Hello kind readers! My name is the Voracious Vocalist and I am a friend and colleague of the esteemed Sybaritic Singer. After spending an afternoon re-reading Sybie’s fabulous blog, one sentence really struck chord with me and highlighted an idea that I feel like I am constantly proselytizing myself. On Day 7 of this year’s fantastic #28DaysToDiva series our author wrote, “one of the most important points is that we cobble together the career that works for each of us individually – not just a generic idea of a successful singing career.”
I have seen so many young singers angst over getting into just the right college, so they can proceed to obsess over the very best graduate school. Then they zoom in on young artist programs and plan out how they will certainly proceed to management auditions and then the obligatory comprimario roles blah blah blah… and voila! They surely will be “successful” and happy and true vocal artists and all that. Right. Well, I have watched dozens of times how these same singers become baffled when Step A, doesn’t really guarantee Step B, or Step C for that matter. A classical singer’s career has no guaranteed linear progression. Forward momentum is, of course, absolutely necessary and obligatory (this blog is a perfect resource to research this topic). Move forward or perish – like a shark, dear readers. However, the arts world is not some corporate worlds. There is no one ladder. Folks jump rungs and rappel to other ladders entirely.
The so-called singing “career path” is a myth that sets up most young singers for disappointment and confusion. Besides, we are creative types – a singular, narrow ladder/path keeps us much too focused on a small range of artistic opportunities. Instead, I encourage you to leave the ordinary path and discover new ones of your own. Don’t be afraid to dive off-course into the sometimes thorny – but much more invigorating – undergrowth! It will stretch you as an artist and open you up as a musical entrepreneur to new projects and markets. Take a straight theatre audition, make a connection with a new composer, volunteer for an arts organization, try directing – or painting, or writing, or skiing. Take a shot at the new day job that will give you a new perspective on yourself and your capabilities. In fact, do it all at once. Because there is no career “path” – just a wide, wild, ever-expanding career meadow. Make your own paths all across that meadow. Many of them. Because we are artists and one narrow, crowded path? Well, that’s just not the place for us. Frolic in the meadow, folks. It’s waiting for you!
Courtney Kalbacker is a dedicated opera performer and production professional based in Baltimore, MD. She has taken on many roles both on and off stage including serving as Director of Production at Opera Anne Arundel Community College, an AGMA Stage Manager at Lyric Opera Baltimore, and as a Stage Director at Silver Finch Arts Collective, Unmanned Stagecraft, Oklahoma City University and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Since moving to the area three years ago, she has also performed as a coloratura soprano with D.C.’s Capital Fringe Festival, Lyric Opera Baltimore, The Victorian Lyric Opera Company, Harford Choral Society, HUB Opera Ensemble, Silver Finch Arts Collective and at venues abroad including the Warsaw Chamber Opera and Kingshead Theatre (London). Most recently her production and performance of the new one-woman opera The Young Wife (K. Brochocka) won “Pick of the Fringe – Best Opera or Musical Theatre” at the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival. More info at www.CourtneyKalbacker.com.