Earlier this week I posted Part One of Life After OperaWorks. Today Ann shares how her life has changed since leaving OperaWorks and what her currents plans include.
How is life different now?
I gave myself six months after I stepped away to reorient myself. I took two long train trips by myself, took a couple of trips with my husband, made lists of all the things I now had time to do, ignored the lists, and tried not to feel guilty about being so unproductive. I thought I would bounce right into something new in a month, but it really did take six months to feel like myself again - the risky, creative self. I have more time to imagine now.
What do you miss most about OperaWorks?
I miss being with the OperaWorks faculty. I loved working so closely together, gathering every day for lunch, discussing which singer had had a breakthrough, which ones were starting to doubt themselves and coming up with solutions. Many on the faculty had been with OperaWorks for years so we trusted each other. What I gained the most from working with them was being surrounded by their excellence, curiosity, openness to new ideas, generosity, and patience to let each artist discover their own voice. That type of pedagogical gift is rare and I miss that kind of ego-less collegiality.
I also miss having the support of the organization to produce concerts or issue-centered performances to promote peace and understanding. Our Arts for Social Awareness Project was a dream come true: integrating my artistic skills with my social conscience. I’m excited that I will be creating these kinds of projects for schools in the coming years.
Anything you don’t miss?
What I don’t miss is the relentless pressure of working long hours year-round at less than minimum wage to run a non-profit with a very small budget and staff. It had been a labor of love but, without the time or energy to balance that with creative endeavors, I realized that it was time for a change.
What does life after OperaWorks look like- what new adventures will you embark upon?
Life after OperaWorks is evolving. In January 2019 I had the opportunity to speak about creating Pastiche Operas at the National Opera Association conference. I continue to teach as a guest artist in conservatories and universities, and in other summer programs.
2019-2020 has proven to be fulfilling and exciting in ways I could not have anticipated: I created and directed a pastiche opera on Immigration for Bowling Green State University, another on White Supremacy was postponed due to the pandemic, and I am currently working on a virtual pastiche opera in Isolation with Peabody Institute. Master classes and teaching continues virtually. Equally fulfilling is my work on the American Red Cross Disaster Action and the Evacuation Shelter Teams.
Anything else you would like to add?
The person who has been my rock is my husband David Aks. Since OperaWorks’ inception he was willing to go on this journey with me, he supported and encouraged me, comforted me on the bad days, made me laugh, taught his OperaWorks classes like a god, and took care of tasks during the programs that weren’t in his job description. None of this would have happened without him.