What does an Operatic career look like?

NOTE: Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to check out the blog and helped spread the word. There have been over 4,000 Facebook shares of this particular post and it has been seen by over 40,000 people! However, I think there has been some misunderstanding. I am NOT anti-opera. I love opera. I did not write this post to scare people and I am NOT trying to be negative. I am trying to be realistic. The business has changed drastically in the last ten years and the information about many of the changes is not available in a format accessible by aspiring performers. If you love opera and want an operatic career, you will look at this post and be motivated to work harder. If this post scares you, hopefully you will walk away inspired to think about things a little more. I don’t want to depress people or ruin dreams, I just want to remove the blinders and help aspiring singers to see things clearly.  I hope those of you who love this art form will go out into the world and conquer it! My Facebook feed is full of friends who are singing at the MET, winning and earning spots in the finals of major competitions, and otherwise enjoying life as opera singers. Believe me, if that’s what you want I wish you nothing but the best. There is nothing more beautiful in this world than the human voice sharing the human experience through song. Good Luck!!! ~Matt

Anna Netrebko is a beautiful woman. She is a successful operatic superstar. She sings in the world’s greatest opera houses, wears fine jewels, beautiful gowns, and dines at some of the finest restaurants. But to get to that point there is a long, grueling process that most aspiring singers never hear about. This post is intended to help shed light on what it takes to build a career and some of the struggles you may encounter along the way. There is a great book for musical theatre students called Making it on Broadway that is full of stories about the difficult climb to the top, but I have never seen a similar book for opera singers. This post was inspired by that book and takes a similar approach to the subject – a cold, hard look at the dirty truth about the climb to the top.  (This post has been slightly edited from the original version to address some of the wording that stirred up controversy amongst a few of my colleagues in the teaching world.  The content is the same but explained more clearly than it was in the original version.)

There are currently over 9,000 students studying vocal performance (according to the National Association of Schools of Music) in the Untied States. According to Opera America, there are around 150 opera companies in the United States and Canada.  The examples I write about below come from my own personal experiences through thirteen years of pursuing an operatic career, the experiences of my wife who is also a singer, and the experiences of many of my friends who are also in or have been in the industry. Not everyone will go through all of the steps as described below nor will everyone face the same challenges. Some of my friends have gone through the worst of the worst and have come out on the other side as successful singers.  Others have decided that the career path was more than they could handle or that it required more than they were willing to sacrifice. Many of my friends who have come to one of those conclusions have still enjoyed performing part-time or have found other fulfilling careers that involve music: casting, artist representation, arts administration, music education, music therapy, and/or starting their own small businesses. Many of them would tell you that their academic training in vocal performance prepared them for those alternative career paths and they wouldn’t change a thing.  Others would tell you that if they would have known in high school what they know now, they would have majored in something completely different.

This article is meant to open your eyes to what may lie ahead and encourage you to ask questions about the good and the bad.  If this article scares you, I encourage you to talk about it with your teacher.  Ask other professionals that you may know and get their opinions as well.  My opinions are strong and they have been formed through my own personal experiences with other singers in my generation.  Things are always changing, so you must keep exploring on your own if this is the career you really want to pursue.  If you decide this IS what you want to do for a living, great!  Make the most out of your education, learn more about the topics I address on your own, and dedicate yourself to making things happen.  You CAN do this, but it will take lots of hard work and dedication.

Step #1: Bachelor Degree

The Bachelor degree is step #1. The bachelor degree builds your foundation as a professional musician. You will learn theory, history, languages, and acting while building a strong vocal technique. Unfortunately, the bachelor degree in performance is really only a starting place for your education as a professional musician. Most students will discover that to truly be competitive as a professional musician, they will need to continue their education for the rest of their lives in and outside of academia.  Some students choose to major in music education, which will allow them to work in music full time upon graduation.  Others double major or even earn a degree in another field while minoring in music. However, anything less than a bachelor degree in music can often make entering graduate school difficult if not impossible.  In needs to be clearly stated that a bachelor degree alone in vocal performance does not qualify you to teach voice, teach at a university, teach in public schools, or to walk directly into a career as a professional singer.  The degree is a stepping stone that will provide you with the fundamentals essential to success in this field while preparing you for further training in or outside of academia.

Step #2: Graduate School

Grad school is where the real vocal development happens for many classical singers. With general education requirements out of the way, singers can spend more time focusing on their singing. Since the voice is usually more mature by the time a singer reaches graduate school, students can usually make significant technical progress during their degree. Some students are awarded a graduate assistantship, which will often give them a full tuition waiver and a small salary of $3,000-12,000 a year. In return, the student will assist with teaching a course, teach non-major lessons, or with office work.  If you have taken on a significant amount of student loan debt during your undergraduate studies, you may have limited options when it comes time to apply for graduate school.  This is yet another reason why you need to take financial planning seriously while doing your research.

Step #3: Choose A, B, or C

A) Performance Certificate/Artist Diploma – Many students choose to continue their academic study in a performance certificate or artist diploma program. These programs do not lead to an official degree, but instead give the student an opportunity to stay in school and study performance related courses only. These programs usually run 1-3 years.  Some offer assistantships or scholarships, others do not. (Next progress to B or C)

B) Doctorate – Many students stay in academia to pursue their Doctorate. Most students at this level have a graduate assistantship, which provides them with a full tuition waiver and a salary of $6,000-12,000 a year to teach a course, teach private lessons, or to assist with office work. (Next progress to C or begin teaching at a university).

C) Start auditioning for the YAP circuit.

Step #4 – The YAP circuit

The YAP circuit is slang for a roughly tiered level of Young Artist Programs that student singers (age 21-35) move through as they pursue a professional career. Notice that I said age 21-35 above? Everyone’s path is different, but it is not uncommon for heavier voices to take longer to develop.  For those singers, the artist development process often takes longer; some end up staying in this circle of student and young artist programs until age 35. Granted, it is a much different “student experience” than being in high school or even undergrad.  But nonetheless, you are still considered an artist-in-training during these steps and the pay scale will match that classification.  YAPs take place during the summer as well as the academic school year.  Those that take place during the school year often combine performing in K-12 schools in educational outreach programs as well as singing in the opera chorus and occasionally small roles at the opera company. Programs that combine educational outreach and main stage performing tend to pay slightly better than those programs that focus on main stage performing alone (i.e. summer YAPs).  Progressing through the YAP circuit will usually include the following steps.

