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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Original Article:
Professional Development: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
By José Rincón, Artistic Services Manager ,
Original Content
The holidays are upon us and if you are wondering what to get the singer, composer, librettist, director or designer on your gift list, put down the Hickory Farms catalog and consider giving a gift that is not only thoughtful but useful, too. If you are an artist yourself, why not spend some of the cash you get from grandma on a membership or subscription to a service organization that will help you advance your career? Here are several member- or subscription-based organizations that offer an array of programs and resources for creative artists:

Related Article(s):
Arts Advocacy: Four Easy Steps
Haley Gordon, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Hundreds of arts advocates traveled to Washington, D.C. at the end of March to lobby Congress to support federal policies that would benefit the arts. As part of Arts Advocacy Day 2008, OPERA America members expressed their concerns in House and Senate offices about the President’s FY09 budget request, which proposes significant cuts to arts and cultural programs. They also described the multitude of issues that affect the opera field — from federal funding and visa processing for foreign guests artists to international cultural exchange and charitable giving incentives.
Governance and the Artistic Product
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Every opera production is a complex machine comprising many moving, delicate and unpredictable parts, so planning a successful opera season is a piece of almost impossibly sophisticated engineering. In addition to encyclopedic knowledge of operatic repertoire and creative and performing artists, season planning requires technical and financial savvy, intimate acquaintance with company strengths and weaknesses, and an understanding of what excites audience members — current and prospective.
Complementary and Alternate Therapies for Singers
Megan Young, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Voices1/1/1900
In this information age, it's downright difficult to dodge the constant deluge of advertisements telling us how we can live longer, lose weight, gain weight, lose wrinkles, gain energy, and find inner peace, all from calling a 1-800 number and swallowing a magic pill (at the low, low price of only $60 a bottle!). Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that will instantly transform you from a mercurial, vulnerable singer to a balanced, self-assured conqueror of the musical stage. But there are a multitude of complementary and alternative therapies that, when practiced with care and patience (along with regular check-ins with your primary care physician), can help you to achieve a better balance in your life, both professionally and personally. You are your instrument, after all, and taking care of your instrument should be your highest priority!
Making Early Opera Sing
James Bash ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
One of the major recent trends in opera has been the resurgence of operas written before the time of Mozart. The gems of Monteverdi, Gluck, Handel and others are being dusted, polished and displayed, dazzling opera fans across North America. A handful of companies — such as Toronto's Opera Atelier or Washington, D.C.'s Opera Lafayette — specialize in this repertoire.
Creating and Performing Educational Programs
Kathy Erlandson Soroka ,
Voices1/1/1900
As young singers await their big career opportunities, they may lose sight of the opportunities they have now to practice their craft and share generously with audiences. Young singers often forget the most important part of being an artist — connecting their humanity to the music and to their audiences.
NEA Opera Honors: Recognizing American Opera's Brightest Lights
Barrymore Laurence Scherer ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
With the exceptions of chant and unaccompanied solo song, opera is probably classical music's oldest continuous genre. Invented just before 1600, it predates the symphony and string quartet, as well as the multi-movement concerto, all of them 18th-century developments. Therefore, it is no small matter that America, which as a nation came relatively late to opera, has produced an enormous wealth of operatic talent. OPERA America counts 114 professional companies in 43 states in its membership. Over half of these companies were established after 1970, and one quarter of the total were established since 1980.
OPERA America's Action-Oriented Think Tanks
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
OPERA America's Conference is the largest and most visible annual gathering of the opera community — but it is not the only time opera stakeholders come together. Throughout the year, OPERA America convenes meetings of industry leaders around specific topics. Although the discussions vary in size, scope and regularity, they share a common commitment — a commitment to action. Participants not only discuss challenges, they identify steps they can take, from the incremental to the profound, to advance the field.
Mezzo-Soprano
Handel, George Frideric: Alcina
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Disgombra il mio pensiero … Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” (Ruggiero)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago ,
Aria Talk10/1/2005
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Disgombra il mio pensiero … Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” (Ruggiero)
What I Did This Summer (What Did I Do This Summer?): Your Guide to Staying Productive During the Summer
Anne Choe, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
ArtistLink7/10/2007
It is the middle of July. If many of you are like me, that statement strikes a bit of despair and wonderment in your hearts and minds. "The summer is half over! What happened to all my grand plans for the summer?" I had some pretty lofty goals for myself including losing 10 pounds (always at the top of my list), boning up on my knowledge of operatic repertoire, advancing my Italian and French skills, and breaking 90 in my golf game. Unfortunately, my better judgment fails me and I opt for fried goodness rather than salad, Knocked Up rather than Fidelio, and going for the green rather than laying-up. But it's not too late! I can still achieve the things that I'd like to by setting realistic goals, creating an advanced plan, and defining the steps needed to achieve the goals I've set for myself.
Staying Competitive
Staff ,
ArtistLink4/20/2009
Freelance artists may be more familiar with the process of job hunting than any other group of professionals. As thousands of Americans in the auto and financial industries struggle to cope with the sudden disappearance of jobs once thought of as sacrosanct, uncertain employment has been a reality for artists since, well, forever. That said, artists are far from immune to the recession as opera companies and other nonprofit arts organizations across the country are being forced to make tough decisions in an effort to balance budgets and stay operational. In this climate, it is more important than ever for artists to take a proactive approach to career development in order to be as prepared as possible for uncontrollable circumstances. Here are some ways to remain competitive through these tough times:
Learning to Work Together: Opera Companies and Academic Institutions
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
In some cities, collaboration means local opera patrons experience a greater range of repertoire than they might otherwise. Opera Company of Philadelphia has developed a partnership with The Curtis Institute of Music to co-present one production each season, beginning with Golijov's Ainadamar in 2008. "We have always had a very strong relationship with Curtis," says David B. Devan, executive director of Opera Company of Philadelphia. "We learned there were certain pieces they wanted to produce for their singers, but the school didn't have the resources. It dawned on me that conservatories don't have a lot of marketing horsepower, but we were in a position to provide them with a substantially larger audience. We came up with an arrangement whereby Curtis would produce the show and we would market it as part of our season and then hand over the revenue, allowing them to pay their bills."
A Legacy of Leadership
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
Each year, OPERA America honors leaders celebrating their 10- and 25-year anniversaries with an opera company. The recipients of this year's service awards hail from companies from across North America whose annual budgets range in size from less than $1 million to more than $25 million. Some of the companies dominate the opera scene in their cities, while others are part of a vibrant local opera ecology.

