Tuesday, 25 October 2011

ENO Opera Works

So, this autumn I have embarked upon a year on English National Opera's Opera Works professional development course. At this point in my career I feel that it is a very good step for me.

I have been singing lots of roles the last few years, since coming back to London from Sweden, but they have all been with small and medium size companies. On the one hand, I now have a huge amount of experience of stage work, and have tackled many of the main roles for my fach (plus quite a few which are probably too heavy for my voice). But because the financial situation for most of these smaller companies is precarious to say the least, I have had to, especially in the last year, work myself into the ground. And this isn't good for my morale and enjoyment of what I do in the long run.

This year already, I have performed around 150 times (including events and opera restaurant evenings). This is a huge amount of singing for an operatic voice. Although if I was a musical theatre singer it would be quite normal. The issue is that opera singing is uniquely demanding and requires a focus of skill, interpretation, technique and energy quite unlike any other form of singing.

So, to get by financially I have been undertaking this huge workload. I also have found it frustrating to be "hitting a brick wall" in terms of moving up to bigger companies. I know I have what it takes, and know that with a little tweak here and there I could easily be singing for the larger companies. My vocal technique is solid and improving all the time with the help of my teacher Robert Dean. And working with larger companies means that it becomes easier to hit the right balance between work and rest. Obviously you get better pay for what you do!

So, I decided that a course like this would be ideal. It is an introduction for me to the people and productions at one of the UK's premier opera houses. It gives me access to top coaching and to workshop sessions with great acting coaches and directors. And it gives ENO a chance to get to know who I am, as I get to know more about who they are.

As it is only part-time (one long weekend per month, a monthly coaching, attendance of ENO dress rehearsals, and some other events) it gives me a chance to do some freelance jobs this year in parallel, although I am doing far less than I may have done. You have to commit to attending the whole course. And as you are investing in it it would be silly not to. It seems a great opportunity to maximise my musical and dramatic potential!