A) Pay-To-Sing – PTS programs require the singer to pay a fee (tuition) to sing in a season of concerts and/or operas. Famous programs of this type include Brevard Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, and Opera in the Ozarks. The fees for participating in these programs usually range from $2000-8000 (some offer scholarships including full rides). A few of these programs give you the opportunity to sing in Europe, thus adding a European credit to your resume. Most singers do at least one of these programs, but usually no more than three. Some singers are fortunate to get into a PTS during undergrad, which can help them progress through the career path more rapidly. However, it’s not at all unusual to participate in a PTS during graduate school.

B) Non-union YAP – YAPs come in union and non-union form. In a non-union YAP, there are no minimum requirements for artist treatment, housing, or pay for the artist. Last time I checked (2010), the lowest paying YAPs were somewhere around $600 for 8 weeks, with housing and lunch provided. Performers in this YAP had one day off during the 8 week period and worked around 10-12 hours a day (this information may now be outdated). The better paying YAPs offer between $1500+ for 8 weeks, with one day off a week, but its still not uncommon to encounter 10-12 hour work days. The living situations are not always glamorous.  Some of the YAPs rely on home stays for housing, which means you will live in a spare room of a family who supports the opera. At one of the YAPs I participated in, some of the families asked their artists to help in the duties of the house or in some cases they asked the artists to house sit while the home owner was gone for the summer, leaving you to take care of the dogs, cats, garden, etc.  In one of my stays, I was given a master bedroom suite in a home with a beautiful pool in the back yard.  There are definitely good situations, bad situations, and everything in-between.  In a home stay situation, you may find yourself staying at a significant distance from the rehearsal and performance spaces, which will require you to pay for your own gas as well as food. My farthest home stay was 30 minutes from the performance venue and 20 minutes from the rehearsal space. Even though these are not pay-to-sing programs, you will often need more money than you are getting paid to survive.

C) Union YAPs – These are the highest level of the YAP circuit. The union, AGMA, limits rehearsals to six hours a day (as of 2010) and requires companies to pay established minimums that correspond to the size of the role. These programs tend to pay somewhere in the $250-525 per week range for the education and chorus duties with additional pay for any roles performed on the main stage. Many of these programs offer housing, although some of the better paying programs do not and you will have to make your own housing arrangements. Those programs that run during the academic school year may also offer health insurance and other benefits. With the economic downturn, those benefits have in some cases been pulled back or completely eliminated, but as the economy improves that may change.

Auditioning For YAPS

The audition process for young artist programs is not the same as in other fields of the performing arts.  There are numerous opinions about the fairness and validity of the YAP audition process. I will present some observations from my own personal experiences that I found surprising.  I present this information because I believe that everyone should be aware of the system ahead of time in order to navigate it successfully when they are ready.

I had a lot of theatre friends during my undergraduate training and we often talked about the process of auditioning.  In the theatre world, an audition is considered to be a scam if the company charges you to audition.  In fact, Equity (the professional theatre union), forbids companies from charging any type of fee to audition for a production.  In theatre and dance, performers show up at the audition site the day of the audition and are seen in the order they arrive.  Equity also requires companies to see auditions by any Equity member who shows up at an audition, even if they have auditioned for the same company or production several times before. Federal law says that it is illegal to ask an applicant for their age or marital status when applying for a job and theatrical agents and casting directors are therefore forbidden from asking for any demographic information when casting.  I expected that auditioning for opera would be similar, but I quickly found out that its not.

In my audition experience, I found that opera companies:

-Charge you an audition fee to audition (usually between $25 and $100 per company) and they often require you to pay for your own accompanist, either bringing your own ($25-50) or paying for theirs (~$20). Therefore, I found that I needed to budget $50-$150 for each audition.

-Many of the audition applications regularly asked for your age and sometimes marital status. If the company felt that you were too old by their standards (which could vary by voice type), they could choose to not grant you an audition, yet still keep your audition fee.  This was one of the most difficult aspects of this process for me to accept.  There were many times I would pay $25+ in audition fees for an audition I was not accepted for.  I was also advised by some of my mentors to lie about my marital status since listing myself as married could be problematic.

-If you sing for a company and they don’t like you, it is possible that they will put you in a file to either never be seen again, or to not be seen again for a certain period of time.  I have listened to YAP directors talk about this in masterclasses.  Some of them feel that certain technical faults will not improve and they would rather take their chances hearing a singer they’ve never heard before than on someone they have already heard before and who did not impress them.  You have no way of knowing if that is their perception of you.  Sometimes when you apply, you will receive a response saying that they would like to see you in a few years after you have developed your resume.  Sometimes you will only receive a notice stating that you did not receive an audition time slot.  If you are really interested in a company that did not grant your audition request, you will need to keep re-applying in the future (and pay the applicable audition fee) to see if the company has changed their mind.  This is why it is very important to listen to your voice teacher and only apply for the programs that they believe you are ready for.  If your teacher tells you not to audition for a program, they are looking out for your best interests.  They are trying to help you, not hold you back.

-Opera companies plan their auditions for young artist programs several months in advance with specific deadlines for applications that usually fall several months before the actual audition date. Sometimes the companies’ deadlines and your trip planning deadlines will not line up and you will be left in a situation where you will need to decide whether or not to book a trip to NYC for auditions that you may or may not be granted. Because of this, most singers plan on picking a 1-4 week period to stay in NYC during audition season, which runs for a 4-6 week period in November and December.  You need to plan for this and save/budget accordingly.  Your time in NYC is a great opportunity to see performances, network, and get familiar with the way the business operates.  Take advantage of it.

Budgeting to find a gig

Because of all of the costs involved, you will need to budget for each year’s auditions. Here is a sample budget:

-Fees $1,125 (15 auditions with combined fees of $75 each)

-Airfare $500

-Ground Transportation $200 ($85 city transport pass and $115 for taxis)

-Practice Rooms $150 (15 half hour slots to warm-up before your auditions at a cost of $10 per half hour)

-Food $300 (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner over a two week period)

-Lodging not included. Most people sleep on a friend’s floor or couch during their visit.

TOTAL: $2,275.

You will probably participate in these type of auditions every season during your YAP years (age 21 to 30-35). Most people do not YAP for the full 14 years, but it is reasonable to plan on spending 5-7 years in this phase (especially bigger voices and lower voices which take longer to develop).  Just remember that you will only be making $600-2000 for the gig once you land it. So you may be performing at a loss when you factor in what you spent on auditioning. Budgeting and pre-planning is absolutely essential in this phase.  A church gig or other side job during the academic year may help you save to cover audition expenses and fill in the gap between your income and expenses during the summer.  If you have another marketable skill (web design, photography, etc.), consider developing it as a way to help cover your expenses.

