• Zach Finkelstein

Emerging Opera Singers Now Pay for Online Auditions. Are Companies Watching Them?

Updated: Nov 12

For American opera singers starting a career, the unchecked pandemic upended the Fall audition season, forcing artists and companies to adapt. Elite apprenticeship programs (YAPs) and international competitions moved the first round of applicants entirely online. Innovative opera houses like Houston Grand Opera led the charge to ‘streamline a virtual audition process’ for YAPs, providing a baseline application for singers to apply to apprenticeships at a dozen American opera companies. Opera gatekeepers pitched the virtual audition as a safe, efficient, consistent, cheap, and equitable alternative.


This year, companies used YouTube as their audition platform. To a savvy Gen Z, a professional YouTube channel is a treasure trove of data. YouTube Analytics can help answer questions singers always wanted to ask an audition panel. Questions like, “Is anyone paying attention?”


In the context of an online audition, that means singers can learn:


1) How many people viewed my privately uploaded video, the aria that I sent to 12 different companies? Is it less than 12? Is it zero?

2) Did viewers listen all the way through? If not, how long did they listen? Did they listen to all three arias or just one? If they only listened to one, how far did they get?


Middleclass Artist, through discussions and interviews with at least 15 emerging artist singers, examined exclusive YouTube Analytics data to help answer these questions.


The data suggests that some companies rejected those singers without viewing any of their video auditions. YouTube reports also indicate that the average company isn’t considering more than a short section of those singers’ arias—the views registered by the platform last, for most, roughly a minute, less than half of one aria.


In the case studies to follow, Middleclass Artist will show that, instead of making singers' lives easier, virtual auditions proved emotionally draining, expensive, and inequitable towards those unable to afford to build a $500 home studio on short notice.


Middleclass Artist also found a silver lining in companies like Pittsburgh Opera and the Washington National Opera. Under extraordinary circumstances, these companies made significant good faith efforts to review a record number of singers.


Overall, Middleclass Artist concludes the move to virtual auditions, at best, slaps a fresh coat of paint on the same systemic challenges for less privileged young artists. At worst, it has left many singers demoralized and out thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it.

Methods: YouTube Analytics


Before reporting results, we must first define and address the challenges of YouTube Analytics as a method of proving whether a person viewed an audition.


A YouTube view is “a video playback that was requested by an actual user:” (Aggrawal et. al, 2018, p. 151.)

(2018)


Embedded videos on third-party application sites, those in this study, count towards views (2018).


Youtube Real-time view reports, those estimating views in the last 48 hours, have been reported as sometimes buggy and inaccurate. Data provided to Middleclass Artist, though, is not evaluating real-time data. The data MCA reviewed is monthly (28 days) data for rejections sent on or before November 6th with views mostly from early October to November 1st, already weeks old, for applications sent on or around October 12th.


There is some debate on how long a person must watch a video before YouTube counts a view- for ads, it is about 30 seconds, but the answer is unclear for user-generated content. Singers report views as short as eight seconds, suggesting that YouTube counts all played video clicks, but we don’t know for sure. It is possible someone who watched an audition for 10 or 20 seconds and switched to another video is not counted.


We also don’t know which company viewed what or how many companies viewed each video. If a person applied to 12 companies and reports five views on the video on different days, perhaps only one company viewed it five times, or perhaps as many as five companies viewed it.


While the research to follow is directional and not definitive, we can say for sure that the results are wildly inconsistent across singers, and we can say with a high degree of certainty that every company did not hear a selection from every singer who applied.

(A final note: We have removed identifying information from the case studies where possible at the request of the singers involved.)

Case Study: Das war sehr gut?


Our first singer is Rebecca, a 27-year old soprano with three performance degrees from top schools and experience as a junior level apprentice at a leading company. This Fall, Rebecca applied to 14 young artist programs and competitions. To prepare, she spent over $5,000 USD:

Application Fees ($194, 3.8%):


Eight of the organizations Rebecca applied to did not charge an application fee, but five did: Pensacola, Pittsburgh, and Michigan ($5 each), Tri-cities Opera competition ($50), and the Giovanni Consiglio Competition ($30). (Editor’s note: an application fee does not guarantee an audition. It pays for the application for a potential live, or in this case, second-round virtual audition. -ZF).


