Wolf Trap Opera

The Future of Opera

Incubation

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This one is for you performing artist introverts out there. Extroverts, you can just keep on surfing.

Move along now. Nothing to see here.

Just a minute…

P1020024OK, I think they’re gone. It’s safe.

Not that there’s anything wrong with our friends who wake up every day craving all eyes and ears turned on them. They’re good people. But they tend to disbelieve us, and we don’t need that.

It seems counter-intuitive at best that folks who are happiest out of the spotlight end up in careers that thrust them there. But we are legion.Whether we are musicians, fine artists, writers, speakers – it makes no difference. At a certain point, in order to continue the life cycle of our work, we have to put it in the open air.

I’ve been incubating lately, and I submit today’s post in solidarity with those of you who have been doing the same. It’s not a vice, this holding our work close to our chest. And it has real value. We have created a space inside ourselves that accepts and nurtures ideas, and that’s no small feat. (Extroverts, I banished you, but if you’re still here, take note.) While our ideas – our music, our art, our beliefs – grow in this space, they are interwoven with threads of our own heart and soul. And there’s the rub: That’s what gives them integrity, and that’s what makes them so hard to share.

They are beautiful and unassailable in the safety of our incubators. The songs sung in the practice room, the art tucked away in the studio, the writing nestled on our hard drives, the project plans resting gently in our minds – even the small children we raised in the warm, protected space of our homes. The introvert’s tendency – dare I say, crime – is to want to leave them there. For sure, when we sing our songs for others, the air of the real world and the judgment of other minds change them. But our challenge is to love this metamorphosis – to crave it, even.

Our extroverted friends do their creative work in full sight. Sometimes like a clunky, under-rehearsed a vista scene change. But no worries, we don’t need to go that far. We just need to acknowledge that the incubation of our ideas has a point of diminishing return. We shall vow to look at our work daily, turning it over and testing it to see when it’s ready to be shared. And when we do offer it up, to appreciate the way that the light shone on it by others will burnish it, not threaten it.

Hang in there, all. February is indeed the longest month. I have many things to report on the opera front, and I swear I shall follow my own advice and get to them forthwith. Back soon.

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