Who Are We?
Hi! We’re Jenny and Ross, a professional operatic soprano/tenor husband & wife team living in New York City with our two small boys.
Why Do We Want to Go to Germany?
Jenny specializes in German coloratura and Ross specializes in Wagner. We want to go to the birthplace of the music we sing, to immerse ourselves in the language and style, to collaborate with and learn from colleagues for whom this repertoire is second nature, to become more than just great – to become masters of this music.
We also want performing opportunities. There aren’t enough opera productions in this country in general and there are pitifully few opportunities to sing Wagner. In the 2010-2011 season, there were 1900 operatic performances across our country. That’s in a country of 3.79 million square miles and 313 million people. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the same time period, there were 10,000 performances. Five times the number of performances in 5% of the area and one third the people. The figures for performances of Wagner are equally startling: 30 performances in the US and 300 in the German-speaking countries of Europe. Clearly, if we want to sing opera, specifically German opera, we need to go to Germany!
The last reason is our family life. We have two very young boys. The life of an opera singer in the United States is that of a gypsy. The way the opera industry in our country is structured demands that opera singers be freelancers. That means no stability, no health insurance, no sick days, no retirement pay. It also means that we spend a great deal of time separated or uprooting our kids from their life. In Germany, it is usual for singers to be attached to a particular theater for a period of years. That’s the kind of stability our young family needs while we hone our skills in the German repertoire.
Our goal is to eventually return to the United States and teach what we have learned, hopefully helping to revitalize interest in opera in general and German opera in particular in this country.
Why an Audition Tour?
Ross and Jenny have both worked professionally in the United States, but we strongly believe that Germany is the next step for us. We have gotten very positive feedback both from conductors and directors in the US and colleagues currently working in Germany. We also have a commitment of introductions to German agents and impresarios from our mentor.
We have been advised by many in the industry to stay as long as possible – 3 months – to maximize our chances of being heard by as many people as possible and to be available for callbacks.
The only thing holding us back from the realization of our goals is funding. That is where you can help.
How Much Does This Cost?
Our estimate for the total cost of our trip is $25,000. That is for both Jenny and Ross as well as our two boys who will need to travel with us. The funds will cover airfare to Berlin for the family, a three month apartment rental in Berlin, train travel to audition cities, hotel stays, food and other living costs in Berlin, a one week intensive language refresher class, local cell phones, and incidental costs such as coachings, tickets to the opera performances for the purpose of networking, babysitting, etc.
Our project’s budget is obviously more than the goal listed here, and we are hopeful that we will exceed that goal. We also have other fundraising irons in the fire, including a pre-audition concert in NYC in early September. (If you live nearby and would like to attend, keep an eye on this page – we will come back to post details about that here!)
We’ve done our best to come up with rewards that you will enjoy. If you have an idea for a reward that doesn’t appear in the list here, please let us know, and we’ll try our best to make it happen.
Faith, Patience, Courage
These are the guiding lights of the Kashu-do – the Way of the Singer – espoused by our teacher, friend and mentor Jean Ronald La Fond. It takes a tremendous amount of all three to take our young family across the sea to a foreign country to follow the path of our vocation. That is what we truly believe we are doing – following the way that we are meant to go to arrive at a point of excellence in our art, so that we can be beacons of light to our fellow men through our music. We thank you for aiding us on our way.
Can I suggest a different reward if I don’t see one I like?
Of course! We’ll do what we can to make it happen!
What is your budget?
For a 3 month audition tour for a family of four, the line items are totaling $24,320.00.
What is included in your budget?
Round trip airfare to Germany, Eurrail passes, train travel not covered in the Eurrail, hotel accomodations, apartment rental in our home base city, local cell phones, food, coachings for the purpose of preparation and networking in Germany, accompanist fees, babysitting while we are auditioning, a one week intensive language refresher course, tickets to opera performances and concerts, travel health insurance (mandatory for those traveling extensively in the EU), picture and resume reproduction, and incidentals.
Do you receive all the funds you raise through Kickstarter?
No. If we reach our goal, Kickstarter will keep 5% and Amazon Payments will keep 5% to process credit card payments. If we don’t reach our goal, all the money will be returned to those who pledged it. The project must be 100% funded for us to see a penny.
What will happen if you raise more than your Kickstarter goal?
Our projected budget for our audition tour is about 3 times our Kickstarter goal. Any and all funds raised here will go to fund the tour. If we should be so fortunate as to exceed our total tour budget, we will use the funds to record demos, full-length CDs, and a possible return trip to Germany for additional auditions. We are committed to using any and all funds raised here to further our artistic goals.
How will you manage auditioning and traveling with two small boys?
We are quite experienced in this! We have traveled and toured while performing all over the US with the boys. We have also juggled a voice studio, an event planning business and two performing careers in one of the most demanding cities around - New York. We also feel very fortunate to have an extensive network of friends throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland who have offered assistance when we need it. And then there are Jenny’s color-coordinated spreadsheets and lists…
Is that Ross’s real hair?
Yes. Yes, it is.
- (30 days)