BLOG REVIVAL, GO. I truly wonder what percentage of blogs never make it past the 1-post mark. I'd venture half. But NOT THIS ONE! (Small victories, am I right?)
So my big news is that this fall I'll be starting a fest contract in Passau, Germany. That means I'm hired full-time by a theater! This really was my dream in coming to Germany in the first place, so I feel pretty fortunate to have landed something in my first year. It means I'll have some relative stability, both financially and career-wise. (No more anxiety from withdrawing from my ever-dwindling savings! Just kidding—that anxiety probably never ends.) I will have the opportunity to learn about the German theater system and perform multiple nights a week on a regular basis. Not to mention being able to speak German on a regular basis, which is actually kind of difficult in Berlin. Really it feels like a gift has been given to me.
A little clarification on the German system of hiring singers. It's vastly different from how it works in the States, which is essentially based on freelancing—contracts are for a single production in a given house. In Germany (and on a smaller scale, Austria and Switzerland) the opera houses hire singers to perform in all the house's productions in an entire season. This is called singing on a fest, or "fixed," basis, presumably because you're fixed in one location for an extended period of time. In the opera world you'll hear singers talk about getting a fest contract, or in German Festvertrag, and that's what this means. This kind of system doesn't exist anywhere outside of the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland).
Freelancing does still exist in Germany, and not all singers are "fest" singers. In fact, many make careers out of what's called "guesting," which is essentially freelancing. (The term guesting just means "to work as a guest in a theater where a singer is not contracted as a fest singer.") It happens when a house needs to find someone who can perform a particular role that, for whatever reason, the house lacks. Sometimes it's for a specialized "fach," or voice type, that requires unique vocal qualities or abilities, like a Wagnerian singer, for instance. It's good to find your niche!
So, my hope is to be able to share some of my experience discovering this new world. I'm painfully aware that I'm a naive fool when it comes to singing in Germany, but I'm trying to embrace the notknowingness of it all. We all begin somewhere, and there's something beautiful about being in that liminal space. So, for now, I look forward to a wonderful new life in Passau, which by the way is a stupid beautiful little Bavarian town. It's called the Dreiflüssige Stadt ("Three River City") because it sits at the confluence of the Inn, Danube, and Ilz Rivers. Postcard-worthy, to say the least.