), listening to operas and looking at the scores are all great ways to prepare yourself for singing. And start looking for a teacher. By 14, you can start singing with a private teacher to learn classical vocal technique. Starting in a choir will help you learn to read music, to listen to your colleagues, to learn musicianship and help you develop vocally. Choral singing is usually quite different than operatic classical voice, but you will learn skills that will be extremely useful in your training as an opera singer and you will develop a network of friends and colleagues who will be able to share information with you as to who they like studying with, what other local opportunities there are and such things. Good luck!!!

Hi I really wanted to know if opera singers can smoke or if any how smoking damages a singing voice. Im very curious about that.

Asked by Singer over 6 years ago

It's highly adviseable to avoid smoking and even avoid being around people who are smoking. However, for full disclosure, there are singers who do smoke. If you get throat or lung cancer, asthma or emphasima from smoking, that will clearly effect your ability to sing. Even in less dramatic cases, smoke dries out your vocal cords, which can create mucus and coughing, which doesn't help as a singer. But mostly, you'll have decreased lung capacity, and your ability to sustain your breath over long phrases is very important as an opera singer. I recommend avoiding smoking, but if you must, at least make sure that you observe good etiquette around your other colleagues and smoke in designated areas, or at least far from artist entrances and around your colleagues in general. As someone who has smoke-induced asthma, I am personally sensitive to this issue. But there's a wealth of information from doctors about vocal health online if you need more professional information. 

Can ANYone who has a good voice sing opera, or are there specific techniques and abilities required that make it challenging for some people who otherwise have a good voice?

Asked by TrezChic about 7 years ago

Hello! I'm so sorry I missed your question until now. Anyone can learn the technique of classical singing with a good teacher and commitment to learning. Your voice is the most important element of the success you'll have as an opera singer, but training in technique, musicianship, language skills, expression of the drama or comedy of the music, excellent listening skills and communication with the audience are all vital to the operatic singer.

Thank you for your previous answer. Do you know anything about The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen ? I want to apply there aftyer high-school because it's free and i have someone living there...Is it a good place to study at ? :)

Asked by Victoria about 6 years ago

Hi! I don't know anything about RDAM unfortunately. But, I would suggest that for any university that you're interested in, research the voice teachers and, if you can, take lessons with the one(s) you're interested in before deciding on where to go. Talk to the admissions counselor about your performance opportunities during your undergrad and any other goals that you have for your education. The more research and work on clarifying what you want from and expect out of your undergraduate degree, the better experience you will have. 

It's very helpful to go to a place where you can network with other singers and have your teachers help position you to get into good training programs. For high school and college students, I highly recommend reading Classical Singer Magazine. They have great articles on training programs, universities and other educational and professional interests. 

I hope this was helpful, even if it didn't answer your question directly!

What is my vocal type if my voice range from A3 to E4. i am a male with the age of 18 years old. thank you.

Asked by Swiftie1321 almost 6 years ago

Speaking from an operatic point of view, most likely, you'd be a tenor. However, 'fach' or 'voice type' is defined more by the passaggio and color of the voice rather than the range. There are many people who have extensive range within their fach, but their repertoire would be determined more by the color of their voice. Since you're 18, your voice will be maturing still. The male voice hits full maturity around your early 30's. But with proper training, you may notice soon if your voice wants to deepen and enjoy the lower, baritone register or release into the upper, tenor register more. That will determine whether you're truly a tenor or a baritone. Here are a couple of resources that can shed more light: http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Categories/categories.html and http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/umi-uncg-1296.pdf My best advice for finding your 'type' is to work with an operatic teacher and sing what you love to sing and feel the most free vocally in. 

What's the deal with the stereotype of heavy northern Europeans in viking helmets singing opera? Where did that come from?

Asked by ama over 5 years ago

Ha! Fun question! Probably from the Wagner craze. When Richard Wagner created the Ring Cycle, it was the opera equivalent of Lord of the Rings, but probably on a bigger scale internationally back in the day. Wagner's Ring was loosely based on Norse legend, hence the Viking helmets. 

