Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Who Ever Thought it Would Be So Hard to Give Away Something for Free

As one of my soapbox issues is how much I resent people who belittle those who sing or perform for free, I now have yet another argument.  Unless you have a large living room with a piano, it is really not all that easy to find places to do solo singing for free. 

First, the opera and other groups that don't pay people.  Those are so overrun with semi-pros, emerging pros, and pros who can't get work (or aren't paid to sing roles that they want to sing) that they are off the table for someone like me.  I do sing in a church choir that performs high level music (and I insist on staying in the soprano section to keep my upper register in shape) but choral music just doesn't "do it" for me.  Yes, I love being in that choir and aren't giving it up any time soon, but I would like to be doing more.  I also occasionally get to sing a solo, but solos at this church are not a big priority, so we're talking about maybe four times a year.  The church hosts other events, but needless to say because it's on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the people who perform there are "up and coming" chamber music groups.  They even hosted some of Marilyn Horne's foundation receipients' recitals in the past.  A secular-themed talent show for the choir people? Not happening.  They have poetry slams and "coffee houses" for people who sing and play the guitar, but nothing that I would be interested in doing. 

So here's what I've done so far, since I started singing in 2004.

1. Two talent shows at the Unitarian Church, before they dumped all the classical music.
2. One concert at a cash-strapped church that wanted to raise money.
3. One concert version of Samson et Dalila at the church where I sing now, as part of a series to raise money for the Tiffany windows.
4. A concert at a studio that I had to pay to rent, where the air was so foul (they had an air conditioner that they had not cleaned) that I choked my way through it.
5. A concert version of the Verdi Requiem at the church where I sing. I billed it as a fundraiser for their food pantry.
6. A concert version of Carmen sponsored by a woman who runs a group that puts on various sorts of performances.  I also sang in concerts on September 11 and in her living room, but at some point she either "went off" classical music, or "went off" me, or both.
7. Two abridged concert operas at an LGBT senior center (I might call them again; the only problem is that I had a quarrel with a case worker there; on the other hand, she has nothing to do with the special events staff).
8. Two concerts at a nursing home.

If readers are asking "why now"? The reason is that I have come to two dead ends trying to find a concert venue.  The nursing home where my partner was last year, which has a beautiful room with a piano, had originally said that I could get in contact with the event coordinator, but I left him two voice mail messages and left one message with his assistant (live) but they never called back.  Today I got in touch with a library where my voice teacher will be performing with the pay to sing group he sings with (he doesn't pay anything, as they always need men) and they said they didn't need any more musical events right now and that I would be subject to "extreme vetting" (fine, but I think Hell will freeze over before they get in touch with me).

So I just want to put my head down and sob.  I feel that I have all this huge solo voice that's bursting out of me and nobody is interested.  So OK, I'm not a finished product, I'm not young, and I have no resume other than the above.  But to anyone, even a music lover with an ear, who's not an obsessive opera afficianado or a high level trained classical singer, I have something to offer.  And I'm not ready to throw in the towel.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Videos! A Dream Come True

I got the videos back from my recital.  First of all, if anyone reads this, and you are someone I know and trust, just leave a comment with your email address (I screen comments, so it won't be published) and I will send you some links.

And, before I comment on my feelings about the videos, I want to say that for the past, let's say 5 years, certainly as long as everyone and their dachshund has had a smart phone, I have yearned for videos of me singing.  These were not easy to come by, let me tell you.  My friends with smart phones were not that skilled at using them (they would make a video, it would be too big to upload, they would give up, and I would get tired of nagging them), or they didn't even own one (e.g. my voice teacher), so I was left empty handed.  And this stung particularly because the younger singers I was/am so envious of, seem to have a gaggle of family, friends, teachers, and coaches, always at hand to document their every song.

Recently, I will say, I have found someone at church who is IT-savvy, and he made two videos of me which I am glad to have.  I sounded good in both, but did not like how I looked in one, which was good for me to see, because I can use it as a teaching tool.

The fact that a videographer documented this recital really was just something that fell into my lap.  She has been making a legacy project for my partner, videoing her telling stories, so I asked her how much she would charge to video my recital and she told me she would do it for free, because she planned to use part of it as part of my partner's legacy project.

She is a professional who makes videos as part of her day job, and she knows how to do good camera work, and how to create files that I can store on my hard drive and upload to Youtube.  Did I tell you I have a Youtube channel?  It never had much on it, but now it is filled out with most of the clips from the recital.

