One of my fairly new followers asked me recently if I had ever written a post about the journey which got me to this little cottage in the North. Of course the blog has been an online journal of that journey over the last 10 or so months, so there is no real individual post about it, so I thought that, despite the possibility of boring you all, I would say a little more about me and how I end up here. Sorry if it is a bit long and rambling, but I won’t be at all offended if you get bored and can’t be bothered to read on much! It is a long post, so I have decided to split it over a few days. First part is a little bit more about me and what I do.
As some of you may know if you’ve read enough of my comments, I have the rather unusual job of being an opera singer. I am, by no means, famous in this field of work, but I am moderately successful, which means basically that I have never had to do anything else to earn my money (except a brief stint as a personal shopper for Tesco when money was tight a few years ago) and that I have only had to accept decent solo parts rather than going into a chorus (which surprisingly pays better than solo work, but which gives less satisfaction). I come from a musical family (mother is a piano teacher, sister is an opera singer) and it was inevitable that I would do music in one form or another, so I got a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when I was 18 (20 years ago) to study piano and soon swapped to first study singing because my voice was ok. When I graduated with a first, I got regular work singing small roles with opera companies and eventually moved onto bigger roles. It may surprise you to learn that an opera singer really doesn’t earn very much (unless you are Kiri te Kanawa). Our time is paid for by performance and the months of rehearsals are done for as little as £300. Yes, that is £300 a month working Monday to Saturday! We are supposed to make up for that when we start the performances. I say supposed to. I have never earned more than £17,000 gross in one year and that was a good year.
The thing about my job is, is that I come in contact with enormous amounts of serious wealth and enormous amounts of waste. At first it was exciting to be at after performance ‘do’s’ that had cost thousands, to be involved in enormously expensive productions. But soon reality takes over and you begin to realise that money should not be wasted like this. To give an example, a few years ago there was a production of an opera that had 2 fully automated animals in it (don’t ask). A big cow and a big horse. Each one had moving mouth, eyes, eyelids tails and feet. And each one cost in the region of £25,000. On the dress rehearsal, the director decided he didn’t like the horse and it was scrapped. Yes, I mean chucked out and never used in a single performance. In the bin. That sort of thing makes me sick (and goes towards the reason why opera tickets are so expensive). Anyway I digress (told you it may be rambling)
The wealth of people who don’t have a clue how ‘real’ people live became a bit sickening to me, although it was a long and slow waking up process. At first I was as guilty as the next person for wanting more, wanting to emulate the lifestyle and spending more than I had, getting myself in debts. But something was changing in my life and in my attitude towards money. Maybe I was growing up or maybe I was just becoming the person I was meant to be.
Will post part 2 tomorrow.