My Opera Job - Sarah Freeman
From liaising with our friends and patrons, to securing new investment for the company, Sarah Freeman, Head of Corporate Communications and Development tells us more about her opera job.
Can you describe your job in a nutshell?
There are a few moving parts to my job.
I liaise with companies who wish to partner with us. There are many ways in which we can work with a company that include sponsorship of productions and outreach projects, leadership training, client and corporate entertainment and much more.
I also oversee our recently launched Friends & Patrons programme which provides opportunities to get involved with Irish National Opera on a variety of levels. There is a comprehensive calendar of activity organised for our Friends & Patrons including, amongst others, invitations to masterclasses with world-renowned opera singers, backstage tours, exclusive soirees to hear our Studio artists and invitations to our season launches.
Lastly, but very importantly, I liaise with members of our Founders Circle. These are the people who supported us from the very beginning, when we were a fledgling opera company. They have become great friends of INO and we can’t thank them enough for their continued faith in us and their support for the work we are doing.
How did you get to be working in opera?
My background is law and journalism which might seem to be a strange path towards working in opera! While practising as a barrister, I worked as a freelance radio and print journalist. All of these skills, combined with my passion for all things cultural, made a job in cultural communications a perfect fit.
What’s an average day in your job look like?
A perfect day might include a model-box showing, which is when the INO team gets to see a mini-version of the stage set for an upcoming production. Or it could involve a visit to the rehearsal space for a ‘meet & greet’ which is when the INO team meets the artistic team for the next production before rehearsals officially start. More often than not, I spend a portion of my day researching companies who are the right fit for us and setting up meetings with potential corporate sponsors. I also like to stay in touch with our Founders Circle members and our new Friends & Patrons and am always on the lookout for new people to join the INO family!
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Well, it is a competitive market place for organisations seeking support. My challenge lies in successfully conveying the message that investing in art is an investment into the heart and soul of a people. A nation without a vibrant cultural scene would be a very bleak prospect.
What’s the most fun thing about your job?
Most definitely the excitement of an opening night. Recently we performed the world-premiere of a brand new piece, Least Like The Other, Searching for Rosemary Kennedy and the anticipation and energy in the theatre before curtain-up was exhilarating.
What’s one thing about your job people mightn’t expect?
Possibly that when we go on tour, I go too! I travel to theatres the length and breadth of the country to meet as many of our audiences as possible. It’s really exciting the see the passion for opera around Ireland and it augurs well for the future of the art form.
What’s your favourite thing about working in opera?
I still have to pinch myself that my working life includes nights out at the opera. It’s a dream job. I also love the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes as rehearsals start and a production develops.
What’s your least favourite thing about working in opera?
Probably the perception that opera is not accessible. It is as accessible as pop music, you just need to hear a few different types of opera to find what appeals best to you.
What’s your favourite opera?
I love La Bohéme because I got to see it with my parents at the Met in New York which was very special. My father loved opera.