Agents Visit the Chateau
Following Mireille’s intense visit and three consecutive concerts, we woke up on Monday morning prepared to sing and work with two French opera agents. Olivier Beau and Hervé Le Guillou, our guests for the next few days, co-founded their agency, BLG Artist Management in 2007. Their visit marks the first year that CLA France has hosted agents as part of the course’s offerings, and I think that the new opportunity was a grand success.
After attending our Sunday night concert at L’eglise de Cadouin, Olivier and Hervé received a taste of what our singers are about. Glenn and Mina strategically planned the day’s schedule so that we would have our final coaching of the program shortly before our session with the agents. I found this time to be a wonderful opportunity to revisit key vocal concepts with Glenn one last time. I’ll speak more to this in the final posts, but I’ll briefly share that, as I conclude my CLA studies, I’m surprised by how much my voice has grown over this short, intensive period. I am grateful for the impactful coaching from each faculty member.
There was a bursting energy, and a bit of humor, flowing through the house, as we heard non-French music filling the rooms. The agents asked us to prepare 2-3 arias, which meant that, for the first time, we needed to prepare repertoire in other languages! Personally, I really enjoyed hearing iconic Mozart melodies floating through the hallways. This repertoire is more familiar among us than many French arias, and I witnessed (and took part in) lip-syncing and dancing as our colleagues refined their signature arias. In one of my arias, Papageno’s Suicide Aria from Die Zauberflöte, Papageno counts to three - “Eins, Zwei, Drei” as he waits for his soulmate, Papagena, to appear. During my coaching with Glenn, I heard some of my friends calling down the numbers from upstairs! I remembered these moments of levity when I was feeling slightly nervous singing for Olivier and Hervé. It was a gentle shock to sing in another language after three weeks of French intensity. I found myself doubting my German accuracy, but Johanna, a German native, assured me that my German was up to snuff.
My individual time with Olivier and Hervé was filled with kindness and wisdom. They welcomed me into a warm, casual environment, and I felt comfortable performing my arias for them. Afterwards, I enjoyed hearing their feedback. Their comments were very constructive, and I agreed with their perspective. I appreciated that they made an effort to thank me for singing and to identify specific aspects of my performance that they enjoyed. It was interesting to hear where they disagreed - for me, this addressed my decision to act out the theatrics of my Mozart aria. While Hervé recommended a simpler rendition, Olivier enjoyed the physical details that I brought to the aria. Moments like these remind me that, as a performer, I must ultimately tell the story that I feel is important to tell since it is impossible to please everyone in performance.
In addition to joining us for individual sessions, concerts, and meals, the agents presented important information about European management to the singers Tuesday morning. I was not sure what type of information would be presented and was surprised by the great breadth of topics covered. We discussed different rates of agents across countries, audition tips, lifestyle difficulties, and more. I appreciated the career advice, but, as a younger singer not yet prepared to seek out management, I resonated even more with the agents’ encouraging outlook on the life of a singer. They demonstrated a strong passion for their work, including a deep care for the singers that they represent. They stressed that an artist’s entire life should take precedence over the limited importance of furthering one’s career. Instead of pushing their artists to pursue as many engagements as possible, they encourage singers to take time for themselves, whether it is for vacation or one’s family. This is so reassuring because young singers often hear about the many sacrifices that they must make to secure a professional career. Of course, sacrifices will be, and already have been, prevalent in our artistic paths. However, it is comforting to know that there are administrators who will assist us in placing boundaries between our careers and our personal lives.
With excitement for the future, confidence in ourselves, and motivation to improve our craft, we bid a warm farewell to Olivier and Hervé.