YAPTracker, a third-party platform, lists applications and notifications through their site. While access to emerging artist applications is free, YAPTracker charges $59 a year for artists to view and submit for other audition opportunities and is a common emerging artist expense. Rebecca purchased a two-year subscription for $99.


Equipment ($746, 14.8%):


Initially, Rebecca purchased a Yeti Nano ($99) to record herself, but the mic did not adequately show her voice's higher frequencies.


Rebecca followed the recommendations of Classical Singer magazine and purchased a mid-range mic, the JR 47 ($299) with phantom power ($39.99) and an audio interface ($257.99) to record herself, along with required accessories like a mic stand ($24.99) and an XLR cable ($25.49).


Live Recordings ($1,005, 19.9%):


After creating a home studio, she was told by a trusted industry professional that she should record with a live pianist for one elite, local audition.


On that advice, she spent an additional $150 on a pianist and $225 at one of the only open live recording studios in Chicago, ending up with a recording she reports as “horrible video and microphone quality.” A second two-hour recording for a different set of songs cost her $630, including a videographer and recording studio.


According to Rebecca, after pushing back the audition date three times, the company canceled her audition.


Coachings and Lessons ($3,100, 61%):


To prepare her music for audition season, Rebecca spent at least 10 hours of lessons with her teacher ($1,850) and at least eight hours with her lead coach ($1,250), for a total of $3,100.


Analytics and Results


Rebecca, a highly qualified applicant, did not receive a single audition.


Rebecca sent her primary aria, ‘Das war sehr gut’ (Strauss, ‘Arabella’), to 10 companies.


Her YouTube analytics show she received five views on October 4th (1), October 11th (1), and November 1st (3) for an average of 1 minute and 10 seconds per view.


Rebecca also sent her second required aria, ‘How Beautiful it is’ (Britten, ‘The Turn of the Screw’), to 10 companies. Youtube Analytics shows she received only two views on this aria, one on October 11th and one on November 1st, for an average of 56 seconds per view.


Rebecca uploaded the aria Stridono Lassù (Leoncavallo, ‘I Pagliacci’) and sent the link to only one company. According to Youtube Analytics, it received one view on November 1st, for eight seconds.

Case Study: The Second Round


Charlie, a mezzo-soprano in her 30s with a slew of professional credits, top apprenticeships, and three post-secondary degrees under her belt, submitted nine applications to audition for apprenticeships this season. It cost her a total of $1,500 USD.


“I spent months mentally and vocally preparing for this audition season. I ramped up my voice lessons from twice a month to four times a month to work up my repertoire and reached out to coaches I know across the country for virtual sessions, along with finding people in my area who were willing to meet in person to maximize my chance of success. I expended time, money, emotional energy, and potential COVID exposure, and fell behind on my actual survival job to make this happen.” -Charlie, 11/7/2020


Because she received a Shure microphone ($150) and a tripod ($30) as gifts, it cost her nothing to make home recordings.


Charlie’s additional in-person recording sessions totaled $200.


Charlie spent most of her time, energy, and money on lessons and coachings. Her lessons cost $150 a session in August and September, conducted virtually for a total of $1,200, along with three virtual/in-person mixed coaching recordings and one acting coaching, totaling $200.


Analytics and Results


Charlie won three auditions from this process. Now she must do it all over again and send a new round of video auditions with different repertoire by November 30th.


Even though she made it through to the second round on a third of her applications, her Youtube Analytics suggest that only a handful of companies watched her submitted videos.


Charlie’s first submission to nine companies, the Letter Aria from Werther, received only two views after the submission deadline, both from Yaptracker with an average viewing of a minute and 19 seconds.

(A note: In response to this article, including the charts above and others which list Yaptracker.com as a traffic source, YAPTracker denied that its website's embedded videos counted as a source for views: "embedded views on sites like ours do not link towards YouTube counters.")


Charlie’s second submission to the nine companies, Ruby’s Aria from Higdon’s Cold Mountain, received only one view that lasted one minute and 18 seconds. For reference, a recent recording of the aria by Isabel Leonard runs four minutes and 40 seconds.

The process of auditioning has left Charlie exhausted and deeply cynical about companies and the young artist process:


I had thought these consortium companies were making a good faith effort to make this audition season work for everyone: reducing or eliminating their fees, moving auditions online, allowing recorded accompaniment, etc. To then discover that after submitting nine applications, there were only two views on my videos from Yaptracker, each for about a minute?


