The research that my marketing team (by which I mean my fabulous brand new Aston University graduate intern: Helen, my super quick, newly qualified Black Country primary school teacher and volunteer PA: Davina and anybody who responds to my social media cries for help) have uncovered information that points to one overwhelming and exciting conclusion:
Diva Gigs: A week in the life of a Diva is ground breaking
I know, BIG STATEMENT and one I don’t make lightly. It is ground breaking because no other Opera singer is performing classical recitals like Diva Gigs.
Anything new, exclusive and different should be easy to sum up in 100 words and excitedly exclaim in a 30 second elevator pitch, right? This should be marketing gold?…It is a freakin nightmare!! There’s nothing like it going on at the moment, it can’t be compared with a known act or a particular performer, it is neither a staged opera, or classical cross over and it is certainly not me singing songs from Wicked and Legally Blond in an inappropriate warbley voice. The literal description is ‘Operatic’ ‘cabaret’ which, when united, forms the most exclusive and therefore the most repelling marketing description. I may as well dress up as the guy from the go compare advert and sing knock knock jokes on the Royal Mile…and no it’s not that either! Diva Gigs is….?
I had the opportunity to pitch Diva Gigs to a long established and respected Birmingham company. The night before was another ‘head in hands, wish I could drink a bottle of wine’ moment, only this time I was saved by my wonderful man who, mid-red wine-sip said, ‘why don’t you explain the objectives rather than describe the show?’
‘YOU BEAUTY! I knew there was a reason I was marrying you…’
How was Diva Gigs created? I have been performing Classical music all my life. As a teenager I was trained by Leicestershire Youth Arts (clarinetist) and spent every Saturday of my teenage years performing in Wind Bands and Orchestras. When I undertook degree no.1 I switched orchestras for choral singing and eventually to solos and when I undertook post grad no.3 (the operatic switch) I began attending an enormous volume of classical recitals and operas. You could say, as an audience member and as a performer I’m well versed in the ol’ classical performance. It was watching Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Frederica Von Stade at Symphony Hall Birmingham that did it. I was enormously excited about seeing 2 of the worlds greatest Opera Divas in a recital and the opening 3 minutes were indeed, stupendous. What technique! What a diminuendo! What control….and 15 minutes later I’d checked my watch, read all the programme notes and was planning my lunch. As a trainee opera singer I should have been pinned to my seat with awe. I felt a bit ashamed…and a failure….and embarrassed…and stupid….why was I not gripped by this world class performance? At the interval I scuttled out of the theatre so that I wouldn’t have to talk enthusiastically about the performance with my fellow opera buddies (I’m a hopeless lier). I bought a glass of wine, waited till the 1 minute call and scuttled back to my seat, slipped off my shoes, curled my feet onto the chair and then Kiri came onto the stage followed by Frederica….wearing the most amazing amount of bling you have ever seen…and then…Frederica spoke to us….and that was the moment that I realised…not only is she a normal person, but I actually like her! The next 40 minutes the only movement I made was to sip my wine.
And so Diva Gigs began to evolve. First and foremost, I will always be the best damned Opera Singer I can be today but not as good as the one I’ll be tomorrow, which involves constant lessons, coaching and practice. Then, I’ll take the Classical rule book and throw it out of the window.
Classical recitals must demonstrate a balanced programme:
Knickers to that, I’m going to sing a wide variety of classical genres and ensure that everybody gets to hear something that they might actually like.
Perform in a suitably ostentatious environment:
WHY???? It puts people on edge and makes them feel that they aught to behave in a certain manner. If I want to wear jeans, kick off my shoes, nurse a rare glass of bubbly (a weakness, soz), throw my head back and laugh out loud because a song’s bloody funny, then why the hell shouldn’t everybody else?
Rule 3: Enter the stage to polite clapping, bow, sing, leave the stage to polite clapping:
Do I look like the Queen????? People want to know that the performer they’re supporting isn’t (or is) an arse, and I’m going to talk to the people (who kindly put their hard earned cash into a ticket to my Diva Gig) DURING the performance.
Furthermore, Diva Gigs will aim to be socially and ethically conscious. It will be clean, void of unnecessary swearing, sexy (but never cheap!), classy, funny and a creative product which the Black Country and Birmingham will be proud of. Yes, Opera can be enormously intimidating if you don’t know or understand it. But ultimately we’re a group of people who foolishly made the decision that singing was going to be the way that we earned our living (excuse me while I collapse into hysterical laughter, the pay is terrible!) Underneath all the frocks, diamante, make up and classical music we’re ordinary people, like everybody else, working exceptionally hard to pay our monthly bills.
Can I describe Diva Gigs….errmmm: ground breaking, award winning, operatic cabaret…I’m still working on it but I can guarantee you will not experience anything like it anywhere else and, if you give it a twirl, you’ll have a bloody good time.