Side Step (#4.5) Competitions

Some singers do very well singing in competitions. The competition circuit can be very lucrative with top prizes reaching $10,000+. Its not unusual for one singer to win first, second, or third in every competition taking place during a season. Others will spend significant money on competition fees and never win or place. Some singers do very well in competitions and never work in opera, the opposite is also true. A good balance of both is often a good option for most singers.  Just like opera companies, many competitions require application and/or accompanist fees.  These are in addition to the costs associated with covering your own travel for the competition.  So if this is something of interest to you, plan on budgeting for it accordingly.

Step #5: YAP TO SMALL ROLES

The next step in your career development will often be from YAP programs to singing small roles. The easiest way to do this is to have participated in enough YAPs that people in the business know you and start recommending you for jobs. Many YAPs will invite you back to the company as a main stage artist 2-3 years after you’ve left their program (assuming you’ve done other bigger and better things since your time with them). This phase of your career is not a money making phase, but things tend to be a little better than the YAP years.  Since you will be traveling frequently, hopefully you can live with your parents or friends in-between gigs and therefore bypass renting a place to live. This phase of your career will usually begin somewhere between 27-33 if you were an early bloomer on the YAP circuit. If you got started a little later, this phase may come along later in your twenties or early thirties.  Average fees are anyone’s guess in the current economy. But it is doubtful anyone could work for less than $500 a performance (assuming 2-6 performances). Bigger companies may pay $1000 per performance (6-12 performances). You will also hopefully land a few concert gigs (oratorios, masses, pops concerts) with orchestra, which tend to pay well for the time commitment. You will usually rehearse once or twice and then perform earning $500-3000 per performance.

Step #6: SMALL ROLES TO AGENT

The next step in your career evolution usually happens somewhere in your thirties, again it often depends on when you got started YAPing. In this phase, someone recommends you or invites you to sing for an agent. Agents in opera are essential for making the leap from small roles to leading roles. An agent receives requests from orchestras and opera companies in the United States and abroad who are looking to hire singers. The agent then submits singers they think are a good fit, the company reviews the singers resumes, and the companies then pick the singers that they would like to hear in person. For this part of your career, you must live in NYC (there are rare exceptions). You will usually have a part time job in the day or evening and go to auditions as your agent instructs you. You can also seek out auditions on your own. Then as you get a gig, you will leave town and your day job, do the performances, return and do it all over again.

Step #7: Blossoming into a full career

If you are lucky, each gig will lead to another bigger and better gig. Opera companies are classified by their budget: “A” being the highest level (Met, Chicago, San Francisco) and “D” being the lowest level (Small town opera companies). There are many different paths in this phase.  You may start out singing supporting roles at B houses and leading roles at D and C houses. Eventually you hope to progress to lead roles at B houses. Other singers may begin this phase by singing leads at D houses and then work their way up to leads at A houses. Every path is different and its very hard to predict how any individual’s career will progress. It is not unheard of for singers to never make it to A houses, or to make it there singing supporting roles and still have a day job on the side. In this phase, singers are usually on the road 6-10 months a year, often carrying their lives in their car and moving from hotel to hotel.

At some point, many tire of life on the road and move into teaching or some other aspect of the music profession, perhaps even pursuing a different career altogether. Some never tire of the life style and spend their entire career on the road. Europe at one point was a great option, but changes in the European Union have made it easier to hire an Italian to sing in Germany than an American. It used to be that singers from both countries were on an equal playing field in terms of hire-ability and due to the better training system in the U.S., Americans would often get the roles. That is no longer the case and you cannot plan on having a career in Europe like your parents or teacher did. That issue is beyond the scope of this article, but in depth discussions can be found in various publications including Classical Singer magazine.

Summary

Pursuing an operatic career, in my opinion, is currently the most difficult of any of the possibilities for singers. Some of my colleagues may disagree; I will happily post any other viewpoints if you would like to submit a comment.  Even though it can be extremely difficulty, performing as a classical vocalists on the professional stage can be one of the most thrilling experiences of your life.  Very few people will ever get the chance to stand on the stage as a soloist with a full orchestra and chorus singing un-amplified for 3,000 people.  Those who are fortunate enough to worry about the small details of climbing the professional ladder as I describe above are very lucky people.

Understanding your career prospects is an important step in planning for any career.  Your planning begins with choosing which schools you will audition for and how much student aid you are willing to take out in student loans as you pursue this career. Hopefully this post will inspire you to do your own research and start forming your own game plan for the future.  Hard-work and dedication can make any dream a reality.  Good Luck!

~Matt

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60 comments

  1. This is a very useful article! I have never seen all of this in one place before. I will be recommending it to students who are contemplating an operatic career.

  2. When I was 18 and signed up for an undergrad in vocal performance, I wish someone had sat down and instructed me in the realities of what that would actually MEAN, should I follow through on the that path. At 18, I thought, like all my fellow singers, that I’d sing at the Met someday. The truth is that once I graduated I had no desire to go to several more years of school, go through the incredibly grinding, massively expensive process of application and rejection and travel and red tape, etc that you have described. It is not a career that is made for everyone, so I picked something else. I graduated with that BFA, got married, and have used my degree for musical pursuits outside of opera, and I sing that beautiful music to my children now. To have an actual career in opera takes more than just some talent and “wanting it”. It takes a ton of work, a lot of money invested, and some luck. Thank you for this good, hard look.

    1. That is so true Geneva! If only we knew! I am a very happy Jazz Singer now, but really did not understand the business of Opera back then. Students are lucky to have articles such as this one to help them understand more about their chosen field.

  3. Excellent article.

    Another scenario about auditions: opera companies frequently hold open auditions when, in fact, they have only one or two openings that year. The reason for this is to track singers’ progress. So someone could audition and assume it was for nothing (because there is no opening for their voice type). It’s important to go back the following year, keeping in touch along the way.

