At some point in your career, unless you are having infinite success in the US, a coach, mentor, or teacher will suggest, “have you considered Germany?”
I have no clue how YOU will respond to that question. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of living abroad and immersing yourself in another culture. Or maybe you are like me and you have simple dreams, dreams of performing consistently and Germany offers the possibility of that.
No matter how you get there, I imagine you WILL have that question presented to you and then you will begin the exploration phase that we are in, which consists of: polling friends in the career, brushing up on your German language chops and saving money.
In case you are like my parents or just haven’t heard of the allure of singing in Germany, allow me to elaborate.
According to statistics taken from Opera Base, for the 2015/2016 opera season, worldwide, there were 22,700 opera performances. Germany alone, held 6,795 performances, which is 33% of the world’s performances. The city that performs the most opera was Moscow at 582 performances. New York City, the only U.S. city to make the top 20 list, had 284 performances last season. Austria and Switzerland actually led in the number of performances per citizen. In the previous seasons Berlin has often been the city to produce the most opera.
The Semperoper, an opera house in Dresden, Germany
POLL YOUR PEOPLE
I have made a list of all my colleagues whom have sung and lived in Germany, and I surprised even myself with how many people I could add to that list. Then came the part I don’t particularly enjoy. You have to actually reach out to those colleagues and ask for their advice and opinions. (Lindsey and I share a document which we add questions to, in order to be concise and have specifics questions addressed.) Some basic questions are:
Do you think auditioning in Germany is even worth considering?
Is there a time period best to come?
What city do you recommend we stay in?
Those are the general questions. We have received positive feedback that Germany has a lot of opportunities and it is worth attempting. We’ve heard slight variances in the time to come, but primarily in the Fall and that no matter when you come, you can still line up agent auditions. Berlin is a surprisingly cost-effective city to stay in, especially if we can find a sublet. But as long as we stay in a city with the train access, we can get to all the opera houses!
LEARN THE LANGUAGE
Lindsey somehow retained the German she learned in school and is continuing her studies at an intermediate level. She is using:
German: A Self-Teaching Guide by Heimy Taylor and Werner Haas
German in 10 minutes a day by Kristine K. Kershul *** This workbook serves as a wonderful refresher for those who want a quick review before delving into more advance work.
I am enjoying working on the Memrise App for free. This App approaches language learning in a more natural way for me than Duolingo, but as I learn more I may work in both Apps and then begin some textbook work.
How lucky are we to be in NYC where finding native German language speakers will be easy? There are sites dedicated to linking up people who want to learn each other’s’ language, plus one could always pay for tutoring!
If language learning were easy for me, I might make a goal of being fluent when I arrive in Deutschland. However, languages do not come easily to me and therefore I am setting more attainable goals, like being able to answer all the questions that might arise in an audition setting, plus basics for travel and food.
We are currently reading the bible of German audition tours:
What the Fach?! The Definitive Guide for Opera Singers Auditioning and Working in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, 2nd Edition
By Philip Shepard
I recommend purchasing it for your kindle if you have one, it was cheaper that way!
Useful books we want to purchase include:
By Kloiber, Konold, Maschka
I have found these books at the nearby college library so I will be stopping by to check them out!
An AMAZING resource for all things opera, including: opera houses, artists, managers and statistics is operabase.com.
We hope this gives you a glimpse into our process and can help you in yours! We love hearing advice, and I’m always reading tips from those who have gone before us, so feel free to leave any comments or questions!