And I think that the stereotype of a heavy singer came from the fact that in opera, the voice is the most important part of casting a singer. In most other forms of entertainment, looks play a bigger factor in the telling of the story. Nowadays, this is also creeping into opera, but you still see greater diversity in opera in many roles- 20 year old's playing 60 year olds, a 50 year old playing a 15 year old, a woman playing a teenage boy, men playing women, racial lines crossed... Looks are increasingly more important, but all of us singers and most companies are still trying to keep it about the voice. And, a sense of weight in the body can help 'ground' the voice- and with big voices, that can help. Physical builds can impact the way the voice is supported. Too much weight can cause trouble breathing of course, and being thin doesn't hurt a voice, although more muscle tone may be needed for better support. Opera singers use their bodies much like athletes do. The training is incredibly intense and specific. Since most women didn't exercise back in the olden days, I think having the extra weight would actually have helped in the absence of good muscle tone for the women. Hence, more heavy women singing. The modern opera audience member wouldn't find many of these stereotypes on stage any longer. Heavy, skinny, black, white, Asian, tall, short... and often, some of those singers are even "related" to each others characters!

How much do top opera stars make for a performance? How about the rest of the company and background performers?

Asked by douglas.ernst over 5 years ago

Wow. Sorry for the delayed response! Top stars can make great income from a combination of opera roles, concert work and recordings. Usually concerts pay better than roles. And at A houses, even the chorus makes a good living. But according to a study of 100 solo singers, the median income is $17,500 in America. Yikes! I don't have the study's name, but see this article's notes at the bottom: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-rivera/what-do-opera-singers-act_b_5569307.html I wonder if that factors in tax deductions, as singers usually have very high expenses associated with their careers in addition to not having consistent work.

In other countries however, singers are paid more in general. Many American singers go over to Europe to make a living and then some can come back to the States with more stature and hopefully get more money for their work. Europe also has many more opera houses with larger seasons, which makes getting work at least statistically easier.

Hello,
I am a twenty three year old psychology student and have been a singer my entire life. I wish to be a professional world class, classical singer one day. I was just wondering how I would start. Please advise.

Thank You so much,
Dale G.

Asked by Kingsing over 5 years ago

Hi Dale! Have you been studying privately or at your college with a teacher who is a classical technician? If not, that's the best place to start. NATS.org is a reputable place to start looking for a teacher. But if you have any opera singers in your area whose technique you admire, ask them about their teachers. Opera technique takes a while to develop, but after you and your teacher feel that your technique and performance ability is strong enough, you can start applying for young artist programs and local productions. It also is worth investigating majoring in vocal performance as well. Grad school is where most people's opera careers begin. Good luck!

Is there a specific definition of what constitutes "opera" vs some other style?

Asked by Opman over 5 years ago

At its core, opera is a story told through music- with vocalists acting the story through song and staging & the orchestra also telling the story through the score. Opera's definition seems to be expanding over the recent years. Many people say that it's the lack of unsung dialogue or lack of artificial amplification that makes it opera, but there are exceptions to those rules that still are usually considered 'opera'. For me, what separates opera from music theater is the emphasis on the relationship of the voice and the orchestra (which requires a classical vocal technique), along with a fully formed presentation of a story. There are also oratorio, art song cycles and other performance mediums that tell stories through a classical vocal technique. but those are not presented as theatrical stagings. Sorry, this is a nebulous answer. Yet I think that nebulousness makes it an exciting medium; one which is expanding beyond stereotypes and even definitions.

Is there a medicine that I can take to make my voice sound like an opera singer I am a choir singer at my church and have been since I was a little girl?

Asked by Jeanni Cox over 4 years ago

No. Vocal training is the only way to build your voice as an opera singer, or in any style of singing.

Do operas often have speaking parts, or is every line supposed to be sung?

