Opera/Musical theatre graduate student

Rejected from all Cal States, so maybe it’s time to forget about music. My undergrad is in theatre, but I really don’t want to do another acting program.

Theater and musical theater do not require a graduate degree…nor a bachelor’s degree. I know successful people who skipped college all together. They just started performing. Note that these two areas tend to like “young” people. So if you are 20, it’s not a problem. MT in particular leans young.

Opera (particularly high opera) leans “older”. An MM is expected. Many people take a few years off to work in between undergrad and grad to get older. It really does benefit some voices. If you went from Theater to Opera auditions…you simply may need more time with a teacher to be competitive.

If you don’t have a good private teacher, that is who you need, to decide how you move forward. You are NOT the only one to get no offer for grad school or an offer with no money. Many people have to zig and zag through this process. I hope that your teacher can advise you.

And I’m a big believer that getting out in the real world and doing some performing is just as important (if not more) in developing talent than staying in schools or programs (follow the money). Right now that is tough…but there are many theaters and companies doing online activities…and networking is very important. So there are no “everything is closed” excuses. Go online and start networking. Continue private voice instructions…and see where life takes you.

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I am not knowledgeable on these areas so for my own education, is the voice type and training involved in opera quite different from musical theater? Would it help to decide which direction you want at the grad level? Also the MT people I know are triple threats: dance, acting and singing. Do you dance?

Do you have a private teacher, and what area of performance has that teacher been involved in?

Did you do any musical theater as an undergrad?

Why don’t you want to do theater after 4 years of study?

Sorry for all the questions!

Of course I defer to Bridgenail’s advice above on getting out there to perform, since Bridgenail does know a lot about this area.

I was just curious about how one would approach grad applications for a student like you.

I have a good private teacher. Getting a show seems to be basically impossible, so that’s not something to focus on. I would like to be in a full time program where I specifically focus on music and perform, so a grad degree is the best option. I’m 25.

What do you want to be doing in ten years? What do you realistically think that you will be doing in ten years?

I will admit that I have only met one former Broadway singer/dancer, but the conversation was specifically around this issue. She had been working as a singer and dancer on Broadway. She found that the pay was low, living in New York is expensive, and you get tired of singing the same thing every night. She went back to university, got a PhD, and became a professor. This was a good outcome for her.

You need to figure out what is the desired and realistic outcome for you.

Networking can help in getting acceptances to grad programs.

Classical voice is a small world. For grad schools (IMO - wrong or right), your resume will matter. Where did you study? With whom did you study? What roles did you perform? What summer programs? And of course they will look at your transcript and check your talent level along with their needs. My D knows a handful of friends who only got one acceptance…and often it was because they knew someone on the faculty (or their teacher knew someone on the faculty). If you come out of one of the big names with a well-known teacher and a nice resume…of course you can get more offers. But some of these friends were from more mid-level programs or different backgrounds. They all had done some professional work (smaller, regional ensemble work) and/or summer programs where they met a professor or made contacts.

So my earlier comment was not to say “find a performance opportunity” which is non-existent. It was to say “network”. Networking can be done online. Not everyone “enjoys” social media but it can help you network. At 25, you should have a website if you are a performer and be building your brand (meaning just who you are as a performer). Maybe you have done this already. I can’t tell much from your posts.

And, you can see online performances of small opera theaters. My D has participated in these and follows some of them. She found a really cool female opera singer who just started composing in a jt program she did online. She followed and reached out to the woman…since she admires her “journey” and would like to work with her some day (maybe never possible but I’m sure the woman didn’t mind the compliment and sincere intent). So…another professional contact. Maybe you do this already.

If you are having problems getting acceptances to a grad program, I would suggest continuing to work with your teacher AND start/continue networking online. Remember it’s a small world. These people are all connected…and you want to work yourself into their world…by first taking an interest in them and their work. Starting small and local is the best way. Then you can build from there.

I hope that this helps in some way.

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Here is an article that gives you examples of what big houses are doing (the Met) all the way down to what the small, regional groups are doing (#5). Even though live performances have stopped…creating music and performing has not. It’s just gone virtual in most cases. There are a number of small groups listed in #5 with a variety of vocal artists participating and connecting online. Maybe one of these groups is near you or your teachers knows some of the participants? And there are master classes online as mentionned. My D has taken advantage of some of those opportunities.