It's shameful, disrespectful, and frankly, unethical. I had suspected that companies weren't watching complete videos before the pandemic. But to go out of their way to claim to be more accessible only to then not even watch the videos you insist you need to make these decisions? Do they not realize how much more difficult it is for us to make videos rather than audio? Not to mention during a global pandemic?” -Charlie, 11/7/2020

Your Audition Stood Out, [INSERT NAME]


Josh the tenor applied this year to COACH’s Program for the third year in a row. The program charged more than $50 to apply in previous years, a fee that covered a live audition in a major city with an accompanist. This year, The Program asked the same amount to apply for a prescreening round. The fee did not include a pianist recording.


Josh spent $1,290 purchasing the required equipment and preparing for his audition:

  • $650 for an open-box iPhone 11 for its video camera capability;

  • $270 on a Shure MV88+ microphone;

  • $70 on the boom stand and smartphone holder recommended by Opera America, along with a $25 Bluetooth speaker;

  • And a reduced “COVID rate” of 11 lessons for $275 before the new semester started to work on his audition arias.

Two days after the application deadline, Josh received his rejection letter. Within the standard form letter, Josh received an unusual piece of feedback: “COACH did, however, want to extend to you a particular note of support. Your audition stood out, and COACH looks forward to encountering you and your work in the future. COACH would like to see you audition again next Fall.”

Shortly after, he looked at his Youtube Analytics data- his videos are “brand new and unlisted, so The Program was the first and only program to receive the links.” Josh found out that “COACH, who ‘personally evaluates all auditions’ according to the website, listened to only the first 50 seconds of my aria, not even the piece I indicated as my ‘starter.’ The other two videos still have zero views.”


Josh feels angry and ashamed about his application:


“I’m particularly frustrated that I foolishly paid the regular application fee in the middle of a pandemic to potentially be advanced to a zoom audition where the panel’s commute is from their bedroom to their couch. I feel disgusted and hurt that the program director would include such a unique and “encouraging” note in my PFO, but only listened to less than one minute of one audition piece. Right now, it seems abundantly clear to me that COACH is not interested in me for anything other than my money. Where is the integrity?”

-Josh 11/7/2020

Jaclyn the soprano applied to three companies – she didn’t apply to anything that cost more than $15 because she couldn’t afford to pay the fees. YouTube reports Jaclyn received only one view on each of her two video auditions in the last 28 days:


“The video I chose for my first submission was 5:39, and they had watched 1:09. My second video was 4:47, and they had watched 48 seconds of it. The fact that there was only one view on each also tells me that two of the companies I applied probably didn’t even open my video links.” -Jaclyn, 11/7/2020


Jaclyn, like others, feels angry and cheated by the process:


“Frankly, I think charging money for video auditions is absurd. In a pandemic-induced recession that has hit artists especially hard, it’s predatory and opportunistic, especially if those companies aren’t going to fully review singers. Considering how much it costs to make a good recording and prepare for it, asking young, poor singers to give even more of their money just for the chance to get an audition seems like it borders on moral repugnance. What other field requires you to pay people money to review your application?” -Jaclyn, 11/7/2020

31-year old soprano Rachel applied to only three companies and received a rejection letter from all three. Her YouTube analytics showed not a single person viewed her private link to ‘Ain’t it a Pretty Night’:

Rachel received only one view 50 seconds long from YapTracker, for her Italian aria, ‘Come in quest’ora bruna’:

Rachel is disappointed in what she feels is an unfair process:


“I shouldn't be shocked at the rejection itself. I'm 31 and considered "past my prime," which is ridiculous. I am shocked however that no one took the time to view my materials. I thought that these new audition practices would level the playing field, but I am once again disappointed and mistaken. -Rachel, 11/8/2020

Bass-Baritone Adam, a graduate of a top summer opera program with leading roles under his belt, auditioned for 10 young artist apprenticeships this season.


His Britten aria, sent to 10 companies, was viewed five times from YapTracker for a viewing average of 49 seconds:

Adam submitted his Handel aria to four companies. The aria, ‘O Ruddier than the Cherry’, received only two views from YapTracker, an average of 14 seconds each.

Adam’s Strauss aria performed the best overall, receiving five views for an average viewing of 1 minute and 8 seconds:

According to YouTube Analytics, Adam’s Bellini aria submitted to two companies received no views.


So far, Adam received eight rejections, made it to the second round of three apprenticeships, and hasn’t heard back from two companies.


