In our Finding Your Path series, members and friends of the site share their experiences from their particular perspective on our field (and we all have a different point of view!). We often receive questions from European singers who have found the site and are wondering whether we post opera auditions and programs appropriate to them, both geographically and in terms of specified restrictions; in our latest Finding your path interview, we reached out to one of our newer European members, Ingeborg Børch, to ask what she thinks thus far.
Ingeborg Børch has a degree from the Royal Danish Opera Young Artists Programme and a PG Dip from Royal Academy of Music in London. She has performed with both the Royal Danish Opera and the Funen Opera, and in 2010 she was awarded the “Léonie Sonning Music Award Scholarship” and the “Richard Wagner Stipendiumstiftung Scholarship.” More information can be found on Ingeborg's website.
How long have you been a member of YAP Tracker?
A bit under a year.
How did you find out about the site?
Googling words like “competition Italy opera” etc.
Where are you based and where are you in your career (your experience level)?
I am a recent graduate from the Royal Danish Opera’s Young Artists Programme. I was incredibly lucky to have a wonderful role as the prostitute “Maria” in Piazzollas Tango opera “Maria de Buenos Aires” to start with. As for experience I only just graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Opera in May 2011 but consider myself quite experienced already. I always tried to get auditions and work also during training despite several people silently disapproving in a well-meant way...! It is becoming more common for schools to encourage their students to - within a reasonable degree - work during their studies but when i began at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 2000 it was very controversial to have a full time job at a theatre in the evening. I agree that people should focus on their studies but one should never underestimate the importance of experience and contacts so you have somewhere to turn when you are one in 50 newcomers.
Were you concerned about whether the site would work for you, based on your geographic region of interest? What, if anything, helped you decide to give it a try?
How did you find out about opportunities in Europe before using YAP Tracker?
I randomly googled words of interest and asked around....but it’s really difficult to “know dirt from cinnamon” as a Danish expression says. It means that often you don’t know what anything is until you tried it. With YAP Tracker you at least get a sense that there is something there.
Are there resources for European singers that you use besides YAP Tracker that you find helpful?
There is a page http://www.liricamente.it/ which is good fun - It’s all in Italian though so one would have to understand the language in order to find anything useful. But it’s nowhere near as organized as yours and most of the things I find, you have already found as well ;o)
What sort of opportunities have you applied to after finding them through our site, and do you have any success stories to share?
Oh yes! I actually won a prize twice which means two out of two....guess I was lucky but of course it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone. What’s so wonderful about Italian competitions is that they seem to have this amazing openness towards singers who are A: Not exactly spring chickens so here’s a chance to do all the competitions you would be too old for in other countries and B: The repertoire you bring for one competition can be really varied. Whilst in Germany you have to sing a very specific “Fach” in order to even be considered for a job, you can sing whatever as long as it is opera in Italy. I have often wondered how this can be and I drew kind of a conclusion: Maybe Italians embrace diversity thanks to Maria Callas who sang virtually every fach/role during her career. I feel that in Italy being able to sing for example both coloraturas and the more lyric stuff within the same performance is considered a strength rather than a weakness. This is where I went and what I won: 3rd prize “1st Concorso Internzionale per Cantanti Lirici Augusto Zabaroni” in Napoli, Italy and “Concorso Internazionale per Cantanti Lirici Città di Alcamo”, Sicily.
Have any of those experiences led to other opportunities or furthered your career in any way?
Yes - a performance at Canto festival in Amandola, Italy. I went with all of my friends from the comp. in Alcamo (luckily we all were in the final back then :o) I have also been asked to stay in touch and let people know if I should come around, then they’ll arrange a concert!
Any advice to your fellow European members on how they can get the best out of YAP Tracker?
Find out what you think you would like to do - and choose the ones you really think are a good fit. There are on this forum so many options that it can seem like “aaaaargh, I have to go EVERYWHERE possible....!!!!” But remember that most competitions run every year so there’s always a chance to do it next year. And when you decide, just do it and don’t be afraid - go for it! My advice would be: YAP Tracker gives you a perfect overview of the possibilities - but always go to the competitions webpage to find out more.
Any advice for YAP Tracker on how to make our service even better for European singers?
It never actually occurred to me until NOW that the page is “Not European” :o) I have of course noticed that there are loads of competitions in The States but it’s a huge place so haven’t given it much thought and it definitely did not in any way put me off. I think either you have the urge/wish to explore or you don’t - and you find the things that fit your goals.
Any advice you can share for North American singers looking to work in Europe (or specifically in Scandinavia)?
Very often if one has won any prize in any international comp. they allow people to go directly to the semifinal which can be priceless if you come from afar and don’t have much money for a longer stay. And the one thing that I think is most important, aside from the competition, at least for me: TALK TO PEOPLE! Find the ones that you feel comfortable with and don’t be afraid to mingle. Often one has this kind of radar being attracted to the ones you will potentially like and the odds are it will be mutual. I am shy from nature but taught myself how to get on with loads of other people. It feels so nice when - despite the fact you are in a foreign country in a foreign town with total strangers - to have someone you can hang out with in the time you are there. It gives you a sense of security and a feeling that the world isn’t really that big. And it is imperative, even in a competitive environment to be able to be one self, otherwise it gets terribly lonely. Looking back at the past year, my strongest memories are not the moment on stage when I got my prize with everyone cheering; it is the walks in the forests with a lovely bunch of people, it’s laughing our heads of over all kinds of stuff from the flirty bartender to the horrific bathroom facilities, it’s the late nights in the hotel lobby sharing stories and the local cheap red wine you smuggled in. It’s, in other words, everything that involves those beside yourself. Because after all, without the others you would never have come here in the first place ♥