As the author of a book on business networking, I network a lot and speak to a lot of different people. Strangely, it creates a lot of confusion when I reveal I’m also an opera singer – as if “businesswoman” and “opera singer” were mutually exclusive. But isn’t business art? I think it is. The great business people out there are great artists. Creating a great business is definitely an art.
I’m often asked about my favourite opera roles. I think I have favourites to listen to and favourites to sing. My favourite roles to sing are of the “less happier disposition”, I’d say. I’m not really thrilled by singing about flowers and other plants. To do the singing well I have to feel it first.
I’ve been praised for “dying well” and I make people cry a lot. I think you can only do death scenes in one way – the way that connects with the hearts and the tear ducts. When my audience sit there devastated when the lights go up, I know I’ve done a good job.
Composers make sopranos die for many reasons. As Traviata and Mimi, I die of consumption. As Lady Macbeth, I have my conscience replay my very bad decisions. Honour and love are behind Butterfly’s death. The consequences of a stupid crime and vacuous life kill Manon. Tosca gets a fatal lesson in jealousy.
You can easily see that I never get bored.
The other misunderstanding is that opera is allegedly exclusive. It think this is because of the costs of a properly produced show rather than the music itself. The music is gorgeous. Listen to Suor Angelica. Or hum “The Drinking Song”. And if you’re feeling cheeky, “La donna e mobile” will do nicely.
The stories, with the exception of Early Music, are full-blooded stories often based on best-selling books.
In my concerts, I always talk the audience through the set-up. It makes no sense to just listen to a pretty tune. Opera is drama. Understanding what’s going on helps you feel the music better.
The surprising thing about networking and opera is how many times I’ve met trained opera singers who are also lawyers, landscape gardeners, sheep farmers or accountants. Not many admit it off-the-cuff. It doesn’t seem to “go down well with business people”.
Which brings me to my conclusion: it’s time to change our perception.
Beatrice Freeman is an award-winning speaker and an operatic soprano. This is a rare combination that makes opera more accessible to wide audiences. To book Beatrice for your event, please go to the Contact Box. You can also contact her agents UK Live Entertainment or Blank Canvas Entertainment.