All in all, I was happy with them.  Here's a recap.

  • O Had I Jubals' Lyre. I was very pleased with that.  Actually I was surprised, because it was the first thing I sang, I wasn't feeling well, and I was a little nervous.  I took a couple of catch breaths in the runs but you can't hear them.
  • The Drinking Song.   I was also pleased with that, at least with how I sounded.  The high A was good.  I was not so happy with how I looked.  I was doing something fidgety with my hands that looked a little like I was doing something risque.  Actually I was probably tugging at my skirt.  Next time I will tell whoever is videoing to cut the frame off at my waist.
  • Cruda Sorte. Overall the coloratura was good, but I wish I had a plummier sounding lower middle register.  But I looked like I was having fun!
  • Moonfall. Really good.
  • Mon Coeur.  Probably the best I've ever sung it.
  • Habanera. Meh  Not my best rendition of it.  I just wasn't all that engaged with it
  • In Betty's/Buddy's Eyes  Not good.  That's too bad because I had hoped to use it as part of the legacy project.  I didn't know it well enough, so at one point I sang a wrong note that was out of tune.  It's such a great song, so I may revisit it at some point.  I never sang it at a lesson, which was probably a mistake.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream.  That went really well.  I had fun!  Including with the ad libbing.
  • Waltz Me Around Again Willie.  Again, fun!
  • Let Me Call You Sweetheart.  Heartwarming.  I invited the audience to sing along, which I had also done last time.  I am going to use this for the legacy project.
  • I Dreamt I Dwelt.  Good until the very end, when my throat got tight.  I was aware of that while I was singing.  I didn't post it anywhere, but probably no one except another singer or a voice teacher would have noticed that.
  • Home Sweet Home.  Made me cry.  I just love love love that song.  I will use that for the legacy project.
My only disappointment now is how few "likes" these got on Facebook, compared with how many likes I get when I post something about my partner, or even when I post a status update saying I was happy with how something went.  I wonder if people just don't see these videos in their feed?  (I'm still not quite sure what the difference is between a "feed" and one's Facebook Home page; when I want to see other people's posts I go to my home page.)  As I've probably said in some of my less than happy posts from 4 or 5 years ago, the young singers I was mentioning get oodles of likes and shares for all their videos. 

Anyhow, what I should say is having these is priceless because most of them are to cherish, and the ones that are not are to critique, which is what I wish I had had access to all along.

Oh, and in other news, I heard back from the managed care company that is handling my partner's Medicaid recertification, and they said that all the paperwork and financials looked in order, so they are submitting it to the city.  So now I just have to wait.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

So Why Are So Many of My Former Friends Famous?

Yes, this is just a typical Thursday morning whine, triggered by the random googlings of a bored copyeditor.

In what appears to be my most-read post, I discovered several years ago that a drugged out anorexic bar hopping roommate that I had in 1969 became someone famous (although still drugged out and anorexic).  Who knew? By the time she became famous I was sober and long gone from that scene.

Well!  The other day, I googled two different roommates from the same era (c. 1970), and found that both of them are or were famous enough to have their own Wikipedia pages, one (who died several years ago) for things that were unsurprising (although the level of her fame was quite surprising), the other for holding public office.

And it was only a month or so ago that I saw that a woman with whom I used to socialize as part of a group on holidays (before my friends' great migration to either the afterlife or warmer climes), had not just an editorial obituary in the TIMES, but a front page obituary.

For a long time, I blew off the fame and fortune of young women I grew up with, from the family physician who became a regular TIMES columnist to the female choral conductor who became one of the first female symphony orchestra conductors in the country, to a famous essayist and a famous novelist. I don't recall being particularly envious, mostly because these women were not happy.  (I don't know about the novelist; I didn't know her very well when I was growing up, but neither the physician nor the conductor ever found a life partner despite numerous failed efforts, and both they and their mothers did a lot of complaining about this. And the essayist's writing style is a melange of sarcasm, bitterness, and wit, although I have no idea if this reflects her actual feelings, or is simply her writer's "voice".)

In any event, whether I sometimes fleetingly envied these women or not, I could rationalize that they became famous because they had worked hard: going to medical school, graduate schools, yes, studying and focusing on personal development instead of on dating and romance.  So I had made a different choice.

But the three women I began this post by referencing were not that different from me.  They had all dropped out (although the politician obviously at some point "dropped back in" with a vengeance; she has both an MD and a JD degree).  So how did their involvement in various subcultures and counter-cultures lead to their making a "name" for themselves and mine did not?

