Brandon Keith Biggs
brandonboy13 at comcast.net
Wed Jan 11 23:37:21 PST 2012
What I mean by professional is getting paid at like a house like San Jose
Opera or San Francisco Opera. Colleges don't pay and they don't give the
prestige of performing in the community. Education is meant to get your
first bread and butter roles down pat so you can go around to the semi
professional houses and sing as a lead. Once you have around 20 or so roles
under your belt then you can begin auditioning for the bigger houses. My
mentor who is not blind performed leads in all her master program
productions, got out and toured for 5 years and is now performing for
stipends with the big symphonies around as well as leads in the houses that
pay stipends to their leads. San Jose Opera is the size of house that said
no way without seeing the conductor. They pay stipends to everyone, even the
chorus. SJO is a step below Seattle or Chicago Opera and those company's
are below SFO, the Met and Covent Garden.
In the hierarchy of houses in the Opera world, a master performance ranks at
around a community theater, in less it is from Curtis or Eastman in which
case it would be about SJO level.
This is America and Americans have it easy because they aren’t competing
with native speakers on their home turf. The Opera world is changing, but as
it stands if you want to make a career in Opera you need to either compete
around the world or work your way up from the bottom. Despite what people
might say in school, you still have to start with community theater out of
college. In my last production we had a graduate from Chapman and a graduate
from another Bay area school as our 2 leads and they were both unpaid Opera
majors. All the leads except I think 1 attended Opera schools for their BA
and are now working another job.
Most sighted people I've talked to who include other singers and teachers
laugh when I say I can't follow the conductor. I spend my time making sure
all my music is perfect down to the last 16th note so when I perform
concerts and auditions I'm spot on and the directors don't think about me
and the conductor before they cast me.
The other thing I do is get chorus roles in the houses I want leads in and
perform in enough shows that I start to get small roles and move up the
scale that way.
But honestly the chorus gets yelled at half the night for not following the
conductor and parts of it are that the women are too short to see the baton
from behind the men, so a wand that blind people could use potentially has a
market for a larger market and not just the blind.
Brandon Keith Biggs
From: Julie McGinnity
Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 10:55 PM
To: This is for discussing music and braille literacy
Subject: Re: [Menvi-discuss] Sight-reading
Brandon, have you heard of Jessica Bachicha? I think I spelled her
She performed in a lead role in the Magic Flute as graduate student.
I consider this professional. She is totally blind, and she is very
impressive--reads braille music, has a cd out... Everything.
She was one of my mentors last year when I received an NFB
scholarship. In what limited gime we had to chat, I learned a lot
from her. There is a braille monitor article about her in the spring
issue(I believe it is) about her and her work as an opera singer. I
can find it for you if you'd like.
Oh... no. And our opera scenes begin working with the small
orchestra on Sunday. Now I'm nervous!
On 1/11/12, Kelsey Nicolay <piano.girl0299 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I agree. Although I do read braille music, I still have to
> anticipate the music to "! degree. I participated in my opera
> scenes as well two years ago. I was given very limited roles and
> did not have any solo parts because I am extremely shy. As for
> professional, I really don't know much about performing
> professionally so it's difficult to say exactly whether they will
> jive you a chance. But I would guess that if they were required
> to give accommodations, they would most likely at least let you
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Lindbergh High School class of 2009, participating member in Opera
Theater's Artist in Training Program, and proud graduate of Guiding
Eyes for the Blind
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that
everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal
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