If Young is Under 25, then Young Opera Singers are Actually Old

Young Opera Singers
Young Opera Singers

It’s become the newest craze — young opera singers.

We’ve been hearing, reading and seeing so much about young opera singers:

  • a 10 yr old opera singer
  • a 12 year old opera singer
  • a 15 year old opera singer.

YouTube is bursting with videos made

  • in private homes
  • within TV studios
  • at talent searches
  • during live concerts

of young singers performing arias and songs from well-known operas.

Everyone is amazed. The bloggers marvel. The agents try to snap up the new star.

But, is this what opera and opera singing are really all about?

How young were famous opera singers when they first appeared in an opera production? Click to find out.


At What Age do Opera Singers Begin Their Training?

Opera Conductor Myron Yusypovych and Young Singers: Kristin Sampson, Hollis Zeffin Quinn
Opera Conductor Myron Yusypovych and Young Singers: Kristin Sampson, Hollis Zeffin Quinn

Most young singers, who want a future in opera begin lessons at age 13 or 14. This is the age when the vocal chords are developed enough to begin vocal training.

But, for most singers, real opera training starts when they are in their 20s and beyond.

Opera vocal training is very stressful. It requires a combination of physical and emotional maturity. Adolescents and teens are not sufficiently strong to endure the demands of opera performance.

It is only when a singer has reached their 20s, that their body is mature enough to handle the stress of opera vocal training.

Click for a list of young opera singers.


How Can Young Opera Singers Promote Themselves?

Young Artist Program in Lviv, Ukraine
Young Artist Program in Lviv, Ukraine

In today’s day and age, everyone needs to promote themselves – including aspiring opera singers.

There are 4 major ways that young opera singers can advance their career:


What do the young need to become a REAL opera singer?

Young Opera Singers Concert
Young Opera Singers Concert

A young singer wanting to make it big in the opera world needs to:

  • be able to sing technically well. Interesting fact: An opera singer must be able to project his or her voice over a 60+ piece orchestra without a microphone
  • have ear and music training
  • have completed course work in music history. Interesting fact: An opera singer must know the music, composers and times to be able to properly portray a character on the opera stage. Click to enjoy a video clip of a young opera singer portraying a historical figure.
  • have training with an acting coach. Interesting fact: Opera singers must be able to sing with a full operatic voice while portaying a believable, dancing, flirting and sometimes dying character on stage
  • speak Italian, French, German and possibly Russian and Czech. Interesting fact: Unfortunately, in most cases today, it is not enough to just be able to pronounce these languages
  • have a sense of business. Interesting fact: Today, many young opera singers don’t just concentrate on their music studies. They also persue various aspects of business – promotion, management, finance
  • have a special “something” that draws classical music audiences.

How Important Is Luck For an Opera Singing Career?

It is hard for most aspiring young opera singers to accept that, unfortunately, luck does play a role in opera performance career development.

Click to find out about some famous opera singers and their “lucky breaks”


How Young were Famous Opera Singers When They Had Their “Lucky Break”?

Famous Opera Singers Debuts
Famous Opera Singers Debuts

Shirley Verrett (May 31, 1931 – November 5, 2010) was a black singer, a mezzo-soprano, who successfully transitioned into soprano roles (ie. soprano sfogato) later in life. Shirley Verrett made her operatic debut in The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten in 1957. At the time of her debut, she was 27 years old. One year later, in 1958 she made the debut that really launched her career. At age 28, she sang Irina in Lost in the Stars by Kurt Weill at the New York City Opera.

Luciano Pavarotti (October 12, 1935 – September 6, 2007) was an Italian tenor. In 1961, he made his operatic debut as Rodolfo in La Boheme at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia, Italy. At the time of his debut, Luciano Pavarotti was 26 years old. However, his real operatic breakthrough came at the age of 28, when in 1963, Pavarotti toured Australia with Joan Sutherland.

Joan Sutherland (November 7, 1926 – October 10, 2010) was a dramatic coloratura soprano. She made her operatic stage debut in Judith by Eugene Goossen in 1951. At the time of her debut, Joan Sutherland was 25 years old. After winning the Sun Aria competition in Australia, she travelled to the Opera School at the Royal College of Music in London. While there, she was engaged by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as a utility soprano and made her debut in The Magic Flute as the First Lady on October 28, 1952 (age 25).

Modest Menzinsky (April 29, 1875 – December 11, 1935) was a tenor. In 1901, he made his operatic debut as Lionel in Marta by Friedrich von Flotow at the Frankurt Opera, Germany. On the day of his debut, Modest Menzinsky was 26 years old. However, it wasn’t until 1904, when he was 29 that Menzinsky received his first permanent contract with the Stockholm Opera.

Ira Malaniuk (January 29, 1919 – February 29, 2009) was an Austrian and Ukrainian mezzo-soprano. In 1939, she made her operatic debut in a student performance as Amneris in Aida by Giuseppe Verdi in the Lviv Opera House. At the time, Ira Malaniuk was 20 years old. However, it wasn’t until 1945, when she was 26, that Ira Malaniuk made her professional debut as Azucena in Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi at the Opera House in Graz, Austria.


A List of Young (And Not so Young) Opera Singers

Young Bass Singers: