Welcome to Part Two of my 'Get a Job' Blog post!
Let's dive right back in. Really after this week, I want to wax poetic, but will save that for the end.
I enjoyed a lot of great benefits in my new "Job", singing full-time in Germany. I sang roles more than just twice in a production and really got to relax into different characters that would span over months, instead of a weekend. I sang dream roles, such as Donna Anna, Rusalka, and Madama Butterfly. I reprised favorite roles such as the Countess, Mimi, and Fiordiligi. I challenged myself singing German repertoire for Germans, which was terrifying and still is. I gained flexibility in being able to work with new colleagues, that I had never even rehearsed with. I remember many times greeting new colleagues onstage during a performance.
"Hi, I'm Becky/Fiordiligi, nice to meet you.Toi, Toi, Toi! "
I even started enjoying the adrenaline rushes from jumping in with 24 hours notice for another theater's production, with a four month old in tow and new recitative cuts to learn. Thank goodness for amazing assistant directors!
I worked and learned so much about myself as an artist for six seasons at the Hannover Staatsoper. During that time, I had some wonderful highs. Besides the full time singing, there was the birth of my amazing son and I felt supported by the theater. My singing-parent colleagues, especially the moms, were my inspiration. Financially, we were living only on my income, and I was able to take the time I needed without worrying about money. My general music director told me how supportive the theater was of families and even guessed I was pregnant before anyone else. Thank you Karen! I went back to work three months after Walt was born, but into minimal rehearsals and shows I already knew. My husband was an amazing caregiver at home. Let me tell you, even on little to no sleep, those mommy hormones are amazing. I felt pretty indestructible.
I'm glad I didn't wait to have Walt, given that I was 40 already. 11 months later my appendix burst during our "DerJunge Lord" rehearsal, set to premiere a few months later. It was very traumatic and it's a long story. Here is the short version. Due to complications from my burst appendix, I was a medical mystery for two days, as I didn't exhibit any signs of appendicitis, and it was a long recuperation period. I rallied to get back after two surgeries and very little time to heal. A push on myself that would eventually take it's toll physically and emotionally. I finally addressed my PTSD three years later with my EFT Tapping coach, Jenny. Now I feel like I can share more about it. Physically, my body was fighting itself. I developed food allergies and needed physical therapy to strengthen my abdominal area that had been cut into twice. I developed cysts from peritonitis and diastasis recti (the separation of the abdominal muscles) that had to be constantly monitored and I dreaded another surgery, which I wanted to avoid at all costs. With therapy and a more holistic approach to singing, thank you Neil Semer, I am now singing better than ever. Even with all my medical issues, I was covered financially. In total; with the birth of my son, two surgeries, and physical therapy.
I paid 170 Euros.... Yup....
Of course I paid about 310 Euros monthly for my family to be covered.
Uhu.......just the benefits of democratic socialism.
It helped me and my family.
Even with a long recovery, I pushed myself to sing some of my most challenging roles. I sang Konstanze with Opera San Jose and Madama Butterfly, just a month later back in Hannover. Another challenge that came up during my Fest experience was learning how to pace myself during a heavy rehearsal/performance period. I was lucky it didn't happen very often, but I remember especially one week where I had performances for two other shows and was rehearsing a premiere for a third show and the repertoire was really a stretch between multiple "Fachs", which I do regularly, but maybe not in the same week. Normally, you can rely on your colleagues that you might be cast with to lighten the load. This week was the perfect storm of that not being an option. I really thought by the time I got to Saturday, that I might break. I learned to advocate for myself that week and that it was ok to ask for what I needed, in the end it was the best outcome for everyone.
So after six wonderful and personally challenging seasons, we had a change in opera management and 90% of the solo singers were kicked to the curb. As they do..... during these change-overs. Again, I was supported financially by a special severance pay and unemployment, which I was able to pause when I did have some freelance work come in.
I am Freelance again. Freelance in your 40s, is a different animal. I have a lot of roles under my belt and can jump in for sick colleagues across Europe. I also have started an amazing consulting business, SoftlyLoud Artist Consulting, which gives me a new sense of purpose. I am discovering more about myself everyday, as a singer and as a mentor. I love talking to other singers. I love brainstorming their possibilities and hearing their journeys and how they have overcome amazing hurdles in their personal and professional lives. These fighters are the reason we have such great singers on the stage now. I try to give singers tools, which will help them along their path. I connect them with others, who can help focus their work. Myself and three collaborative coaches Rolando Garza Rodriguez, Maya Barsacq, and Cameron Burns, along with the amazing singers who put their trust in us, are creating a supportive community that spans across the world. I help singers develop a life-changing game plan so that they can achieve their dreams of rocking their talent on the stage.
A year ago.... I had not even begun to imagine the direction my life would go. I have a new "Job". One where I feel supported by my own clients, family, coaches, and people I look up to.
Singers are taking action in new ways. More administrators, more advocating for others, more becoming entrepreneurs, and all providing for their families the best way they can. It is a time that is hard. It is also a time for renaissance, if we see it for all the possibilities.
Founder and CEO of SoftlyLoud Artist Consulting and Soprano
****author's very long note****
For everyone who read (part one) last week and sent supportive messages and shared my blog, Thank you! To everyone who are opening themselves up in new and vulnerable ways, I will do my best to share and talk about all the amazing things you are doing. Keep it up, Divolas!
For those who see yourself in what I'm writing, that's why I'm doing it.
For those who don't, I understand, we are becoming more aware of the differences that can divide. In this way, I hope we will continue into the renaissance that awaits when we can bring ourselves closer again, not to mention physically. I know it's coming with those who are leading the way with heartfelt sympathy and empathy. This week, David Lomeli, so eloquently made a video acknowledging the artist, artist manager, and industry struggles. Thank you for your generosity in your message. All of us appreciate being seen.
I can only write from my own personal standpoint. Having to overcome only obstacles I put in my own way. So, from this viewpoint, I strive to be of service. In human design theory I am a projector. I am a natural at collecting what information is in front of me and repackaging it for the understanding of others. In other personality diagnosing forms, I am a mediator. That's why coach/consulting has come so natural to me. Only through self discovery, by quietly listening to the voice inside can I loudly proclaim my true purpose. I am SoftlyLoud!