And I did an informal study once (why not? I edit manuscripts full of data) and found that approximately 50% of the people I have met in the years since I stopped working full time (at church, in my Pilates class, at women's circles) either went to prestigious colleges, have graduate degrees, or have degrees (or careers) directly or indirectly connected to the performing arts.

So where are the rest of us?

One tiny ray of hope is that I will have a "legacy project".  Right now the project is for my partner.  The senior agency we got involved with offers this option to their clients.  So I will have videos of her talking.  I desperately wanted those because I had photographs, but no audios, other than voicemail messages, which are quite ephemeral.  And bits and pieces from my recital will be interspersed.  And it will all be on the organization's web site.  And if she dies, I can become a client of that organization too.  I don't need "services" but I would sure love to participate in some group activities and have a legacy project of my own.  And if I participate in group activities there, who knows? I might actually meet some retired paper pushers who went to a city or a community college!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Recital Recap

First, I suppose I should apologize for not having something to say about the horrendous events yesterday in Las Vegas.  I guess I should say here that everyone else has no doubt said whatever there is to be said.  I don't generally talk about mass tragedies, the way some people don't talk about politics  I usually feel that I don't have anything meaningful to add. 

As for my recital, overall I felt that t went well, although I won't have a definite sense of it until I see the videos.  The woman who is making my partner's legacy videos came and video'd the whole recital without charging me, which was above and beyond.  She is going to use some of the songs I dedicated to my partner as part of the legacy videos which will be on the nonprofit's web site.

For some inexplicable reason, I started getting a migraine when I got to the venue, which is very unusual.  Since going through menopause 17 years ago I hardly ever get migraines any more unless I go too long without eating or drinking coffee, which was not the case.  My sleeping habits have become erratic, maybe that is it.  I always get enough sleep, but it is often in two segments (Friday night I fell asleep at 10:30, woke up at 3:30, went back to sleep at 5:30 and woke up at 8:30) or I will go to sleep and wake up very early (Saturday night before the recital I fell asleep at 9:30 and woke up the next morning at 5:30.) Which is why, now that I only sing things that I plan, I never book a concert in the evening.

There were a few rough spots, which I noticed, but I doubt most other people did.  My voice teacher may mention them at my next lesson.  Although I could tell that he was mostly pleased.

Two friends who live in Florida came because they happened to be in New York for a few weeks.  They used to live here and we used to go to the opera with them.  At that time I wasn't singing.  I was a little hurt because one of the women said, first, "Wow! You really are a real opera singer" but then added "even if you're no longer at your peak".  This hurt me, on the other hand, it is so off base, that how could I be hurt by it? I know that whatever imperfections I still have, I sing so much better than I used to.

One thing that hurts (and in a way this goes back to my musings on amateur versus professional singers) is that no matter how hard I work, I will never attain the "polish" of someone who went through a Masters of Music program at a conservatory (although I know that I have a better natural instrument than some; some graduates just market their small, musicianly voices to be paid choristers in churches or with symphonies). The problem is that as a woman first in her 50s, then in her 60s, with a variety of responsibilities, there simply was no way that I could become proficient in several languages, and get the kind of currying and combing that people get if they sing in performance classes and in front of juries all the time, while also working on vocal technique.  Practicing an hour a day, learning repertoire (including choir music), and at least understanding what I was singing, has been about all I have been able to manage.  The most I can afford financially is two voice lessons a month (which is fine; when I started I had enough basic technique to be able to work on my own and progress from lesson to lesson) and two sessions with an accompanist if I am going to be performing.  I have improved my musicianship by singing with the choir, and if I haven't taught myself to sightread, I know it is out of laziness and lack of interest.  But my lack of "polish" is something I am keenly aware of.  One way, at least, that I am making progress with this is by asking someone to make a video every time I sing a church solo.  That is not a big deal; I just had to bite the bullet and ask.  So I can see myself and see what needs fixing.

In other news, it turns out I will not be singing at the funeral.  Apparently the woman who died left instructions for what she wanted (why not??) and a soloist singing the piece I had chosen was not a "fit".  (Apparently neither was a choir anthem.)  So it will be interesting to see what the funeral is like.  I plan to go in any event, to pay my respects.

In other parts of my life, I am working on a memoir, about religion, British literature, and church music.  A woman I know who is a retired literature professor said she would read the chapter I wrote about reading Dickens.

