Interested in become an opera singer? Read on for all you need to know about the field and how to get one step closer to your dream of becoming an opera star.
There are many job duties required for being a musician in general. However, here are some specific job duties for becoming an opera singer that stems away from just musical talent. First, you will need advanced sight reading abilities. Being able to sight read music efficiently is a crucial part in the music industry, and especially in advanced opera roles and chorus’s. Next you need knowledge of Italian, German, French and English diction. Thankfully, much of this training comes from your undergraduate and graduate school experiences, however you need to be sure you know how to read and pronounce these languages efficiently. Next you’ll need good time management skills especially in terms of practicing. Knowing your limits in the practice room and how to use your time wisely will help you immensely in the opera world. Finally, you will need advanced memorization abilities. Many operas can be up to four hours long so it is crucial to know effective ways of memorization in order to learn a role in a timely fashion.
Where they work:
Opera singers work for opera companies and opera houses. Sometimes summer opportunities may arise where you work for smaller, non-profit opera shows and festivals. However, most of your time will be spent in an opera house.
Rehearsals for opera performances are mostly going to be during the evenings. However, the rest of your day is often filled with practicing for your roles, finding auditions, and maybe working a second job. Some opera singers end up travelling a lot during their career, however, a lot also end up staying in one geographic area as well. It all depends on what you see yourself doing. Opera singers are also usually hired on a contract for a particular season. Oftentimes they have to re-audition for certain houses in order to renew their contract.
In an opera company you often have a set number of people for a certain season you will be working with. Depending on the size of the opera company and also the demands of the repertoire for the season, you can be looking to work with anywhere from 40-150 people on the stage. Directors, coaches, and arts administration workers often stay the same for longer periods of time. However, many opera artists may come and go depending on their careers.
Education and Training:
Opera singers are often at least required to have a Masters degree in a voice related field. You are then often expected to audition and participate in a “Young Artist Program” featured by an opera house. These programs are often pre-professional opportunities for upcoming opera singers to learn how to work in an opera house before fully committing to a contract. Young Artist Program’s often give a stipend to the artists in their program.
Pay and Benefits:
Depending on the opera house, opera singers can expected to be paid by the show and rehearsal, or by a monthly/yearly stipend. Opera singers range from making $60,000 to $200,000. Like most musicians, benefits are often times not included upon hire, especially within the U.S. However, Europe not only has an abundance of opera houses, but often times these singers are given benefits as well as paid a little more fairly (again, depending on the opera house).
Employment for singers in general are expected to grow by 7% in the next few years. This includes opera singers, so expect an increase in jobs, especially after the pandemic once musical performances are expected to be in high demand.
Since there are many opera houses throughout the world, and oftentimes singers come from all over to audition for certain opera houses, the profession of being an opera singer is certainly open to international students studying music. Of course, since there are so many opera houses around the world and so many have different requirements, it is important to do your research in finding the house or company that will be the best fit for you.