How I became Britain’s 1st Award Winning Operatic Comedian
On the 3rd January 2013 I was an Operatic Soprano employed to perform Pitti Sing and undertake the role of production manager as part of a touring Mikado. The cast were fabulous and funny, the venues interesting and challenging (ever tried to inhale a deep breath of Cow Methane before singing a long phrase…..it’s something of a challenge) and it culminated in a packed out performance at Colston Hall, Bristol (with full orchestra and 300 strong Gurt Lush choir chorus…I grinned from ear to ear).In parallel I still had to audition for more work. (Name another job where you are required to re-interview every 3 months!) I was bored with being nameless, faceless Soprano No.#99 of the 200 other Sopranos auditioning for one operatic role and utterly disheartened that despite going through a sole destroying audition (honestly some panels are just vile), weeks worth of brilliant and mind expanding rehearsals (one of the things I truly love about my job) and the final performance (where critics either: ignore you, love you or tear every ounce of your efforts apart, safe in the knowledge that their pay cheque will still come in at the end of the month), I was worrying profusely about how the hell I would pay my mortgage (the average rate for an Opera singer in 2012 was £60 per performance, including all travel and food and £0 for rehearsals…and that’s being generous). And so on the 3rd January 2013 I decided to bite the bullet and take my one woman (plus accompanist) Operatic recital: Diva Gigs: A week in the Life of a Diva, to the Edinburgh Fringe. In honesty it was my last attempt to get the Operatic World to notice me without becoming target practice for yet another sadistic audition panel, and if all the doors closed…well, I’d hang up my sparkly frock.
2013 CHANGED MY LIFE
I learned and undertook all the jobs required of a touring company: marketing, fundraising, planning and production. Tackling the work of 4 people whilst attempting to perform and rehearse (and continuing to teach, coach and lecture) was killing me until I was saved by: Graduate Advantage who managed to source the Diva intern: Helen Ross (on the left)
I learned that Graduate interns are immensely energized, motivated and focused members of British society. Their grey matter is highly stimulated by learning and they absorb information like Upsalite. They are social media natives, risk takers and idea makers who can function on far less hours sleep than your average 30 year old. I consider them to be the most under-used asset of our present work force and I am honored to have had one on my Diva Team.
I was introduced to the concept of Crowd Funding: ‘the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people’. Using Kick starter I filmed, edited and produced a video (which takes many more hours than one would think) and created a Kick Starter Project that, thanks to family, friends, friends of friends, a loyal audience and a little social networking magic, smashed my financial goal by 234% and raised 10% of the funds needed to send Diva Gigs to the Edinburgh Fringe. See campaign:
My team grew from 3 (me, Ana-Maria & Helen) to 4 when my cousin Dav volunteered to become my much needed PA. This is her getting me out of my Marketing cock-up:
By June I had upgraded from Opera Singer to Diva Gigs touring company….not bad for 6 months hard graft. Edinburgh went by in a whirl. Helen and Dav flyered and networked like demons, spending up to 4 hours a day on the mile (and taking on any companies that DIDN’t do their jobs properly)
The whole team watched performances and talked to other artists, touring companies, comedians, producers, agents, journalist, bar owners, bar staff and booking office crew. We spent so much time in our Diva T-shirts and Hoodies that if we whistled for them they would have bounded towards us. I went out there with a ‘revolutionary operatic cabaret’ and the knowledge that this may be the end of my career…but thanks to a superb team of woman, enormous amounts of work, overwhelming support from people of the Midlands, Birmingham Mail and the Express and Star, and the advice of journalists, reviewers and artists in Edinburgh, I came back Britains 1st Award Winning Operatic Comedian.
CHEER….WHOOP……PARTY POPPER…….NOW what…????
Well…. Diva has been invited to take part in Battersea Barge’s ‘Cheese ‘n’ Crackers’ in February 2014, she has secured a date at the Midland Art Centre in April, she is writing a new Diva Gig for Ingestre
and she has accepted an invitation to perform at Ludlow Festival in June. She has been asked by several Birmingham non-classical artists about a mashup and she has been requested to contact a handful of agents….so lets see…
And as for Sarah-Ann? I have recently bought a new frock, safe in the knowledge that if I do have babies, the comedic operatic cabaret world will happily wait for me and welcome me back! I continue to coach students and adults and thanks to my work with other consultants delivering emerging leadership programs and change management projects, I have learned how Diva performing skills can be adopted by businesses in order to create successful and efficient leaders and teams. And so on the 3rd January 2014 I have decided to go-it-alone! What’s stopping me from adding Independant Awesome Facilitator, Ice Breaker and Confidence Coach to my list of achievements?….answer….NOTHING! HAPPY 2014 Diva!!!!!!!