  4. Sorry, but Anna netrebko does NOT fit this bill. She did not work her way up– she had a silver spoon shoved in her mouth. I attended her first performance in the USA. She came to san Francisco as a joint venture with the Kirov opera. She had no name. She was 24. She had to do the merola program, but she was not even an Adler fellow. Fame and fortune followed for various reasons I won’t detail. If you are going to try and tell us what it takes to be an opera singer, you need to be honest about the couch audition, and the factoid that many famous singers do not possess a bachelors degree. For example, Ruthann’s Swenson. She was great at 17 ( I know this. I was there— we both studied with Gloria Hilborn). And she never finished college.

    I really don’t believe that netrebko is a good singer. 100 years ago she would have been laughed at for her inconsistent and sloppy singing. But that is who biz. Ruthann was incredible. There are a lot of incredible singers out there, and there are a lot of horrible ones making a living.

    Listen more carefully.

    — an anynomous, working opera singer

    1. Your absolutely correct!

      And this is how I see it: First, you have to be blessed with the “Gift of Voice”. Second, you have to be connected to the right people at the very top. Lastly, (and this one you do your entire career) – you have to work extremely hard to educate the world with the greatest performances they’ve ever seen. By my standards, no one in the 21st century has accomplished this yet. Yes… NO ONE! You see, the greatest opera singers in history had no education to speak of, but instead THEY taught the world, moved souls, changed lives and lead masses to love the operatic voice. “The Gift from Heaven.”

      Kinnor Classics Intl.

  5. I made it up to the YAP level for three years. How I wish this information had been available, or someone had told me about this. All my teachers, coaches, directors, etc, encouraged me. At age 28 I gave up and became a mortgage banker. There is simply not enough interest in Opera anymore to justify more than one or two music schools in the country!

  6. College degrees in music mean zip. Absolute zip. If you have the goods, i.e. a career worthy voice, a very appealing look, the ability to communicate thru a foreign language, are a good actor, are a good networker, have teachers that are connected, and have a whale of a lot of luck, you just might have a career.

    Way too many people out there that were tuition fodder that have music degrees. Too many of them that teach in universities that never have put any real application into the art that teach at universities and write articles.

    1. Yes there are a lot of teachers out there who have never seen the outside of a backstage door, much less walked through it!! I know. I taught on a faculty where I was the newest faculty member and 1/4 of my bio/resume was larger than the other 5 teachers (4 were adjuncts) combined!! And, the job posting required an “active performer”… Such hypocrisy!

  7. Thanks so much for the article (although it would benefit from a good edit checking grammar -especially homonyms and apostrophes…) It has brought up a lot of discussion on my facebook among working singer friends about the possibilities of different career routes and options. The problem is, most people think that there is only one career option (SINGING AT THE MET!) if you are a classical singer, whereas there are endless possibilities of using singing to make a career. The route you describe is what most singers aim for, and where the majority do not succeed in reaching their goal. There is now a whole business around the preparation of aspiring young singers, which has its benefits and its severe parasitic aspects. Unfortunately, we are fed the line that the only kind of career is a “big career.” I appreciate your acknowledgement of the different tiers for singers and the fact that one does not necessarily lead to the next. And that is OK! Every school with a music department should start off the freshman school year with the sort of facts you have in this article. (Although I’d like to get even more hard data, as well!)

    People need to see that studying voice in college does not guarantee them a career as an opera singer: years and years of hard work and sacrifice do not even guarantee that. AND we need to make sure that singers realize there are different things you can do with a vocal degree, not just singing opera. Thank you so much for putting the costs out there for consumption – I think it will open up a lot of possible aspiring singers’ eyes!

    I have also a website with a young artists’ corner, sharing my experiences and my advice for young aspiring singers, and explain at least my trajectory into a career and what I have learned over the years and wish I knew… I will definitely link to your article. http://www.LauraClaycomb.com/yac/

  8. There’s always the option of just getting a day job and then a chorus gig on the side! And chorus work is awesome fun: you get to sing a wide range of music, not just what’s in your fach, you’re onstage with the stars in your costume and make up, and you get to go home and sleep in your own bed every night!

  9. yeah…this def just put my life into perspective. I’m currently in undergrad, and I’ve only planned up to YAP. I’ve only planned to audition for 5-7 companies a year, not 15!

    1. Adrian,

      Everyone’s path is different. You may be able to get away with only 5-7 companies a year, maybe not. Glad to know I got you thinking. The hardest thing in this business is that the path is different for everyone. But if you love this more than anything else, you will make it work.

      Best of luck!!!

      Matt

  10. I would also like to suggest a Music Education Degree. While it is looked down upon in many “conservatoires”, it is, in my humble opinion, a way to earn money without waiting tables, and still be in music while pursuing a performance career. Why do some look down on that aspect of the value of music education-when it is a way to actually comtinue MUSIC, rather than something outside of the field while auditioning, etc.

  11. Let’s not forget to mention that singers that become successful can afford to buy their way in. How many auditions and competitions I have been in and done only to watch the singers who live on trust funds get mainstage roles because their family can donate large sums of money to the opera season. Fortunately, I was able to do a few intensive programs on scholarship and I had to work hard to get there. But there were always students who lacked the talent and were there because they could afford to pay for extra coachings and many extras that these programs don’t offer.

    Sometimes the music we work so hard to “preserve” is going extinct because those in the industry have made it very clear that “certain” types of people “don’t belong”. I have witnessed first hand how selective this business is. If you come from money, you may just have a social and/or family circle of potential donors.

    Bottom line: Opera companies are not always looking for singers, they are looking for potential donors.

    1. Absolutely true!

      The Harold Blairs of this world would have near no chance of making it today. Forget coming from the bush or getting some “lucky break” by finding a Sir Richard Bonynge (as to Dame Joan). These days it is absolutely about who funds the company. Do you really think a major corporate sponsor who says ‘I’ll donate $XX,000, on condition you cast him/her in the lead’, doesn’t happen? I can tell you for fact it does and its an “open secret”!

  12. For the US singers to get into the European market has indeed become a harder task, mostly because of the EU regulations and the more open borders towards Eastern Europe where many premium quality voices come from. It should also be said that we Europeans do not have an easy access to the American market either because of the strong union policies there…

    I would like to add another useful way often disregarded by the young singers: opera chorus.

    It is understandable that many singers fear the mark of a chorus singer on the forehead as well as what singing in a larger group might do to your voice. However, in the current economic situation it is actually a good way to get to Europe since you are based on the old continent, have a monthly salary as a singer and above all your foot is already inside of the local stage business system.

    There are people who work in house choruses of relatively small localities and who continue to work and perfection their art with good teachers and coaches.