And (in the not so good news) I now have to get my partner recertified for Medicaid.  I'm terrified that if the paperwork isn't in order she'll be struck off.  I just have to have faith, I guess, that all the knowledgeable people I have working with me will see that everything is as it should be.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Has Feminism Changed What it Means to be a Smart Woman?

This post has been brewing for a while, so no, it was not really triggered by anything specific.

I have written several iconoclastic posts about feminism; mostly with the thrust that "society" thrived more when there were a certain number of (middle class) women at home.  I never thought that a woman's place was in the home, simply that if no one is at home for most of the day, there is no sense of community. The elderly are neglected, no one knows that a neighbor has recently suffered a loss and would like some company, and if you're home sick you're on your own (literally; you're probably the only human being in your building except the super from 7 am to 7 pm).

Now my point is something else entirely.  That women who used to be considered "smart" (ahem, like Yours Truly) no longer are.

I suppose I was raised like a "Jane Austen girl" (as were most of my peers), except without the exhortation to marry a man with money.  I guess that was just assumed.  We were supposed to get a liberal arts bachelors degree (period) from a good college with the unspoken assumption that we would marry a decently paid professional.  Unlike girls slightly down the social scale, the goal was not to be sexy or adept at baking or sewing, but to be interesting to such a professional.

Of course, ironically, I never married a man at all, the woman I became involved with had an "allergy" to work, and I didn't even go to college until I was in my 30s.

But the training stuck.  By "training" I mean the following.  I took ballet lessons. I took piano lessons.  I sang a little.  I drew a little.  By the time I was 16 I had read all of Shakespeare and most of the classics.  I knew a little French. I had been to countless museums and could tell a Monet from a Manet.  I even knew a little about the latest developments in medicine and what was going on in the news.  I  had a large vocabulary and could engage in witty banter.  But that was it.

As the years went by, people thought I was "smart" because I peppered my conversation with quotes from Shakespeare and went to museums in my spare time instead of to sporting events. I knew it was wrong to say "between you and I".  I could describe almost any experience I  or a friend had had in a way that sounded intelligent, particularly when I waxed analytical about it and made connections from it to the larger world.  I could hold my own in a discussion that skirted the edge of disagreement.

One day (I don't know when this happened; maybe when I stopped working and got active on the Internet) I suddenly realized that to be "smart" now meant that to disagree with someone you had to cite sources and provide data models.  That conversation was less a meeting of two anecdotal yet astutely crafted memoirs and more like duelling textbooks.  That you had to know as much about Senate rules as a senator, as much about climate change as a scientist, as much about the physiology of singing as an anatomist.  I am totally at sea in this world, let me tell you.  I am not "competitive".  And I am certainly no one's idea of "smart", no matter how many "Great Books" I've read.

I'm wondering.  Is this a female thing?  Did feminism make women smart in ways that men were always smart? Or did social norms change?  Or is it all the sources one can link to on the Internet?  (I heard lots of erudite talk at my dinner table and I never remember anyone pulling out a reference book.)

Anyhow, I'm bowing out.  I'm not smart.  Just cultured.

Let me read, sing, and look at art, and leave the data slugfest to other people.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

First Rehearsal for October 1 Recital, and...

Yesterday I had the first rehearsal for my October 1 recital. It went much better than I had expected.  I was a little worried because 1. I had never tried to sing the entire program through to pace myself and 2. I had been a little under the weather.  At my lesson the day before my throat felt a little "raw", like my vocal cords were irritated.  It might be that I had spent the day before with my partner and when I am there I don't use my Neti pot in the morning.  Also the aides clean everything to a faretheewell with bleach.

The three difficult arias went well.  When I say "difficult" I don't mean in a league with Verdi; simply that they require me to be technically spot on.  The highest note in anything is an A.  I did better than I had expected to with "In Buddy's Eyes".  Sondheim rhythms are very tricky.  After singing it the first time I realized that I can sorta kinda listen to the accompanist and I will then know when to come in and on what note.  "Vanilla Ice Cream" was no problem at all.  I decided to pass on singing "Mon Coeur" and the "Habanera" because I could sing them in my sleep.  Next week (my second and final rehearsal) I told the accompanist that I wanted to do a runthrough, including my little spoken bits, and his piano solos, so that I can get a sense of the pace.

