Spotlight On: Mel Burbules
I met Mel through a mutual friend and instantly fell in love with her humor and genuine wacky sweetness. She is awesome and worth a follow. See below for her keys to success and how she organizes her stage moments...
Q- What was the moment you realized you made it, or were truly living the dream you had set out to achieve?
I realized that I was finally pursuing my dream when my singing and musical gigs took up more time than my "regular" jobs. I eventually quit one of my day jobs to put more priority on my goals as a singer and focus on my upcoming gigs.
Q- What would this moment look like for you in the future?
"Making it" to me means that I am singing and teaching 100% of the time. I want to travel nationally and internationally to perform, and specifically, it is my dream to perform at The Metropolitan Opera. Whether that will happen or not, we'll see! I feel that "making it" is less about the places I perform and more so about being able to do what I love every day...but a girl can work hard and dream big! Later in my career, my goal is to be the Head of Voice for a university or conservatory program.
Q- How does a dress, oufit, etc. lend to that moment of 'making it'.
I remember every major performance event in my life first by the costume, outfit, or gown I wore. Each ensemble brings back vivid memories and special moments from these times in my life. In terms of costumes, so many productions have been performed for decades and passed through major companies (say, The Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, etc). - it would be amazing to one day look at the tag of my costume for a performance at one of those companies and see the name of one of the legendary singers who wore it before me.
Q- When do you feel confident as an artist and how does a dress/outfit, lend itself to that confidence?
I feel confident as an artist when I am onstage, immersed in a role. A great costume makes me feel as though I can transform into that character, and thus truly be in the moment onstage. in that world! If I am singing a recital or a concert, a stunning gown makes me feel confident and FABULOUS, and ready to wow the audience!
Q- Does this character resonate? Can you see yourself in her? Or do you struggle to understand her choices?
For this particular production, the chorus perpetuates the "status quo." They live in a society where it is encouraged to follow the order. Particularly, our director Tomer Zvulun cites inspiration in McCarthyism and Margaret Atwood's novel/the TV show, "The Handmaid's Tale." I am definitely much more of a leader than a follower, so it was tricky in the beginning to connect to this idea and this type of society. When I thought about it, I realized that these people (the chorus) were simply taught to think this way - to be confused and sometimes maddened by people who are different from them - which gave it a little more perspective, and helped me connect to events and mindsets that exist today.
Q- What did it take for you to prepare for her?
We have been in musical rehearsals since August, where we find our ensemble sound and work endlessly on our German diction. We began staging rehearsals in late September, early November, and brought the music to life by creating characters in this society.
Q- What do your non-performance hours look like as you interact in this role?
I have put a big focus on my physical health, because when I eat healthy and am in good shape, I sing my best. Before every rehearsal, I am sure to do some type of cardiovascular work out, HYDRATE, and eat a good meal! Also, I make sure to review the music and staging, and remind myself of my memorization.
Q- What are performers going through that may not be glamorous but is real and at the heart of performing, choosing the career you've chosen?
The most un-glamorous part of being a singer is the instability. Many times, you do not know where your next gig will be or where your next paycheck will be coming. In order to make this work, you have to be really smart with your money and time, and most importantly, you have to have a rock solid sense of self. From this instability comes plenty of rejection and periods of time where you are not performing. A singer needs to be positive, self-motivated, determined, and constantly be able to self-evaluate objectively in pursuing their goals. It is also vital to lean on your trusted network of people - teachers, coaches, colleagues, friends, and family - to remind you of your worth and get you through hard times!
Q- What does feeling successful in your career look like for you?
Performing as much as I can, and then working the rest of my life to teach the next generation of singers.
Q- Have you achieved success and if so what is the next goal?
I feel as though I have been successful throughout my steady journey, but I am always focusing on my future goals. I think an unconventional success of this year has been living more in the moment and enjoying the process as an artist. I have allowed myself this full year to work on my singing and prepare for auditions next year (2018-2019 season), so it has been a good blend of living in the "now" while still pursuing bigger goals.
Headshot - Brent Hetherington Photography