Hero tenor, mezzo-soprano, coloratura soprano, title role and tenor voice in famous opera houses, the theatrical performance in a national opera, cavalier baritone or lyric mezzo – these are just a few names for the different types of opera singers.
And the singing personalities at the opera houses are just as complex and individual as the vocal subjects.
Today, we tell you all you need to know about the opera singer profession and how to hire the best opera singers near you and worldwide.
With Eventeus.com, you can now meet opera singing talents who perform classical music for recognized opera companies such as the Metropolitan Opera in San Francisco. You will find opera singers who work with Italian, French, international music directors, and other opera singers who did their musical scores on La Bohème or Don Giovanni and other famous plays alongside Montserrat Caballé Luciano Pavarotti.
Let’s discover this unique art form and how the best opera singers can perform for you.
What is opera singing?
The opera is a musical genre of the theater. The term comes from the Italian opera = “musical work.” An opera consists of a dramatic poem set to music. As a musical drama, the opera combines song, drama, and dance on a theater stage with the music that helps shape the dramatic plot. The opera house as a performance venue or producing institution can also be briefly referred to as an opera.
Opera differs from drama, operetta, and musical in some essential characteristics. Of course, opera differs from pure spoken theater through its singing. However, the transitions between drama and opera are fluid, and numerous mixed forms emerged, such as the farce with singing.
The operetta differs from the opera, which has been increasingly well composed since the 19th century, on the one hand by the spoken dialogues, on the other hand by the efforts to achieve popularity and economic success. The distinction did not emerge until the 19th century, when comic opera changed from a lower entertainment form to a higher art form. The operetta took the place of the comic opera.
The musical as a form of famous musical theater also differs from the opera in terms of entertainment and commercial aspects. Although there are numerous well-composed musicals, these use popular music – in contrast to classical music – and primarily popular material.
How to become an opera singer?
The training to become a professional opera singer conveys the necessary practical and theoretical skills for an opera singer. Above all, emphasis is placed on developing the personality of the singer.
The training also includes music theater productions directed by renowned artists and accompanied by well-known orchestras.
As an opera singer, you will need to master some essential skills:
- Musical ensemble work
- Game studies/coaching
- Scenic and musical representation
- Scenic aria work
- Audition training
- Stage movement
- Speech formation/dialogue speaking
- Phonetics / foreign languages
- Opera history/work analysis
- Role dramaturgy/role analysis
How much can you earn as opera singers?
Since opera singers have usually studied singing and have to deal with much more complicated melodies, their professionalism is generally more outstanding than pop or rock singers.
No collective agreement to govern the fees of soloists and guest conductors: the ranges depend on each structure’s budgetary resources. In a medium-sized regional opera house, a singer’s price per performance does not exceed 5,000 euros.
- In the oratorio, without an agent, an opera singer will make €300 to €800
- A singing recital or a chamber music program: €400 to €1000
- An opera singer leading role, depending on the number of performances and the notoriety of the artist: €2,000 to €5,000 per performance
- Secondary roles: depending on the agent’s reputation and sales force: €1,000 to €2,500 per representation.
- Small house singing opera roles: €800 to €1,500 plus costs. For medium-sized festivals: 700 to €2,500
- Monthly choir artists: €1,300 to €2,000 in a small provincial theater and €1,800 to €2,500 in a national theater.
How do opera singers sing?
Many opera singers sing in a “noble” singing manner. And “elegant” is just not “cool,” and in the 70s and 80s, even less than today!
In any case, I don’t know a single pop or rock singer, regardless of the era, who uses the “elegant” singing style.
In opera singing, the throat is usually deep, and the soft palate is raised to achieve the famous “yawning width” that enables dark, loud sounds with minimal effort and minimal strain on the vocal folds.
With pop or rock singing, the voice is usually “flatter,” often with a high throat and sometimes even unhealthily pressed (“boy band sound”).
But what you should never forget: No matter how uneconomical or unhealthy the voice maybe – it produces its sound, and it can be intentional and suitable for the song.
Opera singing is usually about large legato arcs. The individual notes are connected as seamlessly as possible without interrupting the flow of breath and the vocal cords’ closure. Such phrasing would sound strange on pop, rock, or jazz songs.
The voice volume
In opera singing, a crucial focus is on the volume and carrying capacity of the voice. After all, a large hall should be filled with sound without an amplifier. Many opera singers tend to give way too much, and more than necessary is another story.
In opera, the ideal mix must be achieved through the natural volume of the instruments and the singing and the positioning of these sound sources in the room. And of course, through the dynamics that the instrumentalists and singers create. So, how loud or how soft they play or sing.
As a point of reference for people who have no experience here: medium-volume opera singing is about as loud as loud shouting, loud opera singing as a roar.
The fullness of sound
In addition to the larger volume, opera voices are also “richer” in the frequency spectrum. Each tone, unless it is an artificially generated pure sine tone, consists of a fundamental tone and numerous overtones, which all together determine a sound event’s timbre.
Opera voices now have many of these overtones, especially in the frequency range between 2 kHz and 3.5 kHz. Human hearing is most sensitive in this frequency range. Even if an orchestra is now playing relatively loud and even if the listener is sitting some distance away from the singer, his brain can “calculate back” the fundamental tone based on these frequencies, which his ears can still perceive.
In the immediate vicinity of an opera singer, sometimes even in the entire hall, these frequencies are noticeable as whistling or chirping. It is also called the “metal” or “ray” in the voice.
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