As an established bass-baritone, a much rarer voice part in young artist auditions, he considers this level of rejection unusually high. Without a master’s degree, Adam is “used to being weeded out occasionally based on resume, but not like this.” In previous years, getting cut in the first round was “the exception, not the rule.” For example, he applied to 25 companies last year, and only five didn’t hear him in the second round. “I knew this year would be weird, but these are not the margins I’m used to.”

In our final case study, Margaret, the soprano, sent 12 applications and has heard back from seven, all ‘no.’


Her first aria, sent to all 12 companies, showed five views over the last 28 days, with an average viewing time of 45 seconds:

Among all 12 companies, her second aria was viewed four times, for an average of 51 seconds a view.


Margaret’s third aria she sent to five companies was viewed three times for an average of 1 minute and 49 seconds each view.


Margaret feels that she’s singing “better than ever” but that companies took her out of the running based on “what competitions she’s won, other apprenticeships she’s done, and her age.”


Margaret says she is through “trying to color within the lines, not talking about these things and not making waves: 'This way of doing things is broken.’

The Silver Lining


Middleclass Artist tracked down eight different rejection letters sent to singers. Three of them specifically mentioned that each applicant received a complete review:


This season yielded our highest number of applicants yet, and we do take the time to thoroughly review each application.”


“Consideration was given to all areas of your application from performance to experience.”


“We considered every application carefully and were very impressed with the level of talent witnessed via video submissions this year.”


Middleclass Artist reached out to these three companies and asked them:


1) Did they watch every video from start to finish for every singer? And


2) Did they screen out any applicants based on other factors, such as resume or experience without listening to the applicant’s arias?


Two of the companies, Pittsburgh Opera and Washington National Opera, immediately responded.


Pittsburgh Opera’s Director of Marketing, Chris Cox, made it clear that, even with a 44% increase in the number of applicants this year, they watched video from every singer:


“Pittsburgh Opera received 631 applications for our Resident Artist program. This was almost 200 more than we received last year (437). We had two senior members of our artistic team (Managing Director Bill Powers and Director of Musical Studies and Chorus Master Mark Trawka) independently review each application, and then compare notes about all 631. Both Mark and Bill listened to and watched video from every singer. As you can imagine, that is a very time-consuming process. We did not screen out anyone based on resume/recommendations without listening to them.” -Chris Cox, 11/8/2020


Pittsburgh also more than doubled its number of callbacks from the previous year to match the increase in numbers, from 29 to 68 applicants.


Washington National Opera reported a record 830 applicants this year and charged no application fees. In a normal audition year, they fill over 250 audition spots from half a dozen cities. This year, they invited the same number of people to the second round to submit ‘virtual auditions.’


Robert Ainsley, the Director of the Cafritz Young Artist program at the Washington National Opera (WNO), informed Middleclass Artist he “takes its application, audition, and selection process extremely seriously.” Mr. Ainsley considers the process “his most important duty” and is conscious of the “enormous responsibility it carries for the company and for the industry as a whole.”


WNO takes extraordinary care in its audition process to make sure every singer has a fair shot and provides what Middleclass Artist considers a logical, reasonable explanation for partial listens:


“We require our applicants to submit at least three different audio and video clips, but YAPTracker allows submission of up to five audio and five video files, allowing for as many as ten different media submissions per candidate. Many candidates do submit upwards of five files, some of entire concerts or operas. With 830 applicants, it would be prohibitive to listen to the entirety of every media submission we receive, but we make a point of listening to a portion of at least three different tracks. I will often selectively listen to various portions of each aria to find out different things – how they handle a tricky coloratura passage, how they navigate certain tessituras or register shifts, how the voice functions at different dynamic levels, etc. I look through the clips to try to find them in more than one acoustic setting if possible, so that I can get the broadest possible impression of their singing (perhaps they record one video in a very resonant church, and another in their bedroom – I’d want to hear both settings to try to hear ‘through’ the different recording technology and acoustics involved).


I also read through each singer's resume and application and cross-reference my databases to see if I have heard them live in audition or screened them before. I will look at my previous notes from past screenings and live hearings to see if they have made progress or their singing has changed. The purpose of our application process is not solely to find the artists for the following season – it is to track talent across several seasons and even whole careers (I often have over 10 separate sets of notes from different hearings of the same singer, showing my impression of their singing over an entire decade or more).


