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My year for going viral

I don't know what I did to please the internet gods before 2012 began (hopefully it wasn't the same thing I must have done to apparently piss off the jobs-a-plenty in classical music gods), but somehow I seem to be having a lot of my internet action get a lot of attention. It started with the video I made that I thought 20 people would watch, which now has over 100,000 views, followed by the shock of winning the Spring for Music Blogger Challenge, and culminating in my most recent article for the Huffington Post spreading like wildfire. Eeee-aaaa-saaaa-naaaa-oooooooohhh. (I don't know what language the internet gods speak, so I'll just offer up a random vocal exercise and hope they like it. Or maybe that's a line from the Mikado. I can't be sure.)

The thing that inspired me to write "Shouldn't You Be Fatter (and other opera singer myths)" last week was simple. I flew to Columbus to sing some Chausson and Durufle with the excellent Columbus Symphony, and when I checked into the hotel, the very friendly desk clerk asked me, "So - you're here with the symphony? What do you play?" and when I answered that I was a singer, she replied, "Oh! I didn't know they had singers at the symphony!" It made me realize how the average person has absolutely no idea whatsoever what it is that we opera singers do, and so I started forming some sentences to explain it. I kept having to duck down to the Starbucks across the street from the hotel because I refuse to pay $12.99 a day for the privelage of having the internet in my room (Why do hotels DO THAT? Don't answer that, I know, I know. But ARGH!!) so that I could publish and edit the essay on the Huff Post website, and I was shocked when it started to go viral. But it reminded me of just how many people out there either are either professional opera singers or studying to become them, and how passionate we are about what we do. However, based on some of the less supportive comments on my article, I think we may have to all band together and start a revolution to educate people about why what we do deserves more attention and yes, even admiration! 

The funniest thing that happened to me in Columbus happened while I was waiting to go onstage before the second half of the final concert. I had spent the day following the progress of my article, and enjoying watching it fly around the world at record speed. I was feeling pretty confident about myself, although nervous for the second half of the concert to begin when a gentleman from the chorus approached me and said "Boy, with a voice like that, shouldn't you be fatter?" At first I thought he must have read my article and was having fun with me, so I asked, "Do you read the Huffington Post?" But he responded "What's that? A paper here in town?" So it was purely a coincidence that he asked me the exact question that was the title of my article the day after it was published. It really made me laugh and cut the tension I was feeling before I walked out onstage, so for that, I thank him. 

And now that I'm back in New York, I'm headed to the first of the Spring for Music concerts at Carnegie Hall tonight. I will very much enjoy being at a concert where I don't have to worry about remembering the words or projecting into the hall. And where I bet noboby will comment on my weight. :)

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Reader Comments (5)

Yes! I read this article two days and three days ago I was at a business party at my Mom's work and when she announced I was going to conservatory to study opera. A number of people came up to me after saying things like; "You need to eat more pasta." "You don't look like someone who could sing opera, but musical theatre.", and yes even "Shouldn't you be fatter." These comments kept coming and I responded to them have you seen or heard any actual opera singers? And of course their reply was "No." It frustrated me, but then again I live in small town America (Waynesville, MO)

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKrystal Nemetz

Dear Jenny, I read somewhere (here maybe?) that you are going to be singing for the Festwochen in Ibk. My question is, do you need an apartment? If you are here while I am out of town, I may be able to offer you mine.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcellina

Glad the post became so popular...gosh, it's an uphill slog with all of this. Given the high profile of all the opera-hot singers in Vanity Fair, the NYT, Met HD and on and on, I find it hard to believe that people still persist with this antiquated view of what singers look like.
On another note, I see you sang that beautiful Chausson "Poemes de l'amour etc." - such a stunning piece of music - would have loved to have heard it. It's about time we heard you here in Toronto Jenny!

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGianmarco

I am an aspiring singer in a place where there is some support for opera (a major company in town) but where about 90% of the inhabitants are woefully unaware of what opera really is. I started reading your blog a few months back and have been charmed, amused and inspired (love that youtube video, by the way - it is hysterical). When I saw how much play your article in Huffington Post was getting, I was delighted (I Facebooked it myself too). I congratulate you for your writing and everyone else for finally discovering it. And I cannot agree with you more on this particular post. We are the ambassadors of opera. Instead of turning up our noses at the sometimes silly questions we get, we need to be more patient, and willing to explain a little. When people see someone who is passionate about something, most of the time, they will be more appreciative and curious as to why. We are the champions of our art form; it is in our own best interest to educate our hometowns and make it accessible to all.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichikat

Every job has its stereotypes ! I'm not an opera singer but a young scholar, and it seems like I don't look the part either... Should I dress like a spinster or try to look older to be validated, despite my actual academic achievemnts ? I love reading your blog as even though I have nothing to do with the operatic milieu, it looks like it has a lot in common with my own small world...


May 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterisa

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