    I am currently in the chorus of a medium-large house after years of study, YAPing, freelancing etc. Very often we get to sing medium and small parts, sometimes there are even chances to cover a leading role (and sing one!). The system does not more label choristers as a fixed category: I have several colleagues who after years as soloists get a full-time chorus position and occasionally continue to guest in roles – of course a thing to be negotiated.

    Especially in the case of more specific voice types – lower, dramatic or anything that requires AGE – chorus is an excellent way to get into the business, develop your skills and audition further. It requires a lot of discipline, strength and brain. But everything is possible!

  13. I just saw your note at the beginning of this post. Whoever is misunderstanding this blog as anti-opera has obviously not tried to make an operatic career. I started over twenty years ago, and have been incredibly precocious and incredibly lucky. Yet I STILL have had to spend way more than you outline here on voice lessons, plane tickets and hotel stays for auditions at the beginning of my career not to mention ongoing voice lessons, coachings and preparations in order to make all the grueling hard work pay off into the wonderful career I have now. You are being realistic to give young singers an idea of what preparation for this career can entail. Nobody has a clue – they think they’ll move to New York, do a few auditions, get an agent and then the road will be paved with Traviatas at the Met. It just doesn’t work like that.

    I’d also like to mention that even when you get into a career, you are paying all your expenses upfront. YOU pay for role preparation, YOU pay for your travel, housing and local transportation, and usually opera companies only will reimburse you for your travel (up to a certain amount, at that!) You front the most of the money, and will get paid AFTER the gig, so even once you start a career, you are going to have to build either a really good credit line or a nice cushion of cash to tide you over until you’re getting paid.

    I also gave you the wrong address for my young artists’ website – I’ve had a website revamp, and forgot it’s changed!

    http://lauraclaycomb.com/young-artist-corner/

  14. As a parent of a HS tenor who is just starting his college apps, I greatly appreciate this straightforward, honest information. I’m also the Executive Director of a music program for HS instrumentalists and vocalists and have shared this with our families. I want kids to pursue their passions, but they need to understand what they are getting in to and be realistic about what it takes to succeed. A career in the arts requires extraordinary grit & perseverance. I also believe young artists need to train in networking and entrepreneurship as well as their art. Thanks again for this insight!

  15. Not sure where this suggestion might fit in the plan scheme. But that’s for each to decide for himself/ herself:

    A —- Youtube folks! Get creative, start your own youtube channel and post regular wonderful recordings/videos of yourself singing. Then promote it as best you can through social networks and hope that you start to catch attention.

    B —– An alternative may be an independent recording artist career. With a little time and effort spent in learning how to record and produce your own music (there are dozens of great do-it yourself courses in recording/mixing/mastering online, some for money, some for free, and great audio software, some for money, some for free) or running Kickstarter, Indigogo, or any other form of crowdfunding campaigns to afford for others to help you with recording/video production). Then promote and market it through sites like bandcamp and noistrate (both free), iTunes, amazon, spotify, etc. (the marketing of which can be funneled through sites like reverbnation, tunescore, cdbaby, youtunez, etc.)

    C —– A combination of A and B

    I’m just starting out in the indie/gospel/alternative/pop/singer-songwriter/composer career and am taking each of these steps bit by bit with a side job and a family. So, I’m more focused on the stay-at-home benefits that may come of it, if it ever takes off enough to make enough to at least live a steady, non-glamerous, quiet life. I live in Germany which is much smaller than the U.S. and borders Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech, France. So just traveling within Germany is close enough to not have to worry about being on the road one day for too long away from family if that ever comes into question. So, the success to go behind my suggestions is yet to come, if ever.

    I did invest time and a little money in learning how to record and produce my own music and put out an album recently and promote it through my artist name on my website, facebook, twitter, bandcamp, noisetrade, myspace and reverbnation pages. So there’s a lot of work on the side to go along with it and it’s definitely been a tricky start. Just getting on Noisetrade though, got me several fans without having to do any promotion simply because folks visit that site a bit more often. But I’m hoping that my focus put upon always posting something fresh and new but with quality and a bit for free should gather enough attention with time and patience. Then folks will hopefully notice, share and want more because they ultimately like what they hear. Not sure how much it might help an operatic singer career. But, I just discovered Charlotte Church recently on noisetrade who apparently has a vast history as a young talent in the classical vocal industry. Apparently she wants to go independent now.

    But, social networking and sites for crowdfunding and indipendently promoting your own music are definitely beginning to turn the music industry upside down. Just take Justin Bieber, the Piano Guys or Kevin Ousola (the cello player/beatboxer who then became the beatboxing vocalist for Pentatonix) for example, each of which got noticed on youtube.

    And a final thought. I personally find the music industry becoming more image oriented, whether classical or popular. Too much focus is being put on what the artist looks like or how much skin they show. Focus more on the art and music itself and maybe try to hide your own face and appearance more from the productions! It depends on the message of the music of course. But, I am not so impressed with names and faces. Creative musicality and artistic direction catch my eye. Let’s put ART back in the music.

    1. Wonderful comment! So helpful! Thank you! I enjoy reading the comments as much as I do the articles on the internet. I wish you much success with your dream. I have to tell you your dreams are similar to mine 🙂

  16. I have a question for anyone to answer – many different teachers and coaches I have worked with have told me that I should not pursue competitions, but instead might as well go straight into auditioning at small companies. They say, at this point, there is not much to gain from doing competitions. I am not attending graduate school because of financial reasons, although I am still pursuing many kinds of education. Do you think it’s possible to follow this general advice while spending less time on a couple of the points and more time on others?

    1. I’m assuming that you are talking about classical voice competitions. I am not a big fan of competitions, but some of them can be helpful but many are not. I think of them as being similar to an apple, orange, banana contest. The judges say they are going to pick the best fruit, but not for what. You could show up at the contest with an orange and then find out the judges were looking to make a bread, in which case the banana was the only one fruit that had a decent shot. So then you decide to change it up and go with a banana the next time, and then you find out the judges wanted to make juice and the orange wins. At least with an opera company, you know what shows they’re doing and you know what kind of rep you should take to the audition. If you are not a Wagnerian soprano, you won’t go to an audition for a Wagner opera. However, it’s often impossible to know what judges are looking for at a competition. If the people judging the competitions are in charge of casting for a company, it can be beneficial to participate. Even if you do not win, you may find that the connections are beneficial to you and you could even walk away with a gig if you fit a specific need. I would avoid doing competitions such as NATS State competitions where those doing the judging are other teachers. Those types of competitions do not usually provide the types of connections that you need if pursuing a career. As far as musical theater goes, I wouldn’t bother with competitions. They mean nothing in the bigger picture. Musical theater is about the entire package, not just the singing voice.
      ~Matt

    2. I totally agree! My daughter has spent a few years doing what everyone says you have to do – enter competitions, secure a scholarship (presuming you win first prize and that the prize money even remotely covers the costs of your studies and tuition), then audition for YAPs. Second and third place rarely gives you more than covering the cost of airfares or competition entry fees. If you’re lucky (or talented) enough to win, you might get $5,000, at best. Prize money of $25,000, presuming you are seriously fortunate to win it, often cannot be spent as you want to spend it and may carry certain caveats (e.g. you must spend it in Australia, must be spent with a specific teacher/school, etc…).