The easiest and shortest screenings are those we say yes to quickly. Less immediately impressive clips are always given the benefit of the doubt and always result in looking for better examples of their work (perhaps it was a bad day, or the sound quality of the recording was poor). The more difficult the decision, the more listening I will do, which often results in listening to entire arias. Our listening is the primary element of our decision-making process – we would never screen out an applicant based on their resume (I personally love finding those "hidden gems" who have unusual paths), although a particularly impressive resume might grant a live audition if it seems to indicate more potential than we could hear in the submitted clips.


This entire prescreening process takes many hours of work, and usually takes around two full weeks to complete. While it is not infallible, we hope to keep our net as broad as possible for the next stage within the constraints of our schedule and resources. This season, owing to the pandemic, rather than undertaking a nation-wide tour, my staff and I will listen to the entirety of each ‘virtual audition’ in our next round of the process, just as we would a live audition.” -Robert Ainsley, 11/8/2020

A Way Out of Inequity


Middleclass Artist is deeply sympathetic to the companies involved in the selection of young artists for next season. These organizations are revising entire seasons on the fly, trying to make the best of a catastrophic situation. Many companies furloughed a sizeable portion of their employees, and those working there do so at reduced pay and longer hours. It’s also clear from the responses from Pittsburgh Opera and WNO that many more singers are applying to young artist programs.


The YouTube analytics data confirms what singers and their industry mentors have been saying for years: you have a brief window to make an impression. Companies, especially when faced with an unprecedented number of applications, make up their minds quickly. Our data shows that for most singers, it takes about a minute. And that same data suggests that some companies are not listening to recordings for every singer.


That begs the question: what are organizations rejecting if not the voice?


We know that they are rejecting or refusing people based on demographics like age, particularly women. At least three competitions advertised in Musical America this year, including the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition, have different age limits for men (30) than women (28).


And at least one apprenticeship application this year asked singers to justify their application in a short essay if they were over the age of 30:

While Middleclass Artist can’t say with certainty companies reject singers based on CVs or schools attended, we know that companies advance singers underperforming relative to the field to the second round based on their resume. We know this because WNO told us:


“A particularly impressive resume might grant a live audition if it seems to indicate more potential than we could hear in the submitted clips.”


Middleclass Artist understands this commonsense position- of course, a company should give an applicant a closer look if they have already shown they can do the job at a high level elsewhere. You want to hire a sure thing with experience in the industry. A hiring manager at Facebook should consider a prospective hire with Apple on their resume carefully, even if that person stumbles through the first phone interview.


Unfortunately, this commonsense strategy is a disaster for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the opera industry. Because we also know, from recent research by Lindberg and Pitts on Middleclass Artist, that more than 3-in-4 apprenticeships at small opera companies, the first jobs available to young singers, do not pay a living wage.

(Lindberg and Pitts, Middleclass Artist, June 2020)


We expect opera singers to graduate with a master’s degree, take on tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, and spend thousands a year on auditions to land entry-level apprenticeships that pay nothing. Those who can afford to work for nothing are given a second look for the jobs that, finally, pay something. And we know that, disproportionately, the people able to sustain that are economically privileged and white.


One soprano Andrea, who spent over $500 on recording equipment this audition season and whose first aria, according to YouTube Analytics, was viewed for an average of 38 seconds, summed it up succinctly:


“Advancing singers to the next rounds based solely on their resumes, where they went to school, and who they may know continues to perpetuate the elitist and exclusionary YAP system. It does nothing to further the careers of those who may not have had a laundry list of opportunities but might be incredibly talented and deserving of an opportunity. In our ongoing efforts to make opera more diverse, inclusive, and equitable, the current application process seems to be falling short.” Andrea, 11/8/2020


How do we fix this? How do we make the YAP-industrial complex more equitable, ensuring every singer receives fair consideration, when the more barriers companies break down, the more singers apply?


The industry can solve this in three steps:


1) the elimination of all transaction costs to audition;


2) a minimum standard fee at the bottom of the industry that pays a living wage after expenses; and


3) an increase in transparency and clarity of intent from agenda-setting companies at the top.


Elimination of Transaction Costs


Companies must first eliminate the costs essential to virtual auditioning outlined in this article.


