Today’s Notable Young Professional is Canadian Opera Company singer Karine Boucher, who, after finding out it’s possible turn opera singing into a career at 17, is now expressing her passion as a full-time job. We caught up with her to find out what’s most challenging about the job and where she sees herself in five years…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
My job is to learn and sing music as it’s written on the page and doing what the music’s composer wrote. It’s also to be flexible in how I sing the music, and to do what’s asked of me for a performance. My job is to be ready when the time comes to perform.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
The Canadian Opera Company is one of the best opera companies in the world, so when you audition for other companies/other people, they know where you’re coming from and the training that you have.
As a young singer, it’s important to be surrounded by a good team of coaches and advisors that you can trust and guide you. The COC has wonderful coaches and has created a great place to grow and evolve as a singer with the Ensemble Studio. There are also lots of opportunities here so that I’m able to develop my career for when I’m on my own after graduating from the Ensemble Studio program.
I didn’t originally want to be an opera singer – I didn’t know until I was 17 that I could even be an opera singer. One day my teacher at the conservatory told me what my options could be and I just said okay.
You find out that you’re good at something and you just hope to make your passion your work, and now my passion is my full-time job.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The moment when you get to work on a piece of music and something happens in the making of the music. It’s hard to describe, but you feel like you’re part of something bigger, something beautiful and inspiring, and you get addicted to that feeling.
The most challenging part of my job is the discipline you need to have to learn your music and be prepared to know it and sing it well. You have to do that all on your own and that takes time and commitment. Sometimes you need to learn 400 pages of music in less than a month and that’s just for one piece of music in addition to other music you’re learning, rehearsals you’re going to, other performances, coachings, etc.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Right now, my work is my life.
I’m currently in Toronto and I don’t have any family here, so I’m often looking at my music score or practicing even on my day off. Even when I go home to Quebec, though, when I’m technically on a break I’ll be relaxing on the couch and looking at the next piece of music I need to learn.
I need to learn to enjoy the moment.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that I’ll start to be established as an opera singer, both here in Canada and abroad, but I’m not attached to a specific idea of what that would mean.
I’ve got goals for my life, but it’s about what I want to be as a person, not where I want to be. I’ll take what life gives me and I’ll do my best in the work that I’m doing.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Finding a balance between your personal life and singing life, that’s a big challenge. I’m still figuring that out.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Happiness in my work and pride in what I’ve been able to accomplish.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Each time I get to be up on stage. They are all memorable moments.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Take your time. Don’t rush your voice and develop your technique. A voice takes time to develop.
Most importantly, believe in yourself. Put trust in the people who you think have valuable opinions and will support you in the decisions you make. Stay true to yourself and what you bring to the business and to the people you work with.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Momofuku, because I love their noodles!
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Outside, in the country, with my friends and family.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I would love to visit Italy. It has such personality and it’s just alive with culture and activity.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
There’s too much music in my head to just pick one.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would probably be refurnishing antiquities. I love old wood furniture and its design and detail.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I love to help people, but don’t have one particular charity that I focus on.
What to you is notable?
Something, whether it be a person, a place or an event, that will surprise me when I hear about it.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone. I’m not really a technology person so the iPhone is easiest for me to use.
Article photo by Michael Cooper