“Young soprano Elizabeth Gentner…has a supple, full-bodied voice perhaps better suited for a larger venue, but displayed a confidence and command of comedy unusual in a performer at such an early stage in her career.” ~Kathleen Whalen, Daily Republic Correspondent
In case you don’t already know, the Kickstarter campaign was a success!!!
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed in order to make The Opera Performers’s Guide to Auditioning in Europe a reality. I appreciate your help so much and I look forward to sharing this experience with you!
I am Elizabeth Gentner and I am an Opera Singer.
Opera is more than a passion for me it is a calling. It is so rare to be given a gift of talent that transforms your life. Even more rare, is for that gift to have the ability to change the lives of others. Performing for an audience is the great joy of my life. Not only is it a rush, but it is also a privilege to share who I am and what I care about with an audience. I get to take these ancient stories and make them current, bringing characters from history to life through music.
Opera is much more than just the ability to sing. It takes a great deal of study, practice and dedication. Not only does a performer need to know and perform the notes, but also to understand why the notes were written in the first place. On top of that, the performer needs to communicate all of the emotion, plot and historical context within the confines of the composer’s score solely through the powers of the human body. I am a performer who loves all of the history and tradition of opera and honors that in performance. I can, at the same time, make these works of art relevant today for a live audience. I feel very passionately that opera can provide the ultimate audience experience. However, the opera sphere has lost its accessibility over the years. My goal as an opera performer is, once again, to unite the universal human experience with the opera experience
In order to accomplish that goal, I have to be heard. The upper echelon of opera executives have to hear and see what I am capable of. I also feel that I have an incredible opportunity to help those who will follow in my footsteps, pursuing opportunities abroad. That’s why I decided to pursue this project: to use myself as a case study to help others who will follow in their pursuits, as well.
Opera has been my life’s work and all of the practice and study I have done have awarded me the privilege of performing some of my favorite roles such as Violetta in La Traviata. However, it is time to move to the next level. In Europe there are more opportunities than in the States – more opera houses, more classical concerts. I believe that this is my way in, my opportunity to be a success. In order to take advantage of the opportunities across the Atlantic, this summer I am going on an audition tour to sing for as many opera companies and agents as I am able in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I have already bought the plane ticket and I am currently contacting agents and scheduling auditions.
Going to Europe to sing has long been a dream of mine. But the time for me to go is now. My craft is in a good place, I do not have any contractual obligations, and I am financially flexible. While terrifying and thrilling all at once, it is time for me to lay everything I have on the line for the sake of what I have worked so hard to achieve.
More importantly, however, this will allow me to produce a how-to guide that will help many others like me, and hopefully begin a dialogue that I believe can foster interest in going abroad among more people. At the first stage of planning this tour I had trouble knowing where to begin because there is no guide – no formalized place to start looking, no best practices. I realized that if I was going to do this I was going to have to figure it out all on my own. So that is what I’m going to do. Since I’m not a fan of reinventing the wheel, I’m going to catalog what works and what doesn’t, so that other singers can learn from my experience and have a place to start. Ultimately, I am going to collect all of the lessons-learned and create an e-book to help other singers navigate to success in European opera.
Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of The Opera Performer’s Guide to Auditioning in Europe.
Changing the status quo of opera for the audience involves working with and changing the minds of the people who make decisions. I am committed to being an agent of that change and I ask you to support my efforts to make opera universal again.
I am a swimmer. I’m not the fastest in the world, but I am strong and steady in the water. Water is a source of strength and calm for me.
On the average bad day, my remedy can usually be found in an hour of laps. When I haven’t been to the pool in more than a couple days I become…let’s go with cranky.
Water provides you with a natural buoyancy (i.e. unless you’re doing something weird, you float). To swim, you simply allow the water to keep you afloat while your extremities propel you forward.
I, honestly, get a little caught up on the propelling forward concept. Trying to go faster, pushing to the next level. I often see new swimmers fighting the water to catch the next breath. This really isn’t the best (or fastest) way to swim. Allowing the water to do the work for you is always better. This concept is difficult especially when you are racing a clock or trying something new.
I was working on teaching my niece the concept of floating, during a family vacation. She kept worrying that she was going to sink. Every time her brow creased with concern, every time her stomach contracted with doubt she started to sink. I stopped for a bit and played in shallower water for a while. I asked her, “Do you like the water?” and got a big, excited nod.
“Can I tell you a secret? I love the water, it’s my happy place! Will you let me show you why?” I put her up on the side and laid back to float, closed my eyes and just breathed in and out. When I got up, I asked her what she thought. “Is that how a mermaid sleeps?” she asked. I hope mermaids sleep like that, and after the demonstration floating seemed a lot easier for her.
There can be all kinds of struggles at the surface. The best remedy is to stop. Float. Feel the power of the water supporting me holding me, lifting me and revel in it. While going with the flow is important, what buoyancy really does is lift me up when I stop struggling against fear.
Flailing and fighting won’t help when I am in over my head and as often as I find myself there, I should know. I just have to remember to take a deep breath, relax and float. It’s time to let my natural buoyancy take me to the top.
Well the auditions are coming in, slowly but surely!
Last on the schedule, but definitely not least: Oper in Berg Festival, Grand Voci Competition in Salzburg Austria
This will be my final audition on this tour! It has high stakes both in Euros and in Opportunities. Besides the traditional first, second, third prizes there are also a number of performance prizes. Should I win one of these, for example, I would be cast to do Pamina in The Magic Flute in Salzburg! In addition, a long who’s who list of important people in Austrian opera will be in attendance. They will all be in one place either as judges or watching for their next soprano.
Part of the great advantage to being over in Europe for this duration is that by the time I step out onto the stage for this competition, I’ll have been auditioning on a regular basis in Europe for months. These opportunities are reason that your contributions are so important! If you haven’t looked at the Kickstarter campaign the link is here.
Thank you so much for your support, it means the world to me!
Well, here we go. I’ve got 90 days left to get everything ready. I’ve got a flight and really not much else.
Today, I got a major chunk of the “day job” completed. Those chunks aren’t exactly the glorious part of all of this, however, it certainly helps with financing.
I created a countdown clock it should be on the website soon!
Just so that I can see the seconds ticking away…
I think it is going to help me avoid the pesky pitfall of procrastination.
I also drafted several letters (in German) to send off to various agents in Germany. That’s the exciting part! Sending those letters off starts to help solidify the concrete details of this trip! How many auditions can I fit into 103 days? How many agents? How many cities? How many countries?
I’m about to find out.