      From Adelaide, just one audition will cost $1,000-2,000, as most are in Melbourne and Sydney. We find auditions happen at various times of the year (i.e., not just start, mid or end of the year) so, short of uprooting to live in another city and finding yourself on the bread-line (welfare won’t allow you to pursue a singing career or make concession for months of unpaid rehearsals).

      I don’t mind saying in one major comp, my daughter was ranked so poorly as to be told she should never sing again. This was only a few months AFTER having secured a spot in the top 60 (from a field of over 2000 internationally) in an elite opera school in Italy. She had just turned 18 the week before. That same month she successfully secured a place at another major opera school – no degree, no first prize in any opera comp. Now, in reverse-order to the way careers are commonly made – we are trying to raise the private funds to get her there, as competitions are (and I do very much generalise) far too often questionable in terms of objectivity and independence. In one comp, the girl who won EVERY category was being tutored and mentored by the Dean of the Conservatorium in that city. In another scholarship comp, 3 of 5 won two consecutive years in 3 different categories. Those artists were being taught by the panel members and the prize money was being used to feed back into their own opera schools via a “YAP/mentoring program”. All 5 (and all 7 in the previous year) had degrees from the major Con’s. Go figure! The best advice to us was NOT to send my daughter to any Con here in Australia very specifically because she is a brilliant mimic and, from our own observations, the singers all largely come out with ‘the same voice’. We felt hers is too unique and unusual that we didn’t want to potentially spoil it (to use the term loosely).

      When she was young, we were told ‘There are “right” and “wrong” ways to make a career in opera. That means being “introduced” (aka, discovered) to the right people’. That “right way” was – necessarily – going via the Cons and being “introduced” by their teachers into the major companies; using their networks and sponsorship channels. However, we decided to go another path, as the promises made held many a disadvantage also, which I won’t detail here. I hasten to add, career paths are “horses for courses”, so I don’t bemoan for others the pathways they choose for themselves, but we know the sacrifices my daughter was being asked to make were not in her best interests as she would have been left beholding to others who would have all but owned her and who, on a whim, could equally snuff her opportunities if they so wished (e.g. if the disapproved of her choice of teachers, producers, agents, managers, etc..).

      Moreover, after all these experiences, we agree comps are a waste of precious financial resources for all the reasons we experienced. By the time you do 4-7 comps in a year (forget the cost of auditions on top), if you make no return, you will have virtually funded your own private tuition at a major school in under 3 years and probably found your own “lucky breaks”.

      What is “viable” depends on where you live and where the work is. From Australia, to compete in the US for anything is scarcely worth the effort and cost, unless you have seriously tight networks to pull you through all the hurdles you have to jump. Italy is considerably easier, we find, but we are told very few Australians make it in Italy. The ones that do, do it by their own means and hardly anyone knows much about them as it appears many don’t get there through the major companies (a.k.a. “official channels”).

      We also discovered that there are always alternate, “back door” means of getting into opera companies (and I am not talking “the casting couch”), but that is all about being seen, heard and known for all the right reasons.

      This is a wonderful article and discussion, Thanks Matt!

    3. (Apologies for the repost, but it enable editing after posting)

      I totally agree, @CourtneyRoseNW)! My daughter has spent a few years doing what everyone says you have to do – enter competitions, secure a scholarship (presuming you win first prize and that the prize money even remotely covers the costs of your studies and tuition), then audition for YAPs. Second and third place rarely gives you more than covering the cost of airfares or competition entry fees. If you’re lucky (or talented) enough to win, you might get $5,000, at best. Prize money of $25,000, presuming you are seriously fortunate to win it, often cannot be spent as you want to spend it and may carry certain caveats (e.g. you must spend it in Australia, must be spent with a specific teacher/school, etc…).

      From Adelaide, just one audition will cost $1,000-2,000, as most are in Melbourne and Sydney. We find auditions happen at various times of the year (i.e., not just start, mid or end of the year) so, short of uprooting to live in another city and finding yourself on the bread-line (welfare won’t allow you to pursue a singing career or make concession for months of unpaid rehearsals), I don’t see the wisdom or merit for “risking it all” unless you really know the risks are calculated.

      I don’t mind saying in one major comp, my daughter was ranked so poorly as to be told she should never sing again. This was only a few months AFTER having secured a spot in the top 60 (from a field of over 2000 internationally) in an elite opera school in Italy. She had just turned 18 the week before. That same month she successfully secured a place at another major opera school – no degree, no first prize in any opera comp. Now, in reverse-order to the way careers are commonly made – we are trying to raise the private funds to get her there, as competitions are (and I do very much generalise) far too often questionable in terms of objectivity and independence. In one comp, the girl who won EVERY category was being tutored and mentored by the Dean of the Conservatorium in that city. In another scholarship comp, 3 of 5 won two consecutive years in 3 different categories. Those artists were being taught by the panel members and the prize money was being used to feed back into their own opera schools via a “YAP/mentoring program”. All 5 (and all 7 in the previous year) had degrees from the major Con’s. Go figure! The best advice to us was NOT to send my daughter to any Con here in Australia very specifically because she is a brilliant mimic and, from our own observations, the singers all largely come out with ‘the same voice’. We felt hers is too unique and unusual that we didn’t want to potentially spoil it (to use the term loosely).

