This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a one-day workshop presented by OPERA America at Ithaca College. Don Marrazzo, Director of Casting & Artistic Operations, was invited by OPERA America to join the panel of opera industry representatives who led the workshop by offering career guidance born of their own professional and personal experiences. The panel included representatives from ADA Artists Management, Syracuse Opera, the Eastman School of Music, Tri-Cities Opera, and Lake George Opera. The title of the workshop was Strategies for Building a Successful Career. Events of the day included themed panel discussions such as Making the Most of School and Training Programs, Getting Hired and Working as a Professional Singer, and Transitioning Careers. Don and the other panelists also led Q&A sessions on career planning with small groups of registrants divided by age and experience. Four young singers attending the workshop also had the opportunity to sing for and receive feedback from the panelists in a mock audition setting.

The majority of the registrants were college undergraduates studying voice performance, so much of the conversation was geared toward planning the early stages of a professional singing career. Many questions were raised about graduate study and young artist training programs, and Don shared his thoughts regarding casting Glimmerglass Opera’s own Young American Artists Program. The workshop registrants were interested to learn what Don looks and listens for in an audition, and his definition of what it means to be a good colleague. During the mock auditions, Don offered repertoire suggestions and advice as to creating organized audition materials (including resumes and repertoire lists) and getting high-quality headshots. By the end of the day, the registrants were armed with an arsenal of information and advice from the panel of opera pros!

After the structured sessions of the workshop were over, the registrants and panelists had the opportunity to meet, mingle, and talk about the day in a more casual setting. I was delighted to learn that not only were many of the registrants familiar with Glimmerglass Opera in general and the Young American Artists Program specifically, but they were also aware of our summer internship program. A good number of the registrants with whom I spoke expressed an interest in applying for a summer internship at Glimmerglass this year, either because they are not yet ready to audition for a training program or because they are interested in learning more about careers in the arts outside of performing. As a grad of both the Ithaca College School of Music and Glimmerglass Opera’s internship program, I was thrilled to talk about my time as a Glimmerglass intern with a group of IC students!

All in all, Don and I had a wonderful day sharing our experiences with such a receptive, engaging, and warm group of young singers, and we look forward to the possibility of meeting them again in the future as interns, members of the Young American Artists Program, or Glimmerglass audience members!

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