(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)
Ashutosh Khandekar - Editor
From the current issue of Opera Now
One of the tenets of success these days goes something like, ‘If the world hasn’t taken any notice of you by the time you’re 30, then it never will.’ Opera is no exception: an inordinate amount of time and energy goes into nurturing young artists and cultivating new talent among singers in their 20s. Though this can be a time to absorb the basic disciplines that go into a great career, it’s rarely a good moment to launch yourself fully formed into the profession. The truth is that unlike in most other artistic fields (or in sport, for that matter), real talent in the opera world often doesn’t emerge until singers approach their 40s. Before that, it’s a long, hard slog that includes an endless round of training, competitions and auditions, with the occasional low-paid job.
This is where competitions and awards can be an invaluable part of a singer’s armoury in the battle to the top of the profession. During the crucial years after leaving college and before the voice has reached its full maturity, competitions can bring in prize money to enable the most promising singers to keep in training until they are ready to launch their careers.
One heartening aspect of competitions, in respect to their crucial role in career-building, is that many of them acknowledge the fact that the whole dynamic of a singer's career depends on managing the ‘middle years’ as effectively as possible. Most good competitions have an upper age-limit of around 32. For Wagnerians, the age limit is often pushed up even further, to 45 in the case of the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition in New York. The BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World is considering extending its age-range up to 36 for future competitions – and perhaps it’s no coincidence that the competition’s patron, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, was 37 when she was propelled to international fame at the Wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981.
All this will be music to the ears of young singers who are taking their first shaky steps into a treacherous career and feel as if they are getting nowhere. For opera singers, life really does begin at 40.
Another source of support for singers as they build their professional credentials comes from awards. The International Opera Awards are fast establishing themselves as an influential forum that celebrates established artists, but also encourages new talent, which receives year-round support through the work of the Opera Awards Foundation. The Awards are a wonderful occasion for the opera-lovers to rub shoulders with great stars and to find out who’s who behind the scenes. We are delighted to be offering two tickets for the glamorous ceremony at the Savoy Theatre in London, followed by an exclusive dinner at the Savoy Hotel, featuring some of the biggest names in opera. See this month's reader competition on page 90 of the magazine for further details.
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