Running an opera company is challenging in the best of times, and today's uncertain economy makes it extraordinarily difficult to plan the seasons ahead. But with hard-won wisdom gained from many years of experience, these artistic and general directors strike a tone of cautious optimism as they share their learning and confirm their commitment to quality and creativity.
Creative Programming in Hard Times
Thomas May ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
The majority of contemporary American opera companies sprang up after the Great Depression — which means they're now confronting the most severe economic downturn in their existence. And the performing arts are doubly vulnerable. Not only is institutional funding at risk: audiences, their very lifeblood, have also had to become more cautious about opening their wallets.
A Nationwide Celebration of Opera
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
The National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors, launched in 2008, honors visionary creators, extraordinary performers and other interpreters who have made extraordinary contributions to opera in the United States and have become cultural treasures of the nation. The 2009 recipients are John Adams, Frank Corsaro, Marilyn Horne, Lotfi Mansouri and Julius Rudel. They will he honored at an awards ceremony on November 14, 2009, in Washington, D.C.
A Learning Laboratory for Opera
Adam Gustafson ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
A lot is happening as OPERA America heads into its 40th year, including a virtual facelift. A new Web site design puts OPERA America’s wealth of existing resources, along with some new additions, at the fingertips of its members in a format that is easy to navigate.
Learning from the Masters
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
Four artists and a producer walk into a room… no, it's not the latest reality show. OPERA America's Making Connections is an artist development program that brings established artists together with emerging professionals to discuss the wide range of skills and experience required for successful careers in opera. In the three years since its inception, Making Connections has hosted an array of composers, librettists, singers, producers, designers and directors.
Music! Words! Opera! Celebrates 20 Years
Clifford Brooks, Roger Ames ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
It all began about 1980, when Marthalie Furber, newly-appointed education director of OPERA America, conducted an environmental scan to discern what was going on in opera education throughout the country. Many of us already involved in company education departments knew of "create an opera" projects in different opera companies. Exciting things were happening in such locales as the Berkshires, San Diego, Tulsa and Tucson. Carroll Reinhart, a pioneer in the field of music education, had observed the work of a colleague in San Diego and began building from a number of creative processes to develop a methodology for children to create their own pieces of musical theater. He shared this with several opera professionals, including Henry Holt. Not long afterward, he was contacted by Marthalie Furber. The discussions began in earnest.
National Opera Open House: Don’t Miss This Opportunity!
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
Historic property. Large central space retains many original details. Great for entertaining. Adequate storage. Bathrooms need some updating.