      When she was young, we were told ‘There are “right” and “wrong” ways to make a career in opera. That means being “introduced” (aka, discovered) to the right people’. That “right way” was – necessarily – going via the Cons and being “introduced” by their teachers into the major companies; using their networks and sponsorship channels. However, we decided to go another path, as the promises made held many a disadvantage also, which I won’t detail here. I hasten to add, career paths are “horses for courses”, so I don’t bemoan for others the pathways they choose for themselves, but we know the sacrifices my daughter was being asked to make were not in her best interests as she would have been left beholding to others who would have all but owned her and who, on a whim, could equally snuff her opportunities if they so wished (e.g. if the disapproved of her choice of teachers, producers, agents, managers, etc..).

      Moreover, after all these experiences, we agree comps are a waste of precious financial resources for all the reasons we experienced. By the time you do 4-7 comps in a year (forget the cost of auditions on top), if you make no return, you will have virtually funded your own private tuition at a major school in under 3 years and probably found your own “lucky breaks”.

      What is “viable” depends on where you live and where the work is. From Australia, to compete in the US for anything is scarcely worth the effort and cost, unless you have seriously tight networks to pull you through all the hurdles you have to jump. Italy is considerably easier, we find, but we are told very few Australians make it in Italy. The ones that do, do it by their own means and hardly anyone knows much about them as it appears many don’t get there through the major companies (a.k.a. “official channels”).

      We also discovered that there are always alternate, “back door” means of getting into opera companies (and I am not talking “the casting couch”), but that is all about being seen, heard and known for all the right reasons.

      This is a wonderful article and discussion, Thanks Matt!

  17. Wonderful article, thank you for writing it! My husband is going through this process himself now, somewhere around your step #5-6, and this has helped bring clarity to what lies ahead (and I can say for other readers, this article is VERY spot on speaking from our experience with his career so far!). However, I was wondering if I could ask for clarification about your comment “For this part of your career, you must live in NYC (there are rare exceptions).” Why is that? Do all opera companies all year round audition in NYC only (as opposed to just going out there in December)? Even if the answer is yes, it seems like it would still be less expensive to live somewhere inexpensive and fly out for those than it would be to live in or near NYC…though I do know that at least some main stage auditions don’t occur in NYC, so you’d have to fly out anyway (he’s got two coming up that are in the DFW area for example).

    Thank you again for writing this! Experiencing the opera ladder from an outside perspective, there’s not enough business-of-the-industry talk and so many aspiring vocalists are treated like the proverbial mushroom until they find their own answers or quit.

    1. Actually, “must” is probably not the best way of saying that. “It can be extremely helpful,” is probably the better way of saying it. Living in NYC has big advantages when you’re building a career. It’s a great networking opportunity, there are many opportunities that don’t necessarily pay but build great connections and help you get rep under your belt, and there are companies that audition outside of the winter months and you can best take advantage of those auditions when you actually live in the city itself. That being said, there are other big metropolitan areas offer great opportunities as well. Texas for instance is a great place to live as a singer. Boston has a lot of opportunities as does Philadelphia and Washington DC. Thanks for asking the question, I think I’ll go back and edit that in when I get a few free minutes. ~Matt

      1. Thank you for the reply, sorry for missing it for a year and a half! Glad to hear you put Texas as a good option, as that’s where we positioned ourselves once he got good representation. So far, it has worked in our favor…he flies out pretty regularly, but he has to do that (and for much longer) when he has roles anyway. I do have a bit of a sense of disconnect from the industry when he’s between gigs and auditions for a while, but I don’t know quite how much he’s missing out on.

  18. This is fantastic information for all classical singers, and I am sure it is all very true! I want to leave a comment for all the competitive young singers reading this that may be discouraged. I am in my early thirties, and I’m finally able to go back to college because of geographic reasons to finish my music degree, and I’m finishing it in Voice performance, because that is what I love! Most of the time, divine intervention will show you the way. Your voice changes through the years and so will your mind. You may want to pursue an opera career when you first go into college, and then you may be led into a different direction in music or in life. Just make sure you do what you love, and you are involved with it, or you will regret it! During my childhood I always received signs from another realm. When I was a child, I was in no way by any means around opera or classical music at all, but it always seem to find me anyway, and I would sing my little lungs out. Then when I was in intermediate school, I sang and people could not believe the voice coming out of my little body, and I was in choir from that day forward. I went to college to pursue music, and I pursued the only music degree they had. I sang the lead role of Mabel from Pirate of Penzance, and then I moved to Alaska. From then on, throughout my last few years I have made it into every symphony chorus that I auditioned for, and they looked at me like, “where did you come from”? (If people feel that way about your voice, that is a definite sign!) Everyone would tell me how much they loved my voice and that I should pursue opera. If you had things happen throughout your life like that, then you should embark on your path and fight with all your might to live your life in music. Basically, if you feel it deep in your heart, you should go for it, at any age. All I know is that we only have one life to live, and I am going to do it with a bang! I am tired of hearing this age thing. What a bunch of ridiculousness. It should be about the rare beautiful art, and what is more important, than the rare voice? I know they are difficult to find, but they are out there, and no one even knows of them. I sing coloratura with a full voice on the last Eb on the piano, just as Joan Sutherland did. Now, this is the main advice that you should know. If you are going to do this, I recommend you start listening to the top 10 performed operas’ daily(that way you will learn them faster), and then branch out when opera starts to grow on you. 🙂 Begin studying the history of operas and their synopsis. You can find a mega list of composed operas on Wiki on the internet. Finally, drink a ton of room-temp water, take care of your voice, eat your vegetables, and take care of your skin, so you can look younger! Good luck and God Bless!

  19. The fact that there are 9,000 students and only 150 opera companies should tell you right up front your chances of making a living are pretty slim.
    I founded a small light opera company in 2013, and we listened to material from about 100+ young singers hoping to be in our shows. It was painfully obvious that some of them were never going to have a singing career. Some weren’t as good as me (not a pro).
    It has to be assumed that some music schools take students as a source of revenue, to help pay the bills and provide the funds for the ones getting full scholarships. If you’re not being offered a full ride everywhere you apply, take heed.
    Based on the fees listed above, working for CHLOE must have been like winning the lottery. We paid our principals much better, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We also did not charge for auditions, and never will. We provided modest motel accommodation, and the principal singers were only in town for eight days, so they could take some other gigs.
    We’re planning now for our show in 2015, and looking forward to hearing more young singers. We love being able to offer opportunity, but again, have a Plan B.

    Regarding the comment about Netrebko – yes, she’s a mediocre singer at best, and obviously got some of those big roles via other methods. On the other hand, Ruth Ann Swenson was one of my great favorites, and I finally got to hear her live at Baltimore’s Norma (their last production). She was beyond my expectations!

