I love “young artists”

By typing that header, I have officially made myself feel old!!   However, given that in my singing life I have been past the upper age limit for “Young Artist Programs” for {cough} just a few years now, I’m allowed to say it, with the greatest of respect and affection.   From my perspective of jaded antiquity (since anybody over 30 in Operaland is no longer really considered a “YA” any more!), I get to love these guys, their enthusiasm and their motivation.  It’s a really cool time in a young singer’s life – you have enough technique and experience to get hired, but everything is still new and exciting; not that those of us a little further along the path don’t find it exciting, but it is different than those magical “first experience” professional years.   Best of all, as a photographer, I get to enjoy it all over again from an entirely different perspective – how cool is that?!

For the non-opera-singers (or non-American opera-singers) reading, Young Artist Programs – or “YAPs” as they’re more commonly called – are pretty much a rite-of-passage on the US operatic landscape: designed as opportunities to help students and emerging artists cross over from advanced student into the professional world, they’re essentially internships for singers;  they might understudy a role, sing chorus, or even perform a “mainstage” role.  Getting accepted into one of these programs is the goal of most young singers; it’s not only for the resume credit and prestige, but these gigs usually come with lots of coaching, lessons, stagecraft training, and myriad other educational opportunities. And, unlike many other things in the musical world, they’re paid!

I’ve had a run of shoots with folks gearing up for this year’s round of applications and auditions – fall is “the season” for opera singers, culminating with a couple of weeks of intense activity right around Thanksgiving as the out-of-town companies descend on New York city to hear all the young talent they can.  Each of these sessions was an absolute pleasure and I can only hope they had as much fun as I did!

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