The open house is an important event for those on both sides of a real estate transaction. The purchaser arrives at each property wondering, "Could I be happy here?" The seller does everything possible to make sure the answer is a resounding "Yes" — from greeting visitors with a welcoming smile to filling the place with appealing art.
For the Love of the Game: Considering a Career in Opera Administration
José Rincón, Artistic Services Coordinator, OPERA America ,
Original Content9/30/2009
Most opera administrators working today probably did not enter college with the goal of working for a nonprofit arts organization someday. I know this was the case for me when I began studying voice as an undergraduate. In fact, I was unaware of arts administration as a field until, as a college senior, I was offered a chance to design some marketing materials for a production of Orpheus in the Underworld. By that point, I knew I lacked the same hunger for a performing career as some of my music school colleagues, but I'd retained my passion for opera as an art form and wanted to devote my energy to instilling the same passion in others.
Check-Up: Health-Care Reform Proposals and the Opera Field
Staff Amy Fitterer, Patricia Read, Derek Davis, David Bennett
Original Content10/13/2009
OPERA America Webinar Series
Virtual Meeting Attendance: Not Present, But Still Here
BoardSource ,
Original Content10/13/2009

In an ideal board meeting, all members are present and engaged in a structured and vigorous debate of the issues on the agenda. The chair leads the discussion, fine-tuned to the overall mood of the board, and ensures everyone's participation. During planned breaks, chatter fills the boardroom, and when the meeting is over, some members hurry out with their carry-ons in tow while others linger to talk to the chief executive and their board colleagues.

In reality, few board meetings are that perfect. For example, at times, even the most committed members are not able to attend every meeting. This is unfortunate because not only do they miss the meeting but the rest of the board misses their contribution.
Recent Trends in Program Coverage, Artistic Expenses and Individual Giving
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/29/2009
Over the past 10 years, professional opera company budgets in the U.S. grew annually, on average, at a rate that was about two to two-and-a-half times the U.S. consumer price index (CPI). During consultations with board members and general directors, OPERA America President and CEO Marc A. Scorca referred to this percentage as the Opera Price Index (OPI). Core artistic expenses (the sum of artistic personnel, technical/production personnel and production costs) are an important element of this "opera-flation."
The Role of the Voice Teacher in the Young Artist Program
Dr. Rebecca L. Folsom ,
Original Content11/3/2009
For singers pursuing operatic careers, young artist programs are essential to career development. The programs vary in level and length, and play a vital role in fostering a singer's talent and potential. Professional voice teachers are an integral part of the faculty/staff/training team in the young artist programs.

The voice teacher commonly addresses such issues as breath control, registration, laryngeal function, resonance adjustment and acoustical exactness, articulation of vowels, all of which promote free, efficient vocal production. Professionals also ensure that singers have proper physiological coordination within the mechanisms that produce vocal sound. As a budding mezzo-soprano commented: “What makes voice teachers a distinct and essential part of a young artist program is their vested interest in our longevity as singers, and they generally have skills to teach ways in which we can extend our vocal life by means of warm-ups and technical adjustments." The preferred role of a voice teacher is not to change an established singer's technique, particularly in a short period of time. According to one young tenor, “the primary role of a young artist program voice teacher is to combine the skills of critical listening, technical knowledge of the voice and instructive abilities to help maintain a healthy singing voice." To achieve healthy singing, teachers must decide whether to delve into technical considerations or work in a flexible manner with the singer's established method of tonal production.
Board Members and Personal Contributions
BoardSource ,
Original Content11/5/2009
Many boards spend considerable time defining the board's role in securing adequate resources for the organization. Personal financial contribution should be an essential part of that discussion. Each board should determine its own personal giving policy. For fundraising boards, the target should be to reach 100 percent board member participation.

Why should board members give?
Board members of most charitable organizations are expected to participate in fundraising. The board is responsible for providing a sound financial basis for the organization and by personally contributing, a board member recognizes this responsibility and demonstrates a commitment. A fundraising appeal is particularly convincing if a board member uses him or herself as an exemplary donor. Many foundations only contribute to organizations where every board member is a contributor. And surveys show that nearly 90 percent of American households contribute to charities. Each board member should designate his or her own organization as one of the main recipients of his or her generosity.
Brundibar at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: Creativity and Efficiency in Tandem
Wendall K. Harrington ,
Original Content12/3/2009
About three years ago, Steve Ryan, director of production for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis called me and asked if I would be interested in working on a new production of Brundibar for their education department. The previous production had a lot of scenery he said, and he was looking to make something that would be more portable.

