Why risk it all by moving to LA to follow your dream of being a professional opera singer? Steph DePrez explains why she sees it as a form of service to create beauty for the audience.
Stephanie DePrez: (singing) When I moved to LA, I was desperately trying to pay rent, and pay student loans, and buy food, and I completely hit rock bottom. A priest bought me a tank of gas, you know, I’m like sobbing at a 76 in Boyle Heights. That ties directly into like how are we building the kingdom? We get better and better at the things that we’re doing every day.
Opera. LA, California.
Stephanie: The basics for opera, you have to know German, French, Italian. You have to be able to translate them, and then also put it into the international phonetic alphabet. I have to be able to do that for French, Italian, and German, then when you’re actually working, you should be basic conversation with all three languages.
Grotto: Why in God’s name do you do all this?
Stephanie: Like, when all of the pieces have been put together, it’s not only these amazing sounds, but it’s also using the tools of human language in the midst of a narrative, and to be able to give that gift, when it is all done correct, it feels like a form of service. Like it’s similar to teaching.
I was a high school music and drama teacher before going back to school for opera, and I told my students that I would be leaving. I can’t tell them to follow their dreams if I am not following mine, and that was a driving force for me leaving teaching and moving to LA.
It’s been frustrating to me, as a lot of being an opera singer is being alone, like by yourself, either in a practice room or just at your desk. So when I’m alone, and sad, and like feeling really depressed because I didn’t get cast in anything or none of my auditions worked out, I take a deep breath, and I remember why I’m singing, and why I’m doing this work, and why I’m spending so much time, and energy, and money on making sure that I can do it well. And it’s because this is how I’m using my gifts.
I’m trying to be an opera singer. There was a period of my life when I had to go to a food bank to get food, and when I like didn’t drive my car because I couldn’t afford gas. That’s part of my story, and I own it, and I draw strength from it, because I’ve been there. I’m not scared walking into an audition. I’ve lived accepting help from others. There’s nothing in that audition room that is scary to me.