So, to start this off, a small ironic anecdote for your enjoyment!
I was recently reading an interview with Joyce Di Donato in the September Issue of Concerti (I think it's solely a German publication-not sure- don't shoot me if I'm wrong) where she said something akin to it being tough for her when she first got to Europe because she did 13 auditions and only got hired for 1 of them. It was at this point where I laid the magazine down and thought "Sheesh! If only that were my ratio!!! It would be a heck of a lot better than only 2 auditions in this past year's time and 0 hires." I picked the magazine back up, read a bit further and found surprisingly that my reaction was incorrect (apparently) because Joyce was seriously distressed about this 13:1/failure:success ratio. It even made her stop and completely re-evaluate her approach to discover what she could do better.
Now, does this all seem a bit silly to you? Do you find yourself thinking the same thing that I was? Does it seem like a success to you to be invited to 13 auditions in the first place, let alone get hired for 1 of them? Yeah. Join the club. Though apparently that's not the right attitude, because if we were Joyce, we'd have been re-tooling our entire approach to things by now.
But let's face it- who knows how many years ago poor Joyce had her distressing experience of 13:1? We all know how hard it is though, nowadays to even be invited to audition for an agent, let alone an Opera house (especially if you're any variety of 'Soprano'- God help us), and so when I hear people (even if they are as wonderful and nice and shiny as Joyce Di Donato, don't get me wrong, I truly admire who this woman is and and her achievements) saying that a 13:1 ratio is really bad, it makes me laugh. Sorry, but I just can't help it! To me, a person who has been doing everything possible (okay not everything, but ...EW! No.) to get in the faces (and ears) of as many agents and Opera houses as possible in Germany, Joyce's downheartedness seems a bit premature. I can't help but ask myself what would she have done if she had been faced with the things I (as well as most of my colleagues) have had to push through? Would she have quit a long time ago already? Would she have wrung her hands at the heavens and cursed her existence? Would she have bought a farm back in Kansas and sung only to her cows?
Who knows. But my point is, even though she was very well-meaning with her honesty in that she didn't get the red carpet rolled out by European houses back in the day when she wasn't as popular as she is now, it doesn't necessarily paint an accurate picture for the person who is reading her interview of the struggles and difficulties that an Opera career is laden with today. No, in fact, these sorts of interesting tidbits only make it harder for those of us out there now trying to achieve our goals (for many of us that means a paying job singing Opera, and for others of us that means any job singing Opera in a role that's appropriate, for crying out loud) and I can only say that I wish there was a way for more of us real-life, everyday Opera singers to explain what the daily grind is like. To give those inquisitive Opera Fans what they want: the truth about the sacrifices and the constant wondering when you'll get that one gig that will finally allow those people in hiring positions to know you, and understand you, and appreciate your artistry, and ultimately want to enable you to share that artistry with the world!!!!!!!!!!!
Yeah, that's right- I DO NOT HAVE a 13:1 ratio like Joyce. In fact, if I added up all the auditions that I've ever done professionally (including YAPS) versus those that I actually was chosen for, I'd say my ratio is more like 300:10. So, according to Joyce I guess I'm in a place where I should throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak, and re-design my approach. But you know what? The other, even more ironic part of that article was that during her re-tooling she realized that her problem was trying to be the kind of performer that others wanted her to be, and therefore she couldn't be authentic, but of course once she stopped that, she was super successful. Huh. Perhaps on second thought I'll keep doing what I feel is best, and see where that gets me. (Even if my ratio might reach 400: 11 soon.) Maybe I have more in common with Joyce than I think.