I was immediately interested. For decades I have been trying to encourage the use of projections for educational theatrical use: Once created, productions can be easily remounted and require virtually no storage. When I looked at a tape of the previous production I understood the real issue with Brundibar for education was twofold. On one hand, opera companies are looking to introduce young people to the beauty of opera with the hope of instilling at least curiosity about the art form, and at the same time they are using Brundibar to teach the history of the Holocaust. Brundibar is a musical fable most famous for being played and sung by the Jewish children interned in the Terezin concentration camp. The subject matter — two children in need of money to buy milk for their sick mother, who triumph over the organ grinder Brundibar — does not neatly illuminate the struggle in the camps, but the idea of any kind of triumph must have been mighty appealing for the inmates, who also were allowed to remove their yellow stars in performance.
Good Habits Underpin Great Fundraising Boards
Jerold Panas ,
Original Content1/6/2010
In this interview, Jerold Panas discusses the traits of successful fundraising boards.

What led you to the topic of fundraising habits?

I work with organizations all over the country, of all sizes, of all types. From YMCAs to colleges to hospitals — and many in between. The budgets range from $1 million a year to $2.6 billion.

And what I've noticed is a common thread woven through each. When an organization is vital, providing outstanding service, and balancing its budget — I find a board that practices very specific habits. Particularly fundraising habits.

How many boards would you say you've worked with?

Keep in mind, I've been at this a long time! I suppose in my 40 years of consulting, I've actively worked with somewhere between 300 to 400 boards.

And roughly how many have had a majority of the habits you write about?

Most boards practice a good number of them. Only a few can claim them all. One thing if for sure — it's easy to spot boards that don't have these habits. They stumble along.
Art and Fame: A Perspective of an Artist as a Young Man
Robert Hansen, executive director, National Opera Association ,
Original Content2/4/2010
When I was something less than two years old, certainly too young to have any real memory of it, I was photographed sitting in the middle of the dining room table wearing nothing but an over-sized and very glamorous hat. I don’t think the photo was posed: I’m sure I donned that hat myself, and from the expression on my face, I’m equally sure I expected to be noticed.

That must have been the earliest expression of my fantasy of fame and celebrity. I began my stage career at the age of five as the little prince in The King and I who crawls between the king’s legs. I relished that moment: the most special of all those child actors who comprised the royal family. Without belaboring the point, I continued performing all through my school years. I was sought after. I sang and performed everywhere and all the time, turning up as a regular in community and school projects, and even one professional program. One kind reviewer called me “everybody’s tenor” and a local philanthropist and arts supporter praised my “multi-faceted talents.” These are words of praise and encouragement that resonate in the formative years. I took the affirmation as a promise of future success. I watched the Academy Awards and Tony shows religiously, fantasizing about the day I would cross the stage to claim my own recognition.
Planned Giving Strategies
Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer , Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer
Original Content2/16/2010
A common concern among donors is how assets will be distributed when they can no longer oversee the process. As a donor, how can you best invest money to reap the benefits during your life, but still ensure a lasting and positive impact? As a development director, how do you broach this delicate subject well-informed and effectively? This session, featuring Thomas Bonhag, a Certified Financial Planner from National Madison Group and a member of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, will help guide you through the complex financial instruments available, and look at investing via life insurance policies. Robert Heuer, general director of Florida Grand Opera, will also participate.
Nonprofits and Copyrights: What You Need to Know
Kate Spelman, attorney, Cobalt LLP ,
Original Content2/23/2010
There are two things to worry about with copyrights: protecting original material that your organization has created, and making sure that your organization isn't improperly using material that someone else owns. Blue Avocado asked copyright attorney Kate Spelman to help with these issues, and she generously gave all her expertise and time.

