Monthly Archives: June 2014

How does opera really work?

After a number of rough business moments this past year, I’ve been faced with some serious questions about opera. It’s such a peculiar industry- essentially functioning as a non-profit in the United States, and sponsored by governments in most European countries, and yet the managers and opera house directors are artists are all working for a profit, because, heh- you have to make money to live.

Most artists gloss over this point, because they only aim to do best what they love: sing fricking beautiful music. But then at some point, they have a contract that goes haywire, and suddenly they are wondering how it all really works. So, after I encountered such a thing, I decided to go back to school, and take an online course on Music Business with Berklee School of Music online.

The 3 most valuable things I learned:
1) Opera in the states exists only because of donors. Not only do they love to hear it, they also pour their money and their lives into it, just so that artists can continue to create. Never, ever, ever, shun a donor.
2) The wider music business world is much more dynamic than opera. Classical music is in a sort of bubble, which technology is just beginning to chip away on.
3) An artist can be their own manager, but not necessarily their own agent. They need someone else to help them establish connections.

The most exciting things I learned:
4) Artists don’t need to be limited to just one area of the industry. If you like some sort of other music, do that too. Think of it as cross-training.
5) I like opera/electronica (like in The Fifth Element), and I want to and CAN make that.
6) I also like video games, and want to and CAN make their music TOO.

I still love and sing opera around the world, and will continue to post about it. But I’m going to post about all kinds of music now- and I hope you’ll read it, and listen to it, and love it as much as I do.

After 3 months of Music Business, my happiness level sky-rocketed. I feel more in control of my life than ever before, because I know better how to direct it.

How Musical Men See Women

Ana Maria Otamendi and I met in the summer of 2011 at Merola, with the San Francisco Opera. We worked on a few songs together there, and that sparked a collaboration which has been incredibly dear to me. I love her insightfulness and creativity, and her playing is magical.

So, we took this collaboration one step further, to putting on a concert about a subject she and I both found incredibly interesting: songs from the point of view of a woman, but composed by a man. We performed this 4-part program in Houston at the University of St. Thomas in February of 2014.

We designed the program to follow a woman through her progression in life, beginning with childhood, to first love, to marriage & children, late life, and then finally, death. We decided to not be barred by language or time period- just follow the theme. The program lasted nearly 2 hours, with Ana Maria guiding the audience with a thoughtful presentation before each part. We’ll try to cut it down if we do it again. :-)

There are many clips up on youtube, if you want to see the concert.

Im Zimmer (by Alban Berg):