Asked by Elle over 5 years ago

In traditional opera, almost everything is sung. There are a few exceptions, particularly during the reign of the Opéra-Comique in Paris. Carmen is the best example of an opera that includes dialogue in between the previous scene and the sung recitative lines (although the dialogue is frequently cut out of performances). There is also a style called operetta, which was the forefather to musical theater. Operetta has a true mixture of spoken dialogue and song. The genre requires legitimate opera voices and classical technique, so it's still different from music theater. Die Fledermaus is a famous example of operetta.

Hi, im interested in a career in opera but i dont know how to start. Im currently a junior in highschool and have no clue what to do. Do i need a degree? Are there any special universities or conservatories i should look into?

Asked by vaneza over 5 years ago

The most important thing to do is find the right teacher for yourself. There are excellent universities and conservatories. Here's a list: http://musicschoolcentral.com/best-colleges-for-opera-and-vocal-performance/But I'd recommend exploring the colleges for the right teacher- and also a place that has opportunities for you to perform and learn outside of school as well. And consider that it may take your voice years to develop for the professional stage, so a graduate program also may be useful. Degrees are not necessary to be an opera performer, but they will give you the basic tools, networks and time to develop your voice. There's so much to learn as a singer- especially languages: study German & Italian at least. At least getting an undergraduate degree will help you get your basic tools together: language, repertoire, technique, acting, movement, overall stage craft. I highly, HIGHLY recommend taking a small business or personal finance course as you will be your own business as a singer. Not enough people speak about this, even guidance counselors! You need it. Social media marketing & website development would also be good skills to learn as well.

I'd also recommend getting a subscription to Classical Singer magazine. It has a strong focus on college bound students, so you may find great articles that help you get started.

And take part in any competitions that you can. This is something you should speak to your teacher about. Competitions really help you get performance experience, understand the market, network with your future colleagues, and hopefully get you some money, too!

Good luck!!!

How long did it take you deveop 1) Vibrato on all notes 2) Strong head voice?

Asked by Alice over 4 years ago

I've always had a natural vibrato, even as a little kid. However, it took me several years of great technical training to have a healthy, strong and even vibrato throughout my range. And there are still times when I have to work on particular passages to even things out as I move from one area of my voice to the other. Same goes with head voice. I think rather than focusing on the amount of time it takes to achieve anything artistic and technical, you should focus on the quality of work that you're doing. If you get a great, healthy technique that has you really locked in for just 2 notes, then apply it to the 3rd and work on that. I've honestly had voice lessons where I work on 2 measures of music. Quality work will always improve you to proceed with the next step.

My vocal damage healed 3 yr be4, but I learned abt HV in Jan '16, but notes above or below are fine. Diction G5+ can be hard, not muddy. I've known how to use HV ~7 mnth & couldn't sing B4 be4. Unusable/crack = found in warmup only or cracky Eb5-G5

Asked by Rachel's asking is it normal for beginner classical singer (t know how to send a message other than through the question thing almost 4 years ago

I'd recommend working with a voice teacher. Your diction can improve by some exercises and, that far up the scale, it's more important to focus on a beautiful tone than perfect diction. There are some diction tricks that a teacher can show you up there. And some consonants can really be helpful in producing a great, resonate tone up there. But the crack in your passagio of Eb5-G5 is either that you still have some vocal cord issues or that you just need some help working through that passagio transition. I highly recommend inquiring in your town about teachers who are known for their technical abilities. Maybe call colleges that have strong music departments near to you. And if the teacher thinks it's best to go back to an ENT or if the issue persists, definitely get checked out again.

Is there a fragrance that I can squirt in my mouth that can make me sound like an opera singer?

Asked by Jeanni Cox over 4 years ago

No. Vocal training is the only way to build your voice as an opera singer, or in any style of singing.

I know someone who's had lessons all her life (her mother was an opera singer). She's 18 and sounds like she's 28 Wagnerian. Is voice maturity an indicator of talent? What about girls like me who have youthful, light coloratura-like voices?