Kate Spelman is an attorney at Cobalt LLP in Berkeley, CA, with a national and international practice in copyright law. She has worked for Fortune 500 companies, as well as many nonprofits. She is a board member of the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation.
High School Singer Open House
Dona D. Vaughn, Manhattan School of Music and PORTopera, Sarah Heltzel, mezzo-soprano; Mark Oswald, baritone/teacher, Metropolitan Opera and Manhattan School of Music; Nathan Urbach, administrative director, Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Metropolitan Opera
Making Connections2/24/2010
In this special session geared for the college-bound, high school singers will hear from professionals working in the opera field about career options and making the most of one's education. Parents are encouraged to attend this session to learn about supporting young artists through their careers.
Ten Ways to Get Your Students to Use the OPERA America Web Site and Love it
Laura Lee Everett, University of Maryland Opera Studio ,
Original Content3/3/2010
In working with both the Technical/Production and Singer Training Forums, I was lucky enough to be taken on a “virtual tour” of the newly updated OPERA America Web site. Twice. The second time around, I was able to take note of the moments where my colleagues’ attention seemed to wander and asked, “What do I need to point up to get everyone engaged when I take this information back to school?” Here are 10 easy ways to get your students, staff and faculty to utilize the great resources on the OPERA America Web site.
Taxing Foreign Artists
Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America , Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America
Original Content3/17/2010
Visiting artists bring a sometimes unique perspective to your stage, and equally unique issues to your tax returns. Pretty much anyone who performs in the US gets taxed, but the simplicity ends there. What compensation is subject to withholding? Can artists without a Social Security Number be paid? Answers to those questions, and any others you may have particular to your situation, in this discussion with FTM Arts Law attorney and tax-withholding expert Robyn Guilliams, co-author of Artists From Abroad.
Fundraising for Independent Artists
Beryl B. Byles, executive coach, Dianne Debicella, program director, fiscal sponsorship, Fractured Atlas; Eve Gigliotti, mezzo-soprano; Anne Ricci, general managing diva, Opera on Tap
Making Connections3/24/2010
Many, if not most, independent artists will have to raise funds during their careers - to produce a piece, attend a training program or simply to continue study. Panelists at this session will discuss their experiences, tips and strategies for cultivating donor relationships and raising funds.
Teen Audiences and Education Programs
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/6/2010
The most recent Opera Education Survey Report (2008) reported that opera companies are devoting less time and resources to teen audiences. This survey found that grades 6-8 represented 5% of education audiences, while grades 9-12 comprised 8%. In 2006, the survey found the same audiences were 12% and 9%, respectively. There is consensus in the field that it is a challenge to reach teen audiences for many reasons. "In general," says Fort Worth Opera Education Director Clyde Berry, "teens are the trickiest audience because you have to justify why anything you want them to know is important. If you can't make it relevant to them with real-world connections, then they're not going to 'buy' it."
Tenets to Raise Money By
Certain factors are irrefutable, says philanthropy's grandmaster

Jerold Panas ,
Original Content4/8/2010
For my book, Mega Gifts: Who Gives Them, Who Gets Them, I spoke with more than 50 men and women who had made gifts of $1 million or more. I also collected data from more than a thousand fundraising professionals.

As for me, I bring over 40 years to this magnificent business of helping others undertake consequential acts of kindness and generosity.

What I’ve discovered is that there are clearly factors and forces that motivate large gifts. The proof is irrefutable. There is more commonality in the factors than there are differences. And as extraordinarily unique as people are, the drive and consideration that propels them to a major gift is very much the same.

During the preparation of Mega Gifts I combined all I’d learned from my donors and all I could read on the subject. I mixed this generously and openly with my own feelings and attitudes.

What have evolved are 62 factors that I’m convinced guide, shape and determine the success of securing the mega gifts. Here I’ll share a random seven with you.
What Makes a Great Board?
Expert shares his insights

Andy Robinson ,
Original Content4/8/2010
Andy Robinson is the author of Great Boards for Small Groups and its companion book, Big Gifts for Small Groups. We recently sat down with Robinson to discuss various aspects of nonprofit boards.

What makes a great board, in your opinion?

Robinson: Just what you’d expect; a list of qualifications that’s easy to understand but can be hard to find. Passion for the mission, clear expectations and clearly defined roles, a sense of camaraderie and enough time to do the job right. It also helps to have a bit of flexibility, humor and humility.

So why aren’t there more great boards?

