Will taking on professional work in music theatre as a young singer affect the way an opera company (such as Opera Australia) will view me? Or is any experience considered good experience? How do you handle transferring between the genres?
I actually had a chat with my boss, Lyndon Terracini, about this when I was offered the Sound Of Music role. His perspective on it was that in this country, it is perfectly acceptable (and on occasions even encouraged) to perform in both opera and music theatre. There’s a happy crossover between the two genres and nobody judges you for performing in both styles. He did warn me that in other countries, this might not be the case, and that some international opera companies may not take a singer seriously if they’ve been performing in music theatre. It’s becoming MUCH more acceptable as many of the world’s major opera stars tackle crossover repertoire regularly (Bryn Terfel’s Sweeney Todd – WOW!). It’s always wise to carefully consider which roles you will perform at what time and make sure that you can reasonably switch from one to the other (vocally, dramatically, stamina-wise) in that time frame. I go straight into The Ring Cycle for Opera Australia after The Sound of Music and will make sure that I’m singing that through Fricka in the months leading up to Ring rehearsals, to get my stamina and ‘Wagner voice’ up. Mother Superior may get a bit louder in the last few months! I try to make sure I sing everything with a solid technique and get as much rest and drink as much water as possible during hectic times. I think if you’ve chosen your roles wisely and spaced them out cleverly, it’s not that much of a stretch to weave between music theatre and opera. Then again, I would never take on a serious belt role for 8 shows a week, as that’s not a style I could sustain in the long term without vocal fatigue. The Sound of Music and all of those classic musicals are sung in a very classical style, so it’s not a huge departure from opera.