Author Topic: Opera suggestions  (Read 10089 times)

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LisaEllis

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Opera suggestions
« on: Oct 12, 2006, 02:35 pm »
Getting a job in opera, like any other discipline, is about who you know and getting your name out there.  Start sending resumes, even if you can't find who to specifically address them to.

A very helpful resources is operaamerica.org, the website for the opera community.  You can find opera companies listed by state, seach productions by date or location, and read job postings.

Many companies have lighter rep, and do musical theatre as well as standard opera.  If you have an opera company in your area, try getting an ASM job for a show or two.  Once you've assisted, you'll know if you like it, and they'll know you're familiar with the protocol.  And having some opera on there will help when you apply to out-of-town companies that would need to provide your travel and accomodations.  The shortest contracts are about 3 weeks...2 in the room, 1 onstage, and 2 performances.

ASMing in opera does not mean sitting around backstage babysitting the prop table...it's a very involved process, even in a show with a simple set.  Don't be offended to assist, because I'll bet it still pays better than an SPT contract (all depending on the size of the company).

I hope this helps some of you who are considering how to break in.  Best of luck!

Lisa

DeeCap

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #1 on: Oct 16, 2006, 09:39 am »
I agree with operaamerica.org being a great resource. They list all company members and their websites.

It was a great tool to help me secure my first opera job.

Scott

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #2 on: Oct 16, 2006, 12:15 pm »

I would also (*plug*) suggest that the Stage Managers' Association might be a good  resource for someone looking to make a transition into opera, espcially with an AEA background.  A lot of members are either dedicated opera Stage Managers or float between the two worlds.  (*plug* *plug*).

Also, the SMA job postings have a fair amount of opera employment opportunities that aren't otherwise easily found.  (*plug* *plug* *plug*).

(My opinion is that an experienced AEA Stage Manager can hold out for a paying job in opera -- however, *plug* please PM or otherwise contact me if you [anyone] are interested in a non-paid internship/apprenticeship for an established opera company in the NY area with performance dates this coming January.)

LisaEllis

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #3 on: Oct 20, 2006, 04:28 pm »
I would have to point out that I haven't joined SMA because of the membership fee.

I don't live anywhere near New York, which is where I understand most of SMA is centered around.

I find work easily enough without SMA...what's a good reason to justify the fee?  I'm not AEA, so bargaining there doesn't do anything for me.

Just wondering...

DeeCap

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #4 on: Oct 23, 2006, 10:31 am »
I understand how you feel about the SMA. For a while, I didn't join due to that.
However, they are trying to branch outside of New York. This website is also joining forces with SMA.
I have noticed that many of the job postings have been outside of NYC. There has been a lot of opera job postings in the past (which inspired me to get into opera)

stageman7

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #5 on: Nov 23, 2006, 02:55 pm »
Hi-Can I add that I just posted and helped hire an SM for the Yale Opera, and another posting has been done for their next production? (I'm the resident "tech advisor" for their shows.) In both cases, as well as last year, the SMA job posting generated the successful hiring and numerous e-mails. I also posted on the Playbill website and the Backstage Jobs website, by the way. Opera companies are often more focused in their SM job candidates, because of the additional requirements such as musical score comprehension and specific blocking notes. Thanks for supporting the SMA and opera- Rich A.

ljh007

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #6 on: Nov 26, 2006, 08:15 pm »
I love the SMA, and think that many of their job postings are outside of NYC. I would consider their postings proportionate in posting theatre gigs nationwide. There are just more people in NYC hiring at any given time. You do see a whole lot of opera through SMA postings, as well as a good dose of tours.

But here's why you should join, even if you never see an SMA job posting that works for you: Listing that you are an SMA (or other kind of professional organization) member on you resume shows hirers that you take your SM career seriously. Even if you just pay your dues and sit back and relax, it does create an impression that you might network with other professionals, that you look for ways to expand your knowledge and skill base, that you are committed to being a professional stage manager for the long haul. This may or may not be the case - but it looks good, and that can go a long way. Everybody on this fabulous site can already add to their resume that they've been a "Member of the online Stage Managers' Network" and even add "...since 1999" or whenever you joined. Especially if you don't join a union, this is an excellent way to show that you take SMing seriously as a career.

LisaEllis

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #7 on: Nov 30, 2006, 12:31 am »
Hi-Can I add that I just posted and helped hire an SM for the Yale Opera, and another posting has been done for their next production? (I'm the resident "tech advisor" for their shows.) In both cases, as well as last year, the SMA job posting generated the successful hiring and numerous e-mails. I also posted on the Playbill website and the Backstage Jobs website, by the way.

And if the same job is posted on backstagejobs.com, a free website, what is the motivation again to pay money for it?

Just checking...

ljh007

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #8 on: Nov 30, 2006, 01:11 pm »
Often the same job is not posted on backstagejobs.com. I've had production managers tell me that they only post through the SMA because they know they'll get better candidates that way. Sometimes, especially with smaller companies, they may only post in one place because they don't have the time or manpower to post with several organizations, and then manage and withdraw those posts when the position is filled. They post in one place, and if that doesn't yield any good candidates, they might go ahead and post in another place. But I have found this to be true more for small to mid- size companies.

I guess you could compare this to posting a personal ad in the classifieds (who knows what kinds of people will respond) versus using a dating service (where you might meet someone who actually fits with you).

LisaEllis

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Re: Opera suggestions
« Reply #9 on: Dec 02, 2006, 03:52 am »
Often stage management positions are not posted at all, but found by sheer luck.

Because so much of the opera business is based on freelancing, it's important to be proactive and fill your own calendar.  That's why I find Opera America to be very useful to find performance dates, staff listings, and websites.  I can find shows when I'm available, companies I want to work for, and who to address my resume to.  I can write a very specific cover letter about the show and why I want to work on it.

And if I don't hear back, that's OK, because at least I put it out there and tried.  And it's one more production manager who has seen my name and my resume.  But if I do hear back, it's another company I've made a connection with and may be higher on the list next time.  And I might have gotten my resume in the week before they thought about needing to post for that position, or right when someone backed out.

Production Managers for opera are ALWAYS looking, even if the current season is staffed.  The shorter seasons are hard to keep staffed, and could be needing someone.  The festival seasons involve so many people, often someone backs out a month or two before.

So I don't wait for a job posting to apply for a position.  If they're doing a show, they need a SM.  The worst that happens is they throw it away, or maybe keep it on file.  Or, if it all works out, they hire me before it ever hit the boards that they were looking.

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