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Brother, Can You Spare A Gig?

This article is more than 10 years old.

Mezzo-soprano Ja-Nae Duane is in her thirties, but she has been hitting the high notes since she was 13. At age 18, she sang at the White House. She has performed at top venues such as Lincoln Center in New York and Jordan Hall in Boston. Her opera career seemed to be right on track, Duane said, until this year.

“I haven’t done any singing since May,” Duane said.

She was supposed to sing with the Granite State Opera in New Hampshire this season, but “that fell through because they had to shut their doors.” Then, Duane said, the job she won at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, was canceled because of funding issues.

“To have two gigs fall through within three weeks of one another is devastating,” Duane said. “It’s one thing to be a musician and not be able to do it full time because you can’t afford it as a singer, but it’s another thing to have these little glimmers of light just sort of dash away.”

Finding humor in the situation, Duane laughed, adding, “It’s been an interesting year.”

The life of a freelance musician has never been easy, but the current economic downturn is making things a lot harder for working performers in all genres. CD sales are down; orchestras are slashing budgets; gigs at weddings, corporate events and rock clubs are drying up.

This program aired on August 7, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Andrea Shea Twitter Senior Arts Reporter
Andrea Shea is WBUR's arts reporter.

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