Asked by Anna over 4 years ago

Hi Anna! So sorry for the delayed response! Some people do have a naturally larger, mature voice at a young age. It's even more important in those cases to have a teacher who is mindful of proper repertoire and technique to keep a large instrument healthy as the body and voice is still maturing. It is a gift, but talent is only made into musicianship & art by technique and dedication to the craft of performing. As a person who has a lighter, coloratura voice, you're voice will be "ready" sooner than most people with larger voices. Keeping true to your voice is always the best technique, so don't worry about how other people's voices are developing compared to yours. So long as your singing repertoire in your 'fach' while working with your teacher to stretch yourself technically, your voice will develop the way it should. That's one of the more exciting parts of having voice as your instrument... there's so much to make our voice unique...by our inherent unique vocal tone honed with technique, by our interpretation crafted by the study of acting and music research, and by how our bodies and voices mature. Keeping your voice healthy is truly the best thing to focus on.

I'm in highschool; I've studied voice for t think about anything other than singing, playing instruments, and composing. Is this OK? Will it be feasible to get jobs post-grad school in the U.S? Germany?

Asked by Faith R over 4 years ago

Yes, if you're committed to music, you can get jobs all over the world in music. Your talent, skills, knowledge and networking will determine your level of success, of course! Commit yourself to practice, seek out the best teachers, develop your technique and (without knowing anything about your level of talent/technique/etc) if you can compose, work hard on that. It will benefit everything and has the most chance of residual income. If you just want to work, there are a plethora of jobs in the industry: Star, session singer, composer, composer's assistant, engineer, publicity rep, marketing associate, music supervisor...there are so many jobs in music that no one ever thinks about. Read up on the industry, especially the artists and executives that you admire. Find out what their paths were and gain that knowledge and find ways to experience it. Go to college, but if you're going to be a musician, DO NOT GRADUATE unless you've taken a personal or small business finance class. It's a crime that schools don't require that as it's the most important part of making a CAREER out of what your passion is. I wish you all the best!

I'm in 11th grade. I've studied voice less than 2 years. I can't think about anything other than singing, playing instruments, and composing. Am I a failure? Am I OK? Will it be feasible to get jobs post-college school in the U.S? Germany?

Asked by Faith R! Sorry! My question got murdered! over 4 years ago

Hi again! I'll repost just in case you didn't see the previous response to your chopped up question! Yes, if you're committed to music, you can get jobs all over the world in music. Your talent, skills, knowledge and networking will determine your level of success, of course! Commit yourself to practice, seek out the best teachers, develop your technique and (without knowing anything about your level of talent/technique/etc) if you can compose, work hard on that. It will benefit everything and has the most chance of residual income. If you just want to work, there are a plethora of jobs in the industry: Star, session singer, composer, composer's assistant, engineer, publicity rep, marketing associate, music supervisor...there are so many jobs in music that no one ever thinks about. Read up on the industry, especially the artists and executives that you admire. Find out what their paths were and gain that knowledge and find ways to experience it. Go to college, but if you're going to be a musician, DO NOT GRADUATE unless you've taken a personal or small business finance class. It's a crime that schools don't require that as it's the most important part of making a CAREER out of what your passion is. I wish you all the best!  PS If you're stressed out about music because you're obsessed with it, you'll have to talk to someone to make sure it's the right path for you, as it's definitely a hard one & you need a strong sense of self and a great attitude about rejection/success. But I don't think that anyone taking actions is ever a failure. You can fail to achieve specific goals, but you can't fail as a person.

What country do most of today's modern operas originate from? Are the styles of what each country produces noticeably different (other than the language they're performed in)?

Asked by JL about 5 years ago

Opera is ALIVE!!!! I love this question as I sing many modern operas. America boasts many of today's top opera composers: John Adams, Philip Glass, Tobias Picker, Jake Heggie, Mark Adamo, Peter Lieberson... the list goes on and on.There's also Louis Andreissen from Holland, Osvaldo Olijov from Argentina, Thomas Ades & Gavin Bryars from England, Olga Neuwirth from Austria and many, many more. And I'm really looking forward to Chinese opera making a greater breakthrough into the mainstream of opera. 

