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Thread: Pro opera singers that were 'late starters'?

  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    Default Pro opera singers that were 'late starters'?

    Hello everyone,

    I have started taking opera singing lessons out of passion about 8 months ago. I sang for a teacher at the University in my hometown and she asked me if I thought about becoming a professional. That's when I started to seriously ask myself that question - I didnt have to think for a long time. The answer was 'OMG yes!!'. The problem (?) is - I'm 25.

    I make OK money and I have a freelance job. I take 2 singing lessons a week (more/less) and I've also started catching up on music theory. I just stared taking lessons with a piano player where we also work on learning to recognise intervals, read notes etc. In my life I played the flute for 2 years, the guitar for 4 years and the piano for 2 years. I sang in an amateur choir once a week for about 1 year. I speak the major opera languages, I have basic acting training and stage experience thanks to my job. I actually wish I could stay on it all the time Rejection and critique is my daily bread and butter so that doesn't scare me off either.

    I have the full support of the people around me, the determination and... thanks to my job, I get to meet many people and so I also meet more and more opera singers and classical musicians. Just saying - we all know it's not 'just' about talent.

    As I do get trapped in self-doubts sometimes I was just wondering if anyone knew some people that made it from amateur to pro even though they started late? (My aim is not to be the next Maria Callas but to, perhaps in 4-5 years time, be able to make a debut and slowly drop my current profession and do opera full-time).

    Thank you for any inspiration!!))

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  3. #2
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
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    Kathleen Ferrier:
    Took up singing late, but did have a young life involving music study, as well as the deepest of female voices, the contralto.
    The deeper and larger voices are the latest to develop, and a true contralto is a rarity, meaning she was not just another good or great soprano or mezzo with 300 others showing up at any available audition -which is the harsh reality.

    The Metropolitan Opera, New York, allows any applicant one audition, only and ever. Otherwise they would be flooded with those who are not truly prepared, and those who did not pass and never will would return again and again.

    I would only temper your ambition to this, first -- that your first opportunity may be as a repertoire cast member who does the secondary or tertiary roles.

    You have a lot of 'catching up' to do re: theory and at least enough piano playing to plunk through your own accompaniments when you practice. Most all performers now active have a minimum of a master's degree in performance from either a major conservatory (private or national / state) or the same from a university or college with a very strong music department.

    They have learned at least one foreign language, one of those routinely appearing in common practice repertoire, and have learned how to pronounce three, four or more others (often too, learning international phonetics.) The solfege skill must be extremely high and fluent - look and accurately sing music you've never seen before. This skill now regularly includes expectations to sight-sing contemporary music, outside the normal common practice area of harmony, and atonal music.

    Do not rule out operetta or musicals, as they are often in the early background of those who now walk the boards of the major opera houses of the world.

    Best of luck.
    Last edited by PetrB; Feb-29-2012 at 05:59.

  4. #3
    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
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    The great German tenor Karl Erb,b.1878, was a municipal clerk and a member of a local choral society he had no proper voice training. At the age of 29 he was "discovered" and given a contract by the Stuttgart Opera, and made his debut in 1907. He moved to the Munich Opera in 1912 and became famous in Wagner, Mozart, Bach, Pfitzner and many others .He worked with Bruno Walter, Hans Knappertsbusch etc, unfortunately he was involved in a serious accident and had to give up the operatic stage. He continued in the field of lieder and became, in the opinion of many, the greatest lieder singer ever. He continued singing almost up to his death at age 81.

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