Age is a crazy thing in the opera music business. People lie about their ages constantly in an attempt to appear younger than they are (if their resumes are less than stellar and they need more time to fill it) or to appear older than they are (less likely, but it happens if their resumes have a lot of young artist programs but their voices are still bigger than their ages.) This past month I’ve been asked twice how old I was. Not in an application, but just out of the blue by music professionals. The sad thing is, I found myself hesitating. Do I tell them the truth? Do I say that I’m turning 30 in a month? Or do I stick with the stock answer given to me during a music business course in college–saying you’re 29 for as long as you can get away with it. Of course, I told the truth and no one thought badly of me for nearing the next decade in my life, but the fact that the question even gave me pause is something to think about.
First of all, why should it matter what my age is? If I look the part, if my voice is in order, if I can honestly portray the role physically, it shouldn’t matter if I am 16 or 60. Different people show their ages at different rates, so shouldn’t we be allowed to be honest about how long we’ve spent on this earth? If they didn’t think I was 30, does it really matter what it says on my birth certificate? It shouldn’t, but unfortunately it does. Ageism is a really problem in the opera world with everyone looking for the next big star…and the younger the better. Many of my colleagues have experienced this ageism firsthand stating that they lost jobs simply because they were in their 40’s and the audition panel wanted “fresh” new faces. It’s disheartening, to be sure, and it does make you sit and wonder if a little white lie is warranted to help you keep your job.
I, however, have decided to embrace the celebration of my 30th rotation around the sun with a new challenge. Many people have a bucket list of things they want to do before they turn 30. Mine included many things that will be unattainable such as singing on the Met Opera House stage and playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway (guess I’ll push these things back to my 40th. 😉) Instead of going for this bucket list approach, I’ve decided to list 30 reasons I am GRATEFUL to be turning 30. Society and the media brainwash us to believe that it all goes downhill once you leave your 20’s, but I beg to differ. I think 30 is going to be fabulous…
My challenge starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!