Friday, January 28, 2011

What you do matters

I am well aware that our profession is one that can that can be soul and ego defeating at times. I have lived through those moments where I have asked myself "why do I keep trying to do this?"

All of us at various times experience the following:

1. Explaining to relatives, family, and friends what it is you do (i.e. no, Josh Groban is not an opera singer Aunt Mildred, what I do is different).
2. You scratch your head and say, how did I live on that much money last year?
3. An adjudicator or artistic director makes you feel two inches tall after hearing you sing, thus rendering, with a single phrase, the last 10 years of your life, futile.

I could go and on, but I'm sure you get the idea.

I completely support when someone says to me that they are getting out, because they can't live through that anymore. There is no shame in having fought the good fight and moving on.

If you decide to stick with it, and continue to try to make a living with your voice, that is also OK.

No, as singers we don't cure disease, end war, or feed the hungry......


Opera Singers do add a glittering bit of light to the world as we know it. That is a noble endeavor - we visit museums today to view the creativity of human kind over the centuries - there is no more cherished footprint of any civilization than its creativity. Luckily, since the invention of the phonograph, the human voice can now be captured in the same way a Renoir is captured.

So, when you are in that practice room trying to spin out a phrase of Mozart, Monteverdi, Rorem or Puccini, know that perhaps you will end up inspiring one person or millions....and that's a good thing.


  1. To carry the analogy even further:

    As a facilitator for KC Artist Link for the past couple years, I've had the pleasure of small group salons with a vast amount of artists of all disciplines.

    One MAJOR thing I got from this last year was the word curation.

    Follow my metaphor here...

    You the singing artist are a work of art. An opera company is the gallery, or museum. Each gallery/venue has a curator, or a gallerist who manages what is shown on the wall.

    The gallerist usually has a very keen eye for what they are looking for to hang on their wall. He more than likely will not hang a Renoir when he is looking for Shepard Fairey.

    Maybe you are a contemporary opera singer, or a Verdi Baritone, whatever the case may be, the casting director or artistic director isn't going to cast you if you are not going to fit on their wall.

    Take that to management as well. An art dealer as agent.

    The thing is to audition smarter and not to so much audition everywhere.

    Look at your roles, really study what you can sing and more importantly, what you CAN sing. then go from there.

    I'm still retooling my rep. It may take some time, but I'd rather be the best Mr. Owen/Man With a Paint Box than a crappy Otello.

    Nathan Granner

  2. As to point #3, it is amazing that you can work so hard for so long and then all your accomplishments feel futile in the wake of a mean or bad comment from a critic or adjudicator.

    I believe that art is important and I have to believe that I have something to contribute to it. I sound better than two years ago and I will sound even better in two years, so I keep going on.