Robinson: The word “great” implies ambition, so the goal is inherently difficult. Faced with the challenge if building a strong board, most organizations move in the wrong directions: they fear that the truth will scare away prospective candidates, so they “low-ball” their expectations. Unfortunately, if people can’t meet your board requirements, you’d rather find out before you invite them — and not after they’ve joined the board.
Visa Processing for Foreign Guest Artists
Amy Fitterer, OPERA America, Jonathan Ginsburg and Andi Floyd, FTM Arts Law
Original Content4/21/2010
The opera industry has recently seen delays and problems in visa processing by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), underscoring the risk that foreign guest artists will be unable to enter the country in time for their rehearsals and performances. Join us to hear from attorney Jonathan Ginsburg as he shares timely advice and best practices for assembling petitions that will increase your chances of petition approval. Ginsburg is considered one of the top immigration attorneys in the U.S. for foreign guest artists. He co-authored the Artist From Abroad Web site, and has conducted numerous presentations and training sessions across the country on visa processing.
Building and Managing Your Network
Charles Jarden, executive director, American Opera Projects; Laura Brooks Rice, Westminster Choir College and CoOPERAtive Program; Leah Wool, mezzo-soprano ,
Making Connections5/26/2010
To be successful, opera artists must accumulate a staggering amount of knowledge and skills. Those who attempt to meet so many demands alone, particularly given the transient lifestyle of an opera career, will quickly find themselves overwhelmed. This session will cover the need for advisors, identifying appropriate team players, communicating your goals to your supporters and managing this dynamic group through your own personal and professional growth.
Professional Development: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
By José Rincón, Artistic Services Manager ,
Original Content12/1/2010
The holidays are upon us and if you are wondering what to get the singer, composer, librettist, director or designer on your gift list, put down the Hickory Farms catalog and consider giving a gift that is not only thoughtful but useful, too. If you are an artist yourself, why not spend some of the cash you get from grandma on a membership or subscription to a service organization that will help you advance your career? Here are several member- or subscription-based organizations that offer an array of programs and resources for creative artists:
Keys to a Successful Singer/Conductor Relationship
Neal Goren, Gotham Chamber Opera; Erie Mills, soprano; Steven Osgood, conductor ,
Making Connections1/26/2011
An established conductor can be a major ally in the advancement of a singer’s career, but the success of this relationship relies on trust, respect and a lot of preparation. Learn how to make the singer/conductor relationship a mutually beneficial one from this session’s panel of distinguished artists.
Ten Ways to Use the OPERA America Website Today
Jose Rincon, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Original Content2/1/2011
OPERA America members have a wide range of services at their fingertips via the OPERA America website. Our web-based resources are designed to help both artists and administrators learn about opera as an art form and as an industry.
The Art of Entrepreneurship and Education
by Laura Day Giarolo, Manager of Education & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/4/2011
Next month, leaders from across the opera industry will gather for the annual opera conference in Boston — Opera Entrepreneurship: Building on Tradition — which will feature many opportunities to reexamine the way in which we approach our work.

The word entrepreneur is nothing to shy away from: though it's often included alongside business jargon like ROI and time-value of money, it can just as easily be aligned with arts education buzzwords like creativity and innovation. Successful entrepreneurs are able to identify a wish, want or desire held by a certain population and find a unique and creative way to make that wish come true.
The Nuts, Bolts and Secrets of Covering
Katherine Drago, mezzo-soprano ,
Making Connections4/20/2011
Working for an opera company as a cover is a great way to begin building a reputation in the industry as a talented artist and dependable colleague. This interactive seminar will teach you the essential dos and don’ts of covering, as well as techniques for notating and reviewing blocking, how to conduct yourself during rehearsals and more.
Reading to Write: A Book List for Composers
Staff ,
Original Content6/1/2011
Composers are rarely limited by the domain of music; they are inspired by all of their senses. Writing a piece is an extension of your experiences and reflects the language you speak musically and otherwise. At OPERA America, we love using books as a tool for inspiration. We discussed literature and reference texts with industry experts and compiled a reading list for opera composers with topics in technical skills, biographies, history, business, publishing, vocal reference and a few from other art fields. As you explore these resources, take your investigation beyond the page. Interact with singers, work backstage, listen and analyze scores to form an intimate relationship with opera writing.
Collegiate Collaboration
Brooke Feldman, Artistic Services Intern, OPERA America ,
Original Content7/11/2011
As a stage management student at Syracuse University, one of the first things I learned was that performing arts production is a collaborative process. Every class that I took, from basic rehearsal techniques to budgeting, steered back to the concept of collaboration. I was fortunate enough to stage manage productions across a spectrum of genres during my time at school, but it was through my work with Syracuse’s opera workshop that I learned the true meaning of collaboration.
Tips for Assembling Your Opera Fund Application
Lyndsay Werking, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Original Content8/4/2011
As the summer comes to an end, we at OPERA America are excited to be launching the next round of grant opportunities through The Opera Fund. This year, awards will be given in the Audience Development category for projects that focus on community engagement activities undertaken in conjunction with the creation and/or production of a new or existing American work. The deadline to submit a letter of intent is August 26. The competition for limited funds is highly competitive. In looking through past grant proposals, we have created some general guidelines to help you as you prepare your application.
DIY Professional Development
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content8/4/2011

