I hate blogs. I find them pretentious, whiney, and worst of all; full of poor grammar and spelling. That being said, I also understand the importance of them. The need for people to express how they feel is something I sometimes take for granted. I am an Opera Singer. We express ALL DAY LONG.
Having a bad hair day? Vent your frustrations by singing some Strauss lieder. So beautiful, and full of love and line, you’ll forget about the rat’s nest on top of your head. Angry with your boyfriend? Take a crack at Donna Anna’s “Or sai chi l’onore,” and you will feel a WHOLE lot better. Broken hearted? Just stand anywhere near a Madama Butterfly recording, and you will find a friend in forlornness. Don’t even get me started on Janáček, Dvořák, or Tchaikovsky. We’d be here all day with a box of tissues and several rounds of stiff cocktails.
However, knowing that I am so very lucky and blessed to be able to sing this kind of music on a daily basis helps me understand why singers pour out gratitude in their blogs. We’re artists. In the words of a dear friend, “we feeeeeeel!” Ugh. All of these feelings! I find myself constantly torn between my Canadian upbringing and my American life. Do I just keep my head down, work hard, and remain quiet about my emotions, letting them come out in my work? Or, do I take a chance, put my money where my mouth is, and try something new and scary? The answer I’ve come up with is the same one I often arrive at. I do a little of both.
My aim for this blog is to shed a little light on what it is like to be an Opera Singer today. Everywhere I go, people ask me what it is like, how I got here, and my least favorite question, “what is a normal day in your life?” There is no normal. We don’t fit in any box. We make our own plans, our own schedules, our own rules, and it can be both terrifying and exhilarating. The one question I always find myself coming back to when I think about what I have achieved, and what I have yet to accomplish is: How on earth was I brave enough to even begin this journey? The answer is two fold. Sheer lunacy, and my Mom. I was too naive to realize what I was getting into. I love music. I love to sing. I want to be an Opera Singer! Easier said than done. There are lessons, coachings, gowns, headshots, school, auditions, flights, and a whole lot more to think about. My Mom has been there every step of the way. She has been there to cheer for and support me, and has attended almost every show I’ve ever done. More importantly, she is there when it’s not going so well. When I lose, when I don’t get in, when I need advice, and when I need help to pay my phone bill. When I say, “Why didn’t I go into med school?” She replies, “You are meant to be a singer, Rhoslyn.”
I try to 'repay' her with my commitment to and passion for my roles and performances. To keep working hard at what I love to do, and make her proud. To continue to be kind, polite, and courteous, like my Canadian mother taught me to be. To be brave, adventurous, and put myself out there. I can do all of these things because of her.
Remembering where I come from and who helped me become the person I am, arms me to deal with what lies ahead in my life and career. As singers, we are constantly told to be a certain way. Be confident. Be brave. Be thinner. Be more like (fill in the blank with famous singer name). It can be exhausting. I know how to be one thing. It may be cheesy to quote the movie Spanglish, but I don’t care...here goes: “My identity rests firmly and happily on one fact: I am my mother’s daughter,” and that is more than enough.
Thank you, Mom.