3 Things Business Can Learn From Opera

Not many people know that I studied opera. A supremely proud coloratura soprano (E flat above high C? — no problem),  I envisioned a future as the next Lily Pons. That was Monday through Thursday. On the weekends I dreamed that I would be discovered by Seals & Crofts as the perfect backup singer to their smoky lyrics. I lived with what was considered a weird dichotomy of musical interests for many years before Sarah McLachlan came along to legitimize opera as a foundation for popular music.

Fast forward a couple of decades and I’m living on the opposite coast dedicating my time to growing people and business. At first glance there may not seem to be a connection between studying opera and an abiding addiction to business – but here it is:

Both opera and business depend on having a well choreographed plan, getting the right people in the right roles, and – most importantly – knowing when to let someone else’s voice shine over your own.

When I read an opera score (yes, it’s true – I like to read them) I see an intricately-structured business plan with an intentional outcome. Alto, tenor, soprano, bass — they read like job titles. Recruiter, Sales, Admin Assistant, Manager… The score gives you timing – not just how quickly or slowly things should be moving but when to bring in new players or when to exit others. And then there are the divas. There are always divas.

In my singing days, the people I sang with – especially my friend Sami – were at the centre of everything for me. Sami and I studied with the same voice coaches, Leo and Norma DesJardins. She and I spent many hours, actually years, singing together. We sang everything from Rigoletto to Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. Those were great days with great people.

It’s still all about the people.

And variety.

Here’s a little treat for Seals and Crofts fans.


2 Replies to “3 Things Business Can Learn From Opera”

  1. Dear Friend,
    Yes, we had many entertaining moments back in the good old days! But as I remember it you had a full, clear and easy F# above high C. It was always a joy not just listening to you sing but listening to you vocalize as that was when I could really hear the true nature and strength of your voice. Thank you for reminding me of the things we shared so long ago. You are always an inspiration and a true friend.


    1. Dear Sami,

      I hope you’re still singing. I remember how beautifully you phrased O Mio Babbino Caro. It always amazed me how you could move effortlessly from a gentle art song to belting out White Rabbit. It’s so nice to be reconnected after all these years.



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