Conferences and informal conversations alike provide opportunities for professionals to learn from and share with one another, building on the strength of their shared experiences. OPERA America provides several opportunities for mentors, mentees and peer groups to reconnect through in-person Forums, online chats and listserv conversations, and other arts organizations and arts service organizations offer similar services. Weekly or monthly e-newsletters (like OperaLink) have been known to spark conversations around the water cooler, but many of the more recent transformations in do-it-yourself professional development (DIYPD) have come through the blogosphere and through social and professional networking sites.

Singers: How to Research Producing Opera Companies
Megan Young ,
Original Content10/11/2011
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of opera producers in North America. So, how do you know which are appropriate for you at your current level of career achievement? Do you send out 100 headshots and resumes and hope for the best? We think not! Do your research ahead of time to find the opportunities that are appropriate for you. You'll cut down on the volume of materials you send out and you'll be less likely to be put on the "do not hear" list. To start your research, use OPERA America’s Career Guide for Opera. Read on for a comprehensive list of qualities to examine before you choose to audition…
Blogroll for Opera Artists
Lyndsay Werking, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/17/2011
To succeed in opera, or in any field, an individual must possess both skills and knowledge of the industry.  Understanding the current climate of the opera industry is just as important as learning new marketing strategies or exploring fundraising opportunities. To keep informed of news, trends, projects and people, I read a variety of print and online news sources. Additionally, I follow a number of blogs. While I can learn about the facts of the industry from formal news outlets, a blog provides a specific point of view and often, a unique writing style and artistic voice. Sign in for a list of blogs that OPERA America staff is reading…
OPERA America’s Career Guide for Opera - Something for Everyone!
José Rincón ,
Original Content11/1/2011
If you think OPERA America’s Career Guide for Opera is just for singers, think again! The Career Guide for Opera is full of articles, videos and podcasts for opera artists of all types; access to this comprehensive resources starts at just $30 a year. Click through to learn about a few of the many resources you will find.
Stress Management for Opera Artists
Robin Rigby, stress management consultant ,
Making Connections12/15/2011
Stress is often unavoidable, especially in the competitive and grueling world of opera. Fortunately, there are proven methods of reducing and managing stress and the factors that cause it. At this session you will learn how to effectively deal with stress so that you can stay healthy, productive and achieve your goals as an artist.
How to Talk About Finances So Non-Financial Folks Will Listen
Bridgestar Staff ,
Original Content12/22/2011
Nonprofit staff members almost universally understand the importance of achieving the mission of the organization and are trained in delivering direct services such as feeding the hungry, educating low-income children, or advocating for a more sustainable environment. However, many of these individuals, while highly skilled in a particular program area, do not have a lot of training and experience in working with financial data. Understandably, when prioritizing their work, nonprofit line managers will often choose to spend their time feeding the hungry over examining numbers on a departmental budget spreadsheet.
Opera Advocacy: Not Just About Appropriation
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, Dance/USA and OPERA America ,
Original Content1/24/2012
By now, most in the performing arts community have learned that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received yet another cut for FY12. With the final funding amount at $145.979 million, the NEA has almost $9 million less this year on top of the $12 million cut in FY11.

These cuts were already reflected in the first round of Art Works grant allocations (in both the number and size of grants) and also in the change in FY13 guidelines with the elimination of consortium grants.

While funding for the NEA has been a flagship issue for the arts community and advocates, it’s important to know that this is not the only issue that the performing arts face in 2012. OPERA America represents the opera community in a wide array of issues — some that may be very familiar, and others that may be completely new.
The Blind Leap of Leadership
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning and Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/24/2012
"I need you to jump off a cliff."
— President Josiah Bartlett, "The West Wing," Season 6, episode 3 ("Third Day Story")