A reduction of application fees is a good start, but if you want to attract a diverse pool of candidates, application fees must end. (Kudos to WNO for leading on this.) Yes, companies are struggling. But we do not expect ushers handing out programs at concerts to pay for the printing costs. In a just industry, we should not force the necessary expenses of doing business, such as travel, on applicants, or charge fees for staff and administrators' time spent on audition panels. That time is already paid for in full-time salaries approved by their respective boards.


The set-up costs for virtual auditions, including live or recorded piano accompaniment, a smartphone, “optional” audio/visual equipment like microphones and DAWs, can cost hundreds of dollars that young singers just don’t have.


Companies must pay for them.


Houston Grand Opera spearheaded a 12-company consortium to ease the process for singers. Why not coordinate to share the cost and rent out equipment to applicants? Each company would pay for about 100-200 applicants to produce a recording. It is an enormous cost in an uncertain time, yes, but split 12 ways across a few thousand applicants. If industry gatekeepers make it a priority, it’s a possibility.


Organizations like the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which provided singers with a pianist free of charge to record arias for both the District and Regional rounds, are on the right track. (Editor’s note: Find a pianist of color and pay them to record all your auditions. Felix Jarrar is one such pianist.)


When live recordings are safe again, companies could significantly reduce everyone's costs by sharing their rehearsal halls as recording studios, as well as the cost of recording engineers and pianists, in each of those 12 cities across America.


That is the table stakes for an equitable applicant pool.


A living wage at the bottom


But applicants still won’t rise to the top without entry and mid-level apprenticeships paying a living wage. Summer and year-long apprenticeships have a moral obligation to pay performing artists fair wages. $125 a week isn’t going to cut it:

(Anonymous Opera Saratoga Contract, 2018)


Under the new YAP system with no transaction costs and higher entry-level wages, these early apprenticeships will likely be the hardest hit in terms of increased applicant pools relative to the size of their budget.


For it to work, companies must streamline their applications. A small administrative staff cannot manage 1,000 applications under the current system without introducing implicit bias in gatekeeper shortcuts such as a preference for elite institutions, advanced (and unaffordable) post-graduate degrees, influential teachers and coaches, and the advantage of early performance opportunities.


The application could be simple: one round, two minutes of audio excerpts, and a one-page CV with a headshot. The company could provide three 30-second excerpts with piano tracks from shows planned for that season or arias highlighting specific required skills, such as legato and coloratura, along with a vocal warmup and a spoken exercise for performed languages. Applicants would send back home recordings on smartphones with donor subsidies for recording singers showing significant financial need.


Th early YAP phase would be all about the voice, with the focus on training. Allowances would be given for less privileged singers to catch up on soft skills like diction and stagecraft through additional (free) coachings and lessons. Allowance would be given to late starters, who did not have the privilege of graduating from an MM at 22. Companies would be investing in singers’ development for the long-term, and singers would return the favor, providing cheap secondary roles and audience outreach.


Transparency and Clarity at the Top


Once the early-mid level YAP pipeline is more equitable, the top can genuinely be the top instead of just another rung back to the middle. We can treat it like a specialized job, such as a lawyer’s clerkship to be done once, with higher wages and benefits, a track for experienced applicants, and preferred qualifications listed upfront.


Companies need to get granular.


Suppose a company wants to hire a soprano with 5-7 years of stage experience, fluency in the language, and experience performing the role. In that case, it needs to say that up-front in the preferred qualifications.


If the company’s specialty is Verismo opera and they favor a specific repertoire and voice type, say that up-front.


If the company knows some singers are returning and there are, say, no openings for soprano or specific roles are pre-cast by returning singers in a summer opera, say that up-front.


If companies think an 18-year old leading character should be played by someone under the age of 30, say that up-front.


If companies think a Master’s degree in performance is critical to a performance career and a mainstage role requirement, say that up-front.


Singers can handle rejection. What is crushing them emotionally and financially, and the reason they apply to every company with the word Opera in the title is the lack of transparency about what companies want.

With companies willing to pivot in extraordinary ways -revise entire seasons to create more equitable ones, create a TV network from scratch dedicated entirely to opera, or transform Wagner operas in parking garages- we know change is possible at the highest levels.


We must find a way forward together to ensure equitable hiring of emerging artists.


By eliminating transaction costs, paying a living wage in early apprenticeships, and increasing transparency for higher-paying ones, organizations that hire young artists have a historic opportunity to reset the board and to eliminate systemic inequity.


Only then can we can give artists a fair viewing.


-ZF



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