  20. I am a Senior in high school right now, scared to death because i know how difficult it is to pursue my dream of an Operatic career. I live in FL and i plan on getting a bachelors in music and master in business. Will i be able to have a functioning job in business while on the side searching for auditions and opportunities without totally becoming in debt? I really want to become an opera singer, but i am so scared. I think i have read this post a million times trying to prepare myself.

    1. Kelsie,

      I think your plan is wonderful. You are approaching this decision intelligently which is what my goal was in writing this post. A business degree is a great idea and it should really open up a lot of options for you. There are some great state school programs in Florida, especially Florida State. If you can get a degree at an in-state institution you will save a lot of money. You should also know that there are usually decent scholarships for voice performance majors at schools with strong choral programs. So keep that in mind when considering where to audition. While there are not usually large scholarships for business school, graduate student loans are easier to obtain from the government and will usually cover all of your tuition and living expenses. Your payments are then limited to 10% of your income. Not a bad deal at all.

      I wish you nothing but the best of luck. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Matt

  21. I found this article from a google search of ‘ opera singing business plan establishing a career auditioning’ ! I am glad that this article exist. I wish I had some real practical advice when I first started to wonder down this unending path of opera. I am going to share this because I know it will help someone. I would like you to address the summer voice programs that are also unscrupulous ways of taking advantage of singers. I was unfortunately victim of a big scam in Salzburg. Since the industry has changed so much. Most opportunities for singers both beginning and advance are finding themselves victim of this new money making scam. Please address as well. Thank you again for this. Oh and though there are some fortunate singers that have made with out a bachelors. Going to school keeps you in the loop of what is going on in the industry. Without those connections you are figuratively singing in a black hole. The connections between teachers and YAP programs are better. Stay in school. Even if you don’t use your degree you can pay the rent through teaching or other degrees required jobs.

    1. Great point about the scams. You definitely have to do your research and be weary of new companies. It is really sad to say, but some people are unscrupulous and others truly think they have the funding to put up a specific kind of program only to discover later that they have run out of money.
      ~Matt

  22. Hi, like many have said this article was ridiculously helpful. I’m a junior in college in southern GA and am pursing a double major in music and psychology. My main passion is opera and I plan on getting a Masters in Performance. To be honest I have a baby girl and in all my research I haven’t read about one famous opera singer who had children BEFORE her career took off. Most articles I’ve read talk about how opera singers typically don’t have families until they’re at the end of their careers and not the start of it. Is it possible to live this lifestyle and pursue a successful career with a family?

    1. Kiara – I can’t say that I have ever met someone who had a child first. That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened, but it may be a little unusual. It is a tough life being a professional performer with a family. Constant travel and the unsteadiness of income can make being a parent more stressful than it already is. If you live in a major metropolitan area, it would be probably be easier. Especially if you had family support in that city. Now that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. If you truly love opera with all of your heart and soul, you will find a way to make it work. If you don’t love it that much, then it may take more work and sacrifice than you are willing to give.

      All the best ~ Matt

    2. I’d just like to put in since Matt said he hadn’t met someone- I know several. I’m sure that how financially supportive a spouse is (if a spouse is in the picture), is a major factor of this too (and I can’t speak to that for these folks), but I know several who are getting regular work (supporting ones at A-B houses and leads at C’s). They’re young and they have young children, but they’re making their way forwards in their career…maybe slower if they hadn’t any, but who could say?

  23. I have been singing for a long time. I have been in many opera productions, such as: Pirates of Penzance ,(where I played Mable). I have also been in opera grand rapids opera chorus, for several seasons.we have done: Carmen, Tosca, Palliachii, La Boheme, etc. I am a sophmore in high school, however, our advisory teachers have been having us look at colleges since we were freshman. I have my heart set on Julliard, however, i have other plans as well: Berkeley, Oberlin, Manhattan, U of M, GVSU, etc. I loved your article. I am glad that you pointed out the obvious, and how realistic an operatic career can be. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what music colleges there are for opera performance. thank you, and again, I am greatly astounded by your article.

    1. Anna – I think it is most important to find a school where you can learn to sing REALLY well, learn to act REALLY well, and learn your languages. While I am somewhat of a music theory nerd, I don’t think the strength of the music theory or music history classes are nearly as important. I also don’t think you should make choices based on ensemble opportunities or extra curricular activities. A really fine ensemble can really improve your musicianship, but if you don’t learn how to sing well enough to compete at a professional level, it doesn’t really matter what your musicianship is like. My wife was able to minor in theatre when she got her undergraduate degree. If you can do that, I highly recommend it. I think your school choices are good to start. Also look into Louisiana State University, University of Houston, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and of course Shenandoah Conservatory. Start searching for “bachelor of music vocal performance” and you should find more than enough options to keep you busy for the next two years. Also check out ClassicalSinger.com ~Matt

  24. I so wish I had known all of this when I was an undergrad vocal performance major, or even a senior in high school. I’ve never had the money to invest into things such as YAP, like an opera career requires. All of my professors told me over and over that I would make it to the Met. None told me about everything that would have to happen FIRST. My hopes were up so high! Imagine my disappointment when I finally figured out that my dream was not going to be fulfilled.

    I’m now teaching choir in a charter school and I have to say I’m glad I’m here. I love it. So it’s my new dream! 🙂

    That said, thank you for this article. It is GOSPEL. I hope more high school seniors (and even undergrads, before it’s too late!) get a hold of this and are provoked to do some more thinking on what they want to do with their life!

  25. The degree in music/voice doesn’t guarantee anything, that’s for sure. Many people with high hopes, but the world of opera is small and opportunities to move ahead are limited.

  26. Okay…. these past 3 months I have been wrestling what I should do for my career. I was accepted into 3-5 Musical Theater/Theater programs and was accepted with scholarships into the 1 Voice Performance/opera program that I auditioned for. I truly do have a passion for both things (i’ve already studied VP for 2 years now) which is why I auditioned to see what would happen. I was so excited to be admitted to a classical program that I have been trying to maneuver it so that I would dance minor at the BM VP school and take acting classes as electives. Was it wrong in thinking that a BM VP with a dance minor and theater classes would have made me more competitive than a regular BFA MT major? I know everyone has a different path into the business. I am now thinking that Musical Theater might be a better way to go as far as “the full package” although it breaks my heart to give up a VP degree as well. Seeing all of this outlined though really helps.

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