Other things on the horizon are a difficult soprano part in Ralph Vaughan Williams' "A Choral Flourish", which I have not had enough time to work into my voice, unfortunately.  I have been listening to it, and will hope for the best.  It sits in a high-ish tessitura although the highest note is a G.  That is the sort of tessitura that is comfortable for me if I'm singing a solo; less so if I'm singing a choral piece with noplace to take a breath.  I may have to skip a few measures. We are singing it at 9 am this Sunday. (Oy).

Then I put out a bid to sing at someone's funeral.  This is a woman who had been a member of the church for decades.  Someone asked the choir director if the choir was going to sing and he said he didn't think so, because a lot of the newer choir members wouldn't have really known this woman (she went into a nursing home 3 or 4 years ago).  I offered to sing Dvorak's "God is My Shepherd" because it was a piece she liked (I sang it once or twice on Good Shepherd Sunday and she came up to me and told me she liked it.) The choir director said that might be nice, and said he would ask the Minister of Music.  If I don't hear anything about it, I will write to the Minister of Music after my recital.  The funeral is scheduled for two weeks after that.

As for the "and".  I never know what is going to unleash a floodgate of regret about the past. When I say "the past" I mean those crucial years when I was between the ages of 13 and 30 (which includes years when I was sober and no longer smoking).  There were so many missed connections, bad choices, wrong priorities.  Sadly, the more people damn me for feeling regretful the more painful it is because I don't just feel regretful, I feel that my feeling regretful is a character flaw.  What happened was that I was listening to a radio program about a man who had been a major figure in SNCC.  He used to sing with our choir (until he died) and his wife still does.  It reminded me of that period when I was in high school when I was a little burgeoning hippie.  That was when a music teacher friend of my mother's told me how impressed she was with my singing voice.  I had spent my childhood imitating Julie Andrews.  I sang in the school glee club.  At the risk of sounding Trumpian, I do think the fact that I was not a minority with that particular vocal color made me not of interest to the school glee club director (who was white). It was the era of glorious African American pop singers, and less than glorious white protest music.  A lot of the white protest singers (Joan Baez excepted) used drugs.  I listened to lots of folk, rock, and other protest music during those years.  If only I had not started smoking, which I did because I wanted to be stylishly thin and I thought smoking would curb my appetite. I was never clinically obese, but I was built like Kim Novak in an era when the idol was Twiggy.  Really all I would have had to do not to throw my talent in the garbage (yes, I resurrected it, in part at 26, and then seriously at 54, but the big chance was gone forever) would have been to not smoke (or abuse alcohol and drugs, which I did later.)  Basically I could have done anything else.  Sing folk music, go to protest rallies, play hookie, neck promiscuously...

I realized recently that the reason I so loathe Bob Dylan is not only that his songs were part of the whole zeitgeist that destroyed me, but also that his voice so reflects what can happen to a voice if a person abuses their instrument.  He was known to abuse drugs.  I always said I hated the sound of his voice because it was too evocative of the wrong things, but now I think it's because it's a reminder of how I destroyed my own voice.  I realized this the other day when I saw the text of some of his songs written down in an article I was editing, and realized that they are quite interesting, and yes, that he is a poet, but I can never bear to listen to that voice.

Then I snap out of it and realize that so many people have so much to grieve for, so many different types of loss, and I just despise myself.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

An Old Hurt

First I want to say that my singing has been going so well lately (with a few setbacks) that there hasn't been much to complain about in that area.  I have also accepted that my primary mission in life right now is to provide love and care to another human being at the end of her life.  I don't have the time or energy to battle the NYC unpaid opera scene, which seems to mostly be a training ground for emerging professionals under 35, or a place for quasi-professionals in their 30s and 40s, or even in some cases 50s to sing roles they aren't getting paid to sing.  I have basically cut it off, the way someone who is made unhappy by a trigger tries to avoid it.  I never go to any of their performances.  I don't even go to the Met.  Tonight I am using some money I was given for my birthday to "treat myself" to something and going to the ballet.

I also had a (mutual) "unfriending frenzy" several years ago with most of the quasi-professional singers (some of whom are professional voice teachers) on Facebook.  I envied them, they had contempt for me (or for people that I perceived as being like me) and there were just too many negative emotions in the mix.  To me a "friend" on Facebook is someone who cares about me and my well-being and these people didn't.  I now only have a small number of professional or quasi-professional singers on my friends list.

