Videotape everything, change and be grateful

by Dorothy Bishop | 1 September 2014

If you can make them laugh and forget – you did your job.

I graduated from Yale University in 1992 with my Master’s degree in Opera and six major opera roles under my belt. After one rough bus and truck tour I went straight to New York City where I immediately began waiting tables.

Throughout my first turbulent ten years, I managed to get cast in a First Broadway National tour of Master class with Faye Dunaway. I also made my debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops, but mostly I did small regional opera – which we jokingly called BYOW opera (bring your own wig … heck, bring your own costume if you can). Because, well the wigs were just hideous.

During all of this time between temping and buying dime store wigs, I began to laugh a lot. And I began to make people laugh both on and off stage. Once the opera directors figured out I could do comedy (a funny soprano? No, really?) I spent most of my stage time in comic opera.
The question I was always asking myself was: ”How can I make more money at this?” Most regional productions paid very little. My frustration with my support job (secretary) was not fulfilling.

When my frustration with opera became unbearable, I wrote a pop opera show and sold it to the big cruise ships. For eight years I went out as a pop opera singer with a glamorous and semi humorous show called Viva la diva. I also booked it in many of the big gay clubs in New York City and Florida.

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