Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Opera-tunity Knocks

This is my 500th post to Confessions of a Middle-Aged Adolescent. Sure, 60 of them are relatively brief beer-oriented ones, but I'm pretty happy that I am still finding stuff to write about on a (more or less) consistent basis. To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that my ten of readers keep turning out to peruse my ramblings, especially since my primary objective is just to capture both the important and the trivial things that relate to me, to aid my memory in the years to come!


I also didn't want a milestone post to be about today's beer from the Advent Calendar, so I thought I would document some feelings about Fenya getting her first paying job.


Now, Fenya is a pretty good worker for the most part, and I'm saying that as her Dad, a guy who gets bent out of shape from finding half-finished chores around the house, or has to get on her about putting tools back where they belong after a project has captured her imagination. How much of this is simple Freudian transference from Audrey subjecting me to similar treatment from time to time, no one can say, but she is a responsible, compassionate kid with a good sense of right and wrong. She has had small gigs before, like sorting music for the choir (which put money towards her touring expenses), collected bottles and the like as well as babysitting, but never a job where you needed to provide your social insurance number.

Or join a union, for that matter...

Like a lot of kids in my hometown, my first job was working at the local McDonald's, on the grill. Ronald's place is a pretty decent place to work as a teenager, looking back. Lots of people your own age, schedulers willing to work around exams and the like, lots of little incentives like crew parties and competitions, as well as a free meal every shift. I didn't think much of it at the time, and quit as soon as another opportunity opened up elsewhere, but it could have been a lot worse.


Fenya's first paying gig, as it happens, is performing with the Edmonton Opera Company in their production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute", starting January 31st.


It's important to me that you know that I critically misread the entire situation that led up to this circumstance; when I heard the EOC was looking for some children, and had approached Cantilon looking for those who were large of voice but small of stature, and that Fenya was auditioning for a part, my assumption was that it was some sort of children's chorus. I still thought this was pretty cool, but as the chamber choir has sung for The Nutcracker every winter since she joined it, didn't pay it nearly as much heed as I obviously should have...


I pressed her for some details when the rehearsal schedule was released, and she corrected me, gently but firmly: "Dad, it isn't a chorus; I have an actual role, like, a singing part."


"I'm 'Spirit #2'. There are three of us, and we advise the main characters, like Prince Tamino."

I started to nod, but then felt moved to confess that since Bugs Bunny had never adapted elements of Die Zauberflöte, I had used up the extent of knowledge simply by being aware of its existence.

She then went on to explain that the role was of enough stature and significance that she would not only be getting paid, but she would also need to join the Actor's Equity union as well. A couple of weeks later, we met the company director before a chamber choir rehearsal in order to sign her contract (!), and he explained everything.

Previously, he said, these roles had not required Union membership, and the (typically) young people in them had been given a simple honorarium, but they had changed this recently. As a result, the Opera Company would pay the membership fee up front, then deduct that amount from the weekly wage before paying them the remainder so they wouldn't be out of pocket. Since the membership fee was startling close to four digits, I thought this sounded both fair and reasonable.


Fenya went to her costume fitting about a week ago, and her first rehearsals this Monday and Tuesday, but is now off until after Christmas. Starting on the 28th though, there are a dozen more rehearsals before the curtain goes up Saturday, January 31st. They even gave her a parking pass for the performance nights, even though she doesn't have her driver's license yet.


I've never been to a live opera, but we have floor tickets for opening night for this one, and I am really looking forward to it! Auntie Tara was much quicker on the draw and got her seats much earlier, and so might have a better view than us, but that's okay; sitting closer to the back will keep my beaming and inflated head from getting in the way of the rest of the audience.

It probably goes without saying that I am incredibly proud of Fenya for doing this, but why leave it to chance; I am completely impressed with and proud of this girl (and her sister, for that matter). She still professes to have no musical career ambitions, but is looking forward to putting her experience with the Edmonton Opera Company on her résumé. And why shouldn't she? It's way better than flipping burgers.



1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's pretty impressive and a big milestone for Fenya, for sure. Clearly she's got talent, and I'm sure it'll be a fantastic show.