Ok, ok - so I say “I”m back” and then I take ten days off. Lame, I know, but I’ve been kind of at a loss as to how to write about my current working situation.
You see, I’m back at the Met right now, singing a tiny role in Nozze di Figaro and covering Barbarina. It’s been a very strange and, frankly, humbling experience, and I haven’t been sure how to write about it without seeming snobby or ungrateful. I’m still not sure, honestly, but if this blog is about an honest look into my career, I need to try. Bear with me...
It happened like this: when I sang for the Met last winter, they were pretty quick to offer me a great contract with roles and covers that were a clear “step up” from my contract two seasons ago. I was thrilled, obviously, and especially happy to think that they were starting to view me in less of a Solo Bit capacity, and moving me into Supporting territory (even Featured, as in the case of Naiad). Awesome! A step in the right direction.
Then we got an email asking if I would also be available to cover Barbarina and sing a few performances of the soprano Bridesmaid. I was so confused! What happened to my forward progress? I’ve already performed Barbarina, so why would they want me to cover it? How did this offer make sense with the first one?!
At the time, I had a conflicting hold on my schedule for a principal role, so my managers called the holding company to let them know it was time to “fish or cut bait,” as my father would say. They cut bait, sadly, so I was free to accept the additional offer from the Met. (Ironically, the company then called two months later and asked if I was available again. Grr!)
Now, you may be asking why we didn’t just turn down the addendum offer from the Met. I asked that question myself! But the Met is a complicated machine, with MANY working parts that require many other working parts. One of the ways they make sure they have everything covered is to “bundle” contracts like this, particularly with the weekly-salaried singers like me.
In addition, in this financial climate with opera companies cutting productions and fees left and right, how could I turn down six additional weeks of great work? I couldn’t. I was - and am - grateful to be working.
But it has been strange and challenging in so many ways! While it is great to be back in the familiar and memory-laden halls of the Met, it is hard to shift from being the leading lady in other houses to singing a role so small it feels like an afterthought. My ego has had to take a seat for a while... I’m watching rehearsals of the opera I know better than any, watching two roles that I have performed and loved. It’s been hard to turn off the judgmental voice, the one we all have that says “I can do / should be doing that,” and just focus on doing my role in this production, but I’m trying - and succeeding, I hope! One thing’s for sure: it’s given me a new perspective on times when I know Young Artists were watching *me* in rehearsals and probably thinking the same things!
All in all, I’ve had to realize that I’m at a time in my career when sometimes I take the first bow and sometimes the last. Big roles, smaller houses; small roles, bigger houses. It’s all part of the same fabulous art, though, and, in this case, it takes place on the greatest stage in the world.