This week we shall take a break from the series of blogs about Maltese composers of opera authored by Mr. Joseph Vella Bondin. In today’s blog we shall take a look at the everyday life of a modern day, young opera soprano, Nicola Said.
I am an Opera Singer, and I love it. I consider myself extremely lucky to be following this career. It is wonderful to be on stage, it is a gift to be able to move an audience, to give them joy, to bring tears to their eyes, to inspire them in any way possible. There are not many other jobs in this life that allow for such honest, bare, raw communication; it is a gift to allow myself to be completely vulnerable in front of a theatre full of people I don’t know. Yes, it is glamourous and exciting, adrenaline is often my best friend. I get to wear crazy costumes, go to pre-drinks, after-parties, wear nice dresses, meet generous people from all over the world, and travel lots. One of the best parts is when after I’ve given my heart and soul into the performance, an audience member or two come to tell me after a performance how much my singing moved them, that’s when I feel I have really succeeded as a performer!
Yes, the lifestyle is wonderful, but it also requires a lot of discipline in every area of life, and while this is true for most professional opera singers, the lifestyle varies depending on each person and what affects/doesn't affect them and their work productivity. I find that I require quite a strict regime in order to work at peak performance, particularly during production period (the period during which rehearsals for an opera are in full swing). The "strictness" of my lifestyle very much depends on what I have going on, whether it is a concert, an opera or an audition and more specifically what I am singing for each event - whether the music consists of very high notes, whether it is high or low pressure, whether it is difficult, whether it is a piece I have performed several times, whether it is a piece I have only done a couple of times before or whether it is a completely new work.
One of the things I'm asked most is, are there any foods Opera singers stay away from, particularly on the day of a performance ? - I can only speak for myself in this, as everyone is different. There is the saying "You are what you eat", and I find that to be very true in my case. In general, I will always stay away from wheat and dairy (particularly in my own cooked meals) if it can be helped, especially when I have an important performance or audition coming up. I like to live a relatively healthy lifestyle consisting of mostly meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, although I have a sweet tooth and enjoy my dark chocolate! I also do Pilates weekly (which is similar to Yoga but focuses on the core strength). I must say that sometimes it can be hard to keep up with the financial aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. There are varying degrees of course, but at this stage of a career singers aren't paid that much, or we have to resort to not being paid in order to get roles onto our CV, to build our reputation and to be heard, to do various "opportunities" as they like to be called. In truth they are opportunities, but don't necessarily help towards actually paying one's rent or food...But that's a whole other ball game! The competition even for such roles is high, since supply vastly outweighs demand. The setback of having spent a long time training in institutions also puts many singers at a certain financial disadvantage to begin with.
In next week blog Nicola Said continues to talk about her life as a professional soprano, starting off how her work demands affect her social life.