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  • Writer's pictureLiya Khaimova

Pursuing an Opera Career

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

The Seasons are Changing

And I'm feeling conflicted...

Liya Khaimova talks about what pursuing an opera career looks like as a lyric soprano

For the first time in my life, I'm nervous about the seasons changing. And I don't mean the literal changes from summer to fall to winter, etc... I mean, the seasons in my life. Can you relate?

Lately, I've been talking to a few people about the direction my life is headed, and how difficult it is to pursue an opera career, especially when your finances aren't where you want them to be. This art form really does favor those that have some

wealth to their names, but this is for another conversation...


Here's what's happened in my life that may put things better into context:

I started a new part-time job at COCA (Center of Creative Arts) here in Saint Louis almost two weeks ago. It's been going wonderfully, and I've been able to make some extra cash, which is so helpful during the audition season. And it's so nice to have a part-time job in a field that I have my degrees in and am passionate about. Aaaaaand I get to take as many classes as I want. FOR FREE! (I'm currently in the Adult Ballet Intermediate class on Monday mornings, and it's the first time I've taken a serious ballet class in 14 years...), and I'm able to use this money towards the audition season.

But this audition season is proving to be an absolute dud this year... I've gotten all rejections from the programs I've applied to, while so many of my colleagues are off in NYC, singing their butts off for various companies/starting programs at the top opera houses in the country...

And it's really messing with my psyche*.

*Am I cut out for this career? Is my voice good enough? Will I ever make it? What even does "making it" mean?! 

I know these thoughts aren't exclusive to me. EVERY singer has these thoughts, multiple times during the year. 

But what I haven't been prepared for is the anxiety that has come along with this pursuit. The other night I had a full-on panic attack and I NEVER have anxiety. It was so strange, and I didn't know how to deal with it. Tyler did such an amazing job comforting me, and I'm so damn thankful to have him in my life. 

This has got me thinking about what it means to have a full-time career as an opera singer, in particular.

  1. It's pretty damn rare that singers make a decent living as a full-time singer (like, 1% of singers make a full-time, middle-class income).

  2. Do I still even want that lifestyle?

  3. What are my long-term goals?

Well, this past week something happened that could possibly change the course of my career. And it's scaring the hell out of me, but also making me extremely excited.

When I was working a brunch shift at my restaurant job, a regular came in and we started talking. I told him about my COCA job and he told me he was looking for someone and asked me to send him my info... Long story short, I'm now in the second round of interviews for a full-time position with FULL benefits, unlimited Paid-Time-Off, and the flexibility to go to auditions when they arise... THIS SEEMS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, but I'm rolling with it.

I don't have the job (yet), but it seems like it just fell into my lap. I've been thinking about marriage and kids, and where I want to be in life, and maybe a touring musician career isn't the right one for me (and maybe that's why I haven't gotten any auditions)? I value my family time, time with friends, and being in the comfort of my own home.

This doesn't mean I have decided to quit the pursuit of a singing career. I think this just means I am exploring my options, and listening to my gut about what needs to happen next.


Lots of tears have been shed, lots of articles and blog posts have been read, and lots of conversations with other musicians have been had. And if I do decide to leave this career behind, maybe I'll fall back in love with singing? And do it for fun and pure enjoyment, rather than stressing about making money from it.

Who knows where life will lead me, but I'm going with it, and trying to be the best human as I possibly can.

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