By Nora DeMilta
The first time I heard the name, Central City Opera, I was sitting in the second row of my Intro to Arts Management class during my sophomore year at Baldwin Wallace University. Our guest speaker came in to tell us about his career in arts management, offer advice, and field any questions we had. He told us about the summer during his undergrad when he had worked as the public relations and marketing assistant for the Central City Opera. He credited the work he did with Central City Opera for jumpstarting his career.
Months later, I was furiously applying to different arts-related internships when I came across Central City Opera’s job listing for a PR and marketing assistant for the 2016 summer festival. Remembering the speaker from my intro class, I applied that day and received an email from the director of production, Karen Federing, requesting an interview. I spoke with Karen and then the marketing team a few days later. I was offered and accepted the position, and since then it’s been a crazy ride.
I learned a lot during the past eleven weeks. I gained skills that will not only further my career but will also help me to be a better human being. I will not soon forget my time with the Central City Opera, or the lessons I learned here:
Cherish small victories
Working in a place like Central City Opera, you can become wrapped up in the end goal of producing the festival season and forget why you are here: to support an organization that creates. I lived with five other interns.. It was really interesting to learn about their departments and various internships. One day I came outside onto my porch and one of my housemates was ventilating a wig for our second main stage show, Tosca. I asked her about it, and she suddenly asked, “Do you want to try?” I jumped at the opportunity. I sat down next to her, and she handed me the tool she was using and a small handful of hair. She showed me how to weave the tool into the lace of the wig, loop the hair around, and tie a small knot. I was not a natural. It took me many attempts, but my housemate was patient with me and let me try until I managed to knot one of the hairs. I was, and still am, incredibly proud to say that I contributed to a wig worn by a principal artist in our production of Tosca. I smiled every time I saw it.
Enjoy the view—Breathe!
Flying into Denver from my home in Cleveland, Ohio, was honestly anticlimactic. I was picturing towering mountains that could scrape the plane’s underbelly. Instead I got many geometric patches of land that made me wonder about mankind’s fascination with symmetry and shapes. I knew Denver was on a plateau and that I would be about a hour west, which meant a mile into the mountains. But I was becoming skeptical of what that actually meant. Had I been lied to? Was Central City even in the Rockies or was it just another plateau? Were mountains even real? I will never forget my first proper look at the mountains. We were driving on the freeway and went under a bridge that opened up to the most breathtaking view of the snowcapped mountains. Snow in June. I could hardly believe it. I wish I could properly put into words the feelings that sight elicited. I felt so insignificant in the world, but I also felt a great sense of belonging and purpose. Fear, joy, regret, anticipation. Everything welled up inside of me, and all I could manage to utter was, “wow.” Since arriving here, I have made a point to always revel in the beauty of the world around me. I cannot even entertain the idea that I will get to see half of the wonders it holds; but of what I do get to experience, I want to experience fully.
The importance of feeling welcome
This one is pretty straightforward. To be welcome is to belong. When I first arrived in
Central City I was very jet lagged, homesick, and a bit sad. I was in a strange place and was anxious for what lay ahead of me. I was thrilled to be working with Central City Opera but I was worried about being able to handle the work. That first night one of my housemates kept checking on me, knocking on my door every twenty minutes with things I might need: hangers, blankets, company for dinner. Those simple gestures made me feel welcome and helped me transition to life in Central City. Receiving her kindness made me want to give kindness. In the coming weeks the interns would be the welcome wagon for all the other company members staying in Central City for the summer. It was our job to make them feel welcome. As the interns loaded in houses, ferrying microwaves, pots, pans, and pillows up and down the hills of Central City, I couldn’t help but think of my housemate holding blankets and hangers outside my door.
Keep good people in your corner
I am so lucky to have worked with the wonderful women of the Central City Opera PR and Marketing Department. During the summer I would discover that they would become my biggest allies. They all rooted for me and mentored me. They never made me feel bad about my mistakes or shortcomings instead they would explain how I could do better and then give me tasks that encouraged me to do so. I felt confident I could go to them with any issue related to the internship and they would help me to find a solution. My direct supervisor in the marketing department in addition to mentoring also gave me great recommendations of places to eat and visit while in Colorado (including a barbeque place whose wings changed my life).
Want to learn more about this season’s operas?
Get the inside scoop via Opera Insider, our festival guide featuring history on this season’s operas, insight into what inspired the composers and librettists to write them, interviews with the artists and opera-themed activities. Download the Opera Insider at www.centralcityopera.org/insider or pick up a copy in our Gift Shop in Central City.