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What is a YAP?

Hi friends and followers, first of all, I want to thank you for following along on my blog! It’s been fun writing so far. I know my blogs have been a little all over the place, but for me that’s okay! I figured it was better to start somewhere and perhaps focus in a bit more as we go along. I would love it if you would subscribe to my weekly blog posts by filling out this form .

One of the first questions I get when I tell people that I am an opera singer is, “So what do you ACTUALLY do?” I get that most people have really no idea what it means to be an opera singer in today’s American society so I hope to shine a little light today and in future blog posts on that and what I am usually auditioning and applying for. So this post is dedicated to the question: the HECK is a YAP!?

*One* of the ways to bridge the gap between your schooling and professional career is by getting into a Young Artist Program. (Key word one). These programs are extremely competitive to get into. I’m talking a less than 2% acceptance. Yes, that is lower than Harvard’s acceptance rate. Companies post adds on this website called and then you can submit your application from there. Most applications require a headshot, resume, and 2-4 videos of you singing arias AND drum roll please- between 25-75 DOLLARS. Yep, these are not free to apply to. Shocker. You can get yourself pretty deep in the hole if you don’t pick and choose wisely which ones you are going to put yourself up for.

You may get an audition, you might get on the wait list, or you might just get a polite “thanks but there were 329048523 people who applied to this and we don’t want to hear you” email. No matter, if at first you don’t succeed try, try again.

Needless to say, even if you have a fairly decent audition season it can be a real blow to the confidence level. My personal favorite thing that happened during this audition season was getting an email that said, Ms. Anderson, we would love to take you off the wait list, can you audition in two days in New York? This would have been pretty typical, IF THEY HAD EVER EVEN TOLD ME THAT I WAS ON THE WAIT LIST. “Oh yes, I see we forgot to notify you that we had placed you on the wait list.” *eye roll* I would have gone but I was sicker than a dog that week and could barely even speak, so I guess it wouldn’t have really mattered either way.

Types of YAPS (as far as time of year and length):

Pay to Sing: These are the lowest level of the YAP circuit. Usually in summertime because most of the singers attending these are still in school. These are essentially training programs for younger singers. They can include voice lessons, coachings, opera scenes, or potentially a fully staged opera. They can give really great experience but will cost you! These can range anywhere from 1k-9k. If it is one overseas not only do you have to pay for tuition, room and housing, but also for airfare. I did attended on of these during the summer between undergrad and grad school- “Canta in Italia.” It was most certainly and investment money wise, but I will say it was an amazing experience and I would do it over if I could! Here's a pic of me back in the day in Italy....

Summer Festivals: These are probably the most prevalent type. They can last for a couple weeks, a month or most of the summer. Some of these are “Fellowship” style meaning that they cover your expenses but don’t pay you, others you do get paid. Many perform operas and give you the opportunity to study and coach roles, and well as potentially cover or perform them.

Resident Artist: Most of these are about a year long, some more or less. Most are more in the Top or middle tier category meaning that they are for very advanced singers. You commit to the opera company that you will live there for around a year and participate in their operas and usually outreach program. Most of these pay and take care of your housing.

For anyone looking for specific names and which program belongs to which category, Opera America made a pretty thorough list sorted by level of program that you can check out.

It seems to me that participating in a YAP does not necessarily make you or break you. It does give you a nod from the opera business and looks pretty darn nice on your resume. I plan to keep auditioning in the future and see what happens! I feel lucky that lately I have been able to participate in many professional local auditions that have no ties to this whole YAP world whatsoever! Proof that YAPS aren’t everything but they are definitely something.

For now I’m taking deep breaths and learning new arias for next year’s auditions season. :)