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  • Writer's pictureJose Hernandez

Finding New Opportunities in the Opera and Classical Music World After COVID-19

Of all the anxiety and unknown factors since March 2020, the one thing that seems like the greatest barrier to starting all over again is my age. In opera, there is a small window of opportunity after undergraduate studies and graduate school that is dictated by your birthdate to get on the map with young artist programs and competitions. For female voices, the age limit is often 30 years and for men 35 years of age. I’m over ten years past the age limits for many things, but my voice is at its best. I’ve matured. And now I'm starting all over at square one. To which I say, boo!

Me in Magic Flute

So, now, at my current age, I’m rethinking things and in some ways, it’s a good thing. The pandemic has forced all artists to figure things out on their own. Things like using existing technology to teach, present our work, and pick up the fragments of work available.

Fall and Winter is usually the audition season in New York City. Singers from all over the US and abroad pack their bags, their scores, and wait to join many other hopeful singers for the chance to get the part to sing on stage. This year will be different. We do not know what will happen with upcoming years of artistic planning. Prior to COVID, I had traveled to various cities in the US and Europe seeking work as a tenor. Some of those travel plans were interrupted by the pandemic. I hope that there will be an opportunity later to audition at the “big” houses I had on my travel schedule once things resume. Fingers crossed.

Thanks to my previous performing engagements and growing into a more experienced opera singer I have professional contacts that are casting directors in the “big” houses. Throughout the course of the shutdowns, I was sure to keep people aware that I am here and continuing to be active. I still get the replies “I have nothing for you now.” Though, there is something to be said about being persistent in the face of endless missed chances.

I also have additional training that I think could be useful in artistic administration. Now might be a good time to combine my non-music degree and work toward shaping the future of opera in the US behind the scenes.

For now, it’s time to use our voice training and BREATHE! This pandemic is hopefully a temporary hiccup in our career path. Best of luck to all aspiring singers! Continue to be the stellar voice students your teachers know you to be.

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