It's an exciting time to be an opera singer as we're getting more and more diversity on stage and in the scores. Most composers choose libretti in their own language, but not always. And some bring their native language to their new homes- Gabriela Ortiz's Camelia la Tejana sung in Spanish, but written in the US, is just one example.

Hello I am trying to find good copies of Operas on DVD with English Subtitles for the Operas Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué (Gustavus III, or The Masked Ball) and the Opera Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball). Do you know where I could find them?

Asked by Tom almost 4 years ago

http://www.metoperashop.org/shop/un-ballo-in-maschera-dvd-met-opera-8595?gclid=Cj0KEQjw0f-9BRCF9-D60_n4rKcBEiQAnXW4-wTOVKB8-S_DhkSaBvN2oXj9izfTQ8kDKfhwVyL33dYaAn5r8P8HAQ

The Met Opera Shop has one. Amazon also carries others.

I am a junior in high school and I want to go to college for vocal performance. I've been studying classical and basics of opera for 4 years now. i'm afraid I won't be good enough to get in. Do you have any advice for young females?

Asked by Kate2097 about 4 years ago

Your job isn't to judge yourself...that's the judges job! Your job is to sing. So, what's the real work of being a singer? In high school, it's studying and figuring out your resources. Find the best teacher you can find, preferably one associated with a school that you're interested in attending. Talk to other students at that college and get their perspective on the best things they did to prepare and what they wish they had known before auditioning/ selecting a college. Do you live near one of the schools you're interested in? If so, see if you can get a lesson with one of their teachers and ask what you'd need to do between now and the entrance auditions to get into their school. If you currently have a teacher, they should be able to give you this insight as well, but it never hurts to get more opinions and make connections where you want to be. I'd also recommend studying Italian as a language (German and French are also great, but if you can speak in Italian and have that on your resume, that will be excellent). To work out your nerves, sing the repertoire you want to sing at the audition in as many school and private recitals as you can. Where do you live? Perhaps there are good resources nearby to you. For instance, in LA, there's a singing actor workshop that you'll do an acting for singers class and you bring in your audition repertoire to polish. Acting is a huge part of opera, so take classes. I love improv classes too as that will help get you out of judgement of yourself more and into the truth of the scene or the song. If you tell me the nearest city to you, I can probably find some resources for you. Best of luck!

I never sang in head voice until 1 year ago & my voice was damaged then. While improved in warmups, it still cracks w/ muddy diction and unusable ranges. Is this normal? I know opera singers study for years, but I don't know the bumps from A>Z. TY!

Asked by Rachel almost 4 years ago

Have you gone to an ENT? You should have a stroboscopy done to check your cords. What city do you live in? I may be able to recommend someone to go to as it sounds like either there's still damage or you're singing similarly to when you did have vocal issues, which could produce similar issues if you're not working with an ENT or at least a great technical teacher.

Hello, I am a highschool singer and a lead in my schools musical. My friend and I are going to try pot for the first time. Do you think smoking it once could do anything to my voice?

Asked by Startobe555 over 3 years ago

I can't advise you on anything medical or illegal, so here's a link to some information: http://www.truthonpot.com/2013/01/27/does-marijuana-cause-lung-damage/And I'd never try anything new on a day that I'm singing.

Can you identify the introduction operatic piece in the BBC series Timewatch operation Sealion? Stunning

Asked by Dale Tortorelli over 1 year ago

Hi Dale, I can't find the clip you're listening to. I looked it up on youtube and heard an orchestral march at the beginning and don't recognize it. Is there a timing on a clip you want me to listen to? Send me the link and time and I can check it out for you.

I remember listening to a classical music station some time in the 1980s. And there was an opera singer who grew up in communist China during the cultural revolution. He had helped the communists break his fathers vinyl records. Who was that?

Asked by Rob Busby over 1 year ago

I haven't heard that story before. I'll keep asking around though and will report back if I find out.

