Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Mechanics of Inspiration

A reader over at OperaRox asked me: Who or what inspires you the most to do what you love?

I love this question!  There are so many ways to answer this, so it might take me a little while to get all my thoughts out.

To start, I'm not really sure if the reader is asking what inspires me to sing opera or what inspires me to pursue the things that I love (which happens to include opera, of course).  I think that both are very important questions, so I'll be sure to cover everything.

It's not always easy to have the courage to pursue what you love and, in my case, it was especially risky since music isn't a surefire job market in any sense.  Also, there's sometimes a certain stigma associated to pursuing a career in the arts -- some people don't think it's a "real" job.  That is (of course!) nonsense, but it's something that I confronted when I decided to pursue music.  I went to college for book publishing, but I changed my major to music during orientation.  On the car ride home from orientation, I told my father about my decision and he didn't say anything.  Instead, he laughed for five minutes straight.  In his defense, he has since drastically changed his mind and is extremely supportive, but it took a while.  However, disbelief or skepticism is the general reaction when I say that I want to make a living in opera.  There are so many obstacles and factors involved with a career in opera, so I guess that I can understand some of the skepticism.  Needless to say, I need a lot of inspiration to keep me strong.

The things that first inspired me to pursue opera were my overwhelming love for music and the works of the great composers.  These remain two of the greatest driving forces that inspire me to sing opera and create music.  There's nothing like a little Mozart or Massenet or Strauss to get me going.  If there's ever a doubt in my mind, I just sit and watch Le nozze di Figaro and it all comes rushing back to me.  The love that I have for music nearly overwhelms me at times.  If I tried to cut it out of my life, I'd have a very hard time getting through.

Another great source of inspiration is other artists.  I love listening to the greats, the currents, and the up-and-coming.  Every artist has something to offer and I try to get something out of every performance.  I have been inspired sitting alone in my room, listening to Fassbaender or Callas or Hampson and I have been inspired sitting in a live concert, listening to other students like myself.  There is inspiration everywhere.  I also love to listen to instrumentalists and to watch dancers -- all art inspires me in new ways and I just love to soak it all in.

But besides music and art itself, the people in my life are the greatest force of inspiration to me.  In the beginning, I wasn't sure that I should pursue opera, but people encouraged me.  My mother has always pushed me to chase the things that I love.  Both of my parents have done everything in their power to help me become what I want to be.  I've also been blessed with awesome friends and family who support me and cheer me on.  Teachers have helped me immensely along the way, giving me resources and help when I most needed it.  There have been so many people who have deposited hope and love into my life and they inspire me more than I could ever express.

My curious reader, I hope that answers your question!  Since I think that I should be more specific, I'm going to make a few lists.  These are by no means extensive, but they'll give you an idea.  :)

Most Inspirational (to me!) Composers
J. S. Bach
R. Strauss
R. Schumann

Most Inspirational Singers
Brigitte Fassbaender
Maria Callas
Cecilia Bartoli
Vesselina Kasarova
Joyce DiDonato
Susan Graham
Marilyn Horne
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Christa Ludwig
Renee Fleming

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