For years I have been honing my craft as an opera singer. I have been training, spending hours in the practice rooms, and channeling my free time and my savings into refining my voice. During these past 5 years, with a master’s degree in hand, I was on an almost complete performing hiatus. Refining my technique became my main priority, so I only performed small self-produced concerts and kept myself away from the audition circuit. Although I continued to treat my practice time and my vocal progress as an integral part of my life, I had difficulty calling myself an opera singer. When I was introduced to people at a party or event, I grimaced when I heard the words “this is Marissa Bloom. She’s an opera singer.” I dreaded the inevitable question “where are you performing?” knowing that it would lead to a painful explanation of the fact that I haven’t performed in years and that I am spending time incubating. I felt I couldn’t identify myself as an opera singer without being a “successful” opera singer. I feared the looks of confusion and the rolling eyes as I struggled to explain that you can be a devoted singer without currently performing. I hid my talent and my dedication because I didn’t want to have to prove myself.
This past summer, I had an eye-opening experience while performing at the Napa Music Festival. Amongst all of the full time singers, I felt nervous and out of place. I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up to their experience or vocal ability. My old fears and insecurities flooded back in during the first “sing in” event. My nerves and fears caused my voice to seize up and my abdominal to tighten, and I performed far below my usual ability. I knew something had to change, so I volunteered to teach morning yoga classes to anyone who wanted to join me. Each day I connected to my fellow singers and faculty members. I shared my knowledge with them and was reminded that we all have something to offer…myself included. Suddenly, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Each day of the program, I found more freedom in my voice and more comfort in my abilities. All of this growth culminated in my musical monologue performance of Julia Child’s cooking show: “Bon Appetit” by Lee Hoiby. You can view the performance at marissabloom.com. That night, I just sang. With no need to prove myself, I allowed myself to be fully in the moment and let my voice and my character out. It was the best night of my life. The standing ovation and the kindness of my fellow singers at the end of the performance brought me to tears. I finally felt strong enough to identify myself as an opera singer. It wasn’t the successful performance that brought this change of heart; it was the growth in my own self-confidence and a newfound belief in myself that altered my life.
This past year, though my voice has made drastic improvements, I still have only performed in a handful of programs. Yet, I hold my head up high and proudly identify myself as an opera singer. The more I believe in myself, the more success I find. It seems that the only person holding me back was myself. I look forward to what this next summer with the Napa Music Festival holds and to the 2015-2016 audition season. Whether or not I find more performance opportunities, when I am next introduced as an opera singer, I will smile and share my passion, my experience, and my love of the craft, regardless of if I have a performance to invite them to. What passion are you hiding? Be brave. Be yourself. Find your passion. The world is waiting!
#journeytohandstand challenge day 13: handstand.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -H. Thurman.