It's not exactly the warmest, most enthusiastic job offer ever; yet, in many ways, assuming a position of leadership requires a leap of faith. Whether an individual is a new CEO or it is his or her first time supervising staff, being an effective leader requires a delicate blend of personal know-how and interpersonal skills.
Evaluation and Assessment: Beyond Anecdotal Evidence
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content3/5/2012
Once a month, OPERA America staff members gather to discuss reports and publications that we’ve recently read. At our most recent Journal Club, one colleague reported on The Arts and Human Development: Framing a National Research Agenda for the Arts, Lifelong Learning, and Individual Well-Being, released fall 2011 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While the report’s purpose was to outline areas of arts participation ripe for future research, one of the studies cited, The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults, found that older adults who participated in arts activities "reported higher overall physical health, fewer doctor visits, less medication use, fewer instances of falls and fewer health problems when compared to the comparison group. The intervention group also evidenced better morale and less loneliness than the comparison group. Similarly, [those participating in arts activities]… reported a trend toward increased activity." To which OPERA America staff members said, "Well, duh!"
Totally Non-Non-Non-Partisan Dude!
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/4/2012
Believe me — I completely understand. I, too, have friends on Facebook who continue to post political memes. These posts beget even more ridiculous comments from their friends, ones that make online super contributors sound intelligent. The comments can rile you so much that you believe yourself to be the only person capable of setting these individuals straight.

But before you add your obviously rational voice to the discussion and inform your friends-of-friends of their comment's inaccuracies, PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU'RE NOT POSTING TO YOUR OPERA COMPANY'S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT.

During an election year, emotions run high; candidates from both parties, eager to increase their media exposure, tend to make extreme statements. This makes it even easier to get caught up on the fracas.
Measuring Brand Personality: Why Customer Service, Social Marketing and Brandmaking are Becoming the Same Thing
Patricia Martin, Culture Scout Blog ,
Original Content4/17/2012
Everything communicates. Everything. What our brands do, say, show, process or sell. My colleague, Nancy Goldstein, is a brand strategist who is especially passionate about this. And she's right.

Lately, I've been studying the best behaviors of social brands. That's why this infographic caught my eye. It reveals interesting insights into customer service and social commerce.
Singer Training and Repertoire Assignment
Brittney Redler ,
Original Content5/14/2012
In medical school, students take classes for the first two years then do rotations, during which they get to experience different specializations. This introduction to a wide variety of medical divisions is what helps students clarify where their individual talents lie. A young medical student would rarely choose their specialty in those first years to then remain in that field for his or her entire career. This is because they may have certain preferences and or talents that they simply haven't explored yet in their youth. Medicine is a huge field, so one has to explore and "date around" so to speak in order to discover the best match.

Music is similarly an overwhelmingly large subject. Even after choosing vocal performance as a major -- or even more specifically "classical" or "musical theater," a young student is facing an extremely broad range of possibilities. While training, it should be expected — just as it is for medical students — that singers explore a wide variety of music in order to develop a correspondingly varied repertoire and skill set. Learning an abundance of repertoire can introduce and develop technical skills involved in vocal production, but also certainly can build general musicianship, language and diction proficiency, and dramatic preparation and insight. The student therefore becomes familiar with many genres, styles, time periods and composers, which can only make a student a more informed performer. Perhaps a previously unknown niche in this new repertoire assortment is waiting to be discovered.
An Excellence Manifesto for the Digital Age
Douglas McLennan, ArtsJournal ,
Original Content6/22/2012
  1. Excellence is Meaningless

Excellence doesn’t stand out when everything is excellent. In a world where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average,” being good looking, strong and above average won’t get you noticed. We perceive excellence when it stands out from the things around it. When everything is excellent then excellence is average. It’s in our nature to want more, to want different. Most declarations of excellence aren’t about excellence at all; they’re about positioning. In the digital age, when ideas and bits and bytes are cheap and endlessly reproducible, excellence is a mutable concept.
A Composer's Cohort: Secrets of Collaboration
Miriam Piilonen ,
Original Content10/10/2013
Writing an opera is an undertaking unlike any other in a composer's repertoire. The time commitment, depth of knowledge and scope of such an ambitious project make writing an enormous challenge in and of itself. What many aspiring opera composers overlook is the test waiting beyond the solitude of the studio: collaborating with other artists involved in the production of a staged vocal work. OPERA America has gathered leading experts in the fields of composing, directing, publishing and administration to advise composers in working with everyone from singers to stage managers from the initial idea to final curtain call. Whether you are staging a small student performance with one singer and a tambourine or mounting an opening at the Metropolitan Opera, collaboration can make or break your show

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One


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The building is on the same block as the train stop.

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