Long gone are the days in which a composer
hands over a score or sheet music and says, “I wrote an opera, are you
interested?” It takes too much effort on the part of these opera companies.
Also, I have discovered that many artistic directors do not read music, so a score is
superfluous. I made the decision to “produce my opera in order to get it
Now, I don’t have the money to actually produce an opera. I
realized I needed to create a packaged product, that I could send to opera
companies. I knew I had to make it as informative about the the project without
the the time, money, and energy that goes into staging a new work.
So in February 2009, I created a highlights CD for voice and
piano and a Listening Companion, as a guide to the music in the opera. It was a compromise between sending an opera
company a full libretto and a MIDI CD and producing the entire opera on a CD.
You see, technology in music can help and hurt you. It is
easier today to get a good quality recording of live voices than it was 5 years
ago. Many of the professional companies look at MIDI recordings as a rough
draft and are often suspect, because MIDI can play back anything, even beyond
the capabilities of a human voice. Therefore, they are not always convinced
that the music is playable.
I had grant money, (about $2000) from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to record the works. There are also grants available from the state and
federal government, and they are more likely to give you money if you have a
structure set up, i.e hall space, performer, an estimate from the sound
engineer. I had enough for a few singers, but I couldn't afford a full choir.
I paid singers from the College-Conservatory of Music to sing the
three lead roles and a slightly lower fee to a soprano, alto, tenor,
and bass to be utilized in the chorus. I invited music directors to share the news about the project
with their choirs and asked for volunteers.
As a results, there were 45 choir members from eleven different
churches. I rehearsed with the paid singers on a Thursday morning, and the
choir on a Thursday night. We rehearsed together on a Friday, in which I placed
the four singers to lead each voice section. We recorded on Saturday.
It was a
whirlwind, but it was done...I now had a product in which I could send off to opera companies and other groups.
Here's a selection from that recording session. Check back next week for more, in the fifth installment of "From Idea to Opera."