Is there other types of music you like if so what kind? Also is it hard to sing opera

Asked by Dan 3 months ago

I learn so much from other styles of music that I listen to everything...although smooth jazz and country have never spoken to me. Yet, country singing and the story telling in that genre's songs are truly amazing. As a musician, we should learn from everything.

Yes, opera is a challenging art form, but it's amazing and so much fun. The hard part is learning, dedication and keeping yourself healthy and focused.

What kinds of churches do you sing in?

Asked by Question Maker 3 months ago

I sing mostly in Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregational churches and Jewish temples, but there are a wide range of opportunities for sacred singing for professional and volunteer singers alike.

Who sang and what is the name of the famous tenor song with lalalalalalalalalalalala? I have seen it used in cartoons. I thing bugs bunny, but not sure.

Asked by Susie 3 months ago

Probably Pavarotti singing Figaro's Largo al Factotum... it's actually a baritone aria, but he did record it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSWh1i6StyQ Let me know if that's what you're thinking of!

When do you think shows and things will be back to normal

Asked by ASDF 3 months ago

I wish we knew! All we can do is keep on preparing while sheltering in place and hope for the best.

Have you ever had a embarrassing moment on stage or something similar?

Asked by Jamie 14 days ago

Oh many! But that's the fun of live performance. I think the one that could have been the worst is when I was singing in a concert and they didn't tell us we'd be on stage sitting for the first 45 minutes of the Beethoven 9. Usually in that concert, the soloists walk out for the last movement. I had been hydrating and they shoved us out onto the stage without any notice. Needless to say, I almost peed onstage. I was sitting directly center stage, with the audience only maybe 15 feet from me. I had a glass of water by my seat and decided that if I started peeing, I'd "spill" my water so they couldn't tell. Luckily, it didn't get so far, but I have never bowed so fast at the end of the show ever or since!

Have you ever sang for kids at a school?

Asked by Jade 12 days ago

Yes! I adore singing for kids and actually taught opera through Opera Improv where the kids told us what their opera was to be about. It was a blast. I've also done other in school performances that are more traditional. Kids are the greatest audiences.

Do you think you will always do this? And do you work any other jobs besides this?

Asked by Bff 28 days ago

Yes, although right now, it's so hard to wait to sing on stage again. Luckily, I do have some side hustles. I do voice over and online training tutorial production. I've also worked on the music industry side which has been helpful to me in learning how to handle myself in business. But singing is something that will always be central to me.

Where is your favorite place to sing?

Asked by Sadie 23 days ago

I sang in a German castle that's still lived in by the family that's been in it since the 12th century. I think that was one of my all time favorite places to sing. I loved the sense of history and intimacy it brought, with a great space with surprisingly great acoustics.

Do you ever use instruments?

Asked by Sarah 21 days ago

Yes and the more instruments you know, the better. I play piano, but wouldn't get paid for it. Knowing piano and guitar are very helpful. But I have been paid...and was on a Grammy Award winning recording... as a singer and also as a kazoo player. Ummm... what? It was a super random gig, but just shows that being flexible and musical is always a benefit.

Who is your fav famous singer?

Asked by ddfasdfasdfasdf 3 months ago

I love Joyce DiDonato. Her voice, stage presence, acting and overall joy for music is an inspiration to me.

What do you think of heavy metal music? What about rap?

Asked by John 7 days ago

I love them! Heavy Metal is the most dramatic, operatic music of 'popular' music. And the singers are frequently some of the best in the business. You need to have real control of your vocals to do what they do. Rap actually is very much like 'recitative' in opera. In opera, before the aria or duet, there's usually "speak singing" called recitative that explains the circumstances of the scene and progresses the story forward. Then the 'song' comes in to express the emotion. Rap has a similar structure where the spoken words in with beat and emotion comes in the verses and then the chorus usually has more 'sung' hooks. I also love great storytelling and both metal and rap are 2 of the best story telling genres. Maybe add Country to that list too. I'm not a huge country fan, but their writers, especially the old school styled songs, are amazing.

Are you Christian?

Asked by Justin 5 days ago

 

Are you Christian?

Asked by Justin 5 days ago