Yesterday, I was heartsick to see a post by a woman I genuinely care about, someone who has been to Hell and back and come through it a heroine in blazing armor, containing some musings about the differences between "amateur" and "professional" singers (or musicians in general).  Of course I had a knee-jerk negative reaction to the whole thing, but after cooling off, my point is "Why Dichotomize"?  If a teacher wants to steer a student toward professional behavior, really, all she needs to do is list desirable behaviors.  Why bring in an adversary, the much caricatured amateur (who in people's minds mostly seems to be a lazy version of Hyacinth Bucket) at all. To make generalizations about amateur singers is no different than making generalizations about ethnic groups, blondes, or overweight people.  Some amateur singers are just that.  They sing choral music for fun.  They will absorb a certain amount of knowledge if it's presented to them but that's the extent of their interest.  They probably don't practice between rehearsals other than to plunk out the music if they're unsure of it.

In my choir there are no "professionals".  There are trained and untrained singers.  The untrained singers, yes, are more likely to not make choir rehearsal a priority, so they may be late or have a "conflict" that could have been avoided (like theater tickets - I wouldn't buy a theater ticket for a Thursday, for example). They most likely don't warm up at home; they wouldn't know how.  So they rely on the group warmup.  I doubt they complain about the group warmup, they are not knowledgeable enough.  I have complained about some of the group warmups (and I always warm up at home) obviously not to the choir director but occasionally to my voice teacher, if I find them vocally un-helpful (like singing a-le-lu-ya by attacking the same note four times all the way up to a high B flat and using that as a "test" of how high someone can sing). As for asking to switch parts if a part is uncomfortable (something else this woman mentioned - I am weaving a lot of her comments in and out of this post) again, that is something that a trained singer who understands her instrument might do (I certainly do, since as a mezzo I'm between a rock and a hard place a lot of the time), but an untrained singer probably wouldn't again, because she doesn't understand how her instrument works.  But why is that a "bad" thing? Not everyone has the same level of commitment or interest and if the group is an eclectic one, there are ways to make room for a variety of skill levels.

A number of other things that this woman mentions really have more to do with having a bad attitude or being a narcissist than being an amateur.  Most amateurs I know wouldn't presume to think they know more than the director.  They mostly just follow along - or leave, if they're uncomfortable, which is the prerogative of an amateur.  I know one rule I follow is that as I am not getting paid to sing, if I find myself in a situation that makes me uncomfortable (this only happened once) I will simply leave.  Which is one reason I now exclusively "make my own opportunities".  If I am producing a concert or an opera in a nursing home, I know that I will not be treated disrepectfully by a person in authority.

And I certainly don't think "amateurs think they're already great"!  Most are quite humble and know what they don't know.  If they aren't striving to improve as much as professionals or serious avocationals, it's because the art form for them is a hobby, not a passion, and they aren't willing to put in the extra work, and they know this.

As for "everything is beneath an amateur unless they're starring".  Well, I can only speak for myself.  That is somewhat true for the following reason.  My "biological clock" for doing anything with singing has ticked past the 11th hour.  I am living on borrowed time.  Singing Azucena, for example, in even the humblest of venues, is on my bucket list.  Singing in the chorus of Il Trovatore if I am not getting paid, is not. ETA: I must add here that I would never think of something as being "beneath me", only that it is not something I can afford to spend time on now, since I have so little of it, singing is not my livelihood, and there are roles, scenes, arias, and songs, that I yearn to sing before I physically can't any more.

And ah, if only professionals did not pay to partake!!  If only those people who rant and rave all over the Internet about how demeaning it is to be asked to sing for free would stay away from the opera companies that do not pay not to mention the pay to sings.  But these very people, these people who thought it was shocking that I sang the Habanera in a bookstore for free as a form of fun for me and the onlookers, insinuate themselves into every nook and cranny of the unpaid opera world, pushing the amateurs out.

The last audition I went to involved an opportunity to sing a role in a Handel opera from a book in someone's living room.  This was for a group that has "singthroughs" of operas in a woman's living room.  People pay her for the privilege.  I was apparently turned down because she wanted the opportunity to go to someone who was going to sing that role professionally and wanted a rehearsal.  I personally think that a group like that should be for people, yes, who have to audition to prove that they can sing the role, but whose only opportunity to sing that role or one like it will be in someone's living room.

Lastly, to think that only professionals recognize that a group of any kind is a number of people with different ideas and a person/team to pull it all together is absurd.  Anyone who has ever worked in an office, played a sport, or sung in an amateur glee club should know this. If you want to discourage negative behaviors, think of another word.