Down time. Or not?

So here comes the perpetual worry of being a freelancer.

Is this my last job? Will I ever work again?!

Ok. Perhaps not quite so dramatic as that. But it doesn’t seem uncommon to me, that when you accept a short-term contract (opera or otherwise), there is a moment or two of panic about what comes next at the end. I think that’s normal. But perhaps it doesn’t have to feel so negative if we accept it as part and parcel of our jobs. That actually, not always having the next thing to rush into can be a good thing?

We finish our run of Carmen this Sunday. It has been such fun and forced my summer to be incredibly busy. My German has improved (though I have MUCH more to learn) and it’s been great meeting and working with new colleagues and friends. It’s over on Sunday, so what happens next? At first I found the thought a bit daunting. I felt bad for not having another opera or performance to do immediately. Does this make me no good? It occurred to me about two weeks ago that my diary was looking horribly, horribly empty when I turned the pages into September. But, I have a recital and a Messiah to prepare for, auditions and competitions to do so I need to be working on a lot of repertoire. I knew I would still feel busy so the diary didn’t look so depressing when I decided to be rational. I was actually really, really, looking forward to a wonderful quiet month or two in Autumn to put my nose to the grindstone and fill that free time with study and preparation!

Filled with joy though I was about this, it hasn’t worked out as an empty diary after all.

The thing about a contract ending, is that cliche; it’s actually another door opening. I have just this week accepted the opportunity to go to Israel and sing a Bach Matthew Passion with the same group that I have been doing Carmen with. I had been planning on returning to the Bel Canto Bella Voce master class series in Vienna to work on repertoire preparation, which is occurring at the same time. And whilst gutted not to be there, working in Israel should be fun too! So the first two weeks of October are full touring cities including Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Then, this morning I enrolled at a language school starting on Monday. Now the first three hours of every day are full of German fun for the next month. On top of all this I have to fit in my teaching and part-time finance job. Oh, and learn all that repertoire mentioned above.

Where has my study time gone?! I have gone from panicking about not having anything to do, to once more not having time to do anything.

I think the skills of being a freelancer have to include making your own work (of course), but also then trusting that it will come. From the amount of preparation you put in, more work is spawned. Down time is not down time to be depressed and worry about ‘the career’, it’s the time to ask yourself what is important to you and what you want to do more of. Investing more in German is important to me. I find it incredibly frustrating not being able to say what I want to say, and I am quite preoccupied with getting the German grammar right. So I’m doing another month language course to rectify that. It’s also really important that I present myself well for the performances that are coming up in a month or two so I don’t really have any down time at all.

Pavarotti was quoted (I’ve seen the youtube clip) as stating that the secret to his success is, “Concentrazione, concentrazione, concentrazione”. I think I would like to add “Preparazione, preparazione, preparazione” to the Maestro’s ethos…

What are you thinking?

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