Friday, March 4, 2011

The Diva Confession

You probably don't need a history lesson on where the term 'diva' comes from, but maybe a little explanation wouldn't hurt.  Diva was an Italian term used to describe a woman of outstanding talent in opera.  As it became commonly used in the English language, it was also applied to a highly talented woman in any music genre, theatre, or dance and is very closely related in definition to the term 'prima donna'.  It has become a term with rather negative connotations used to describe anyone who flaunts their self-importance in a demanding and unreasonable manner.  Talented? Yes.  But are they easy to live with?  No!

When I was just starting out in college, I got involved in the choral scene on campus.  At the time, the requirement was to sing in the University Chorus for a semester, then one was free to try out for any of the three audition choirs.  I did just that, and as soon as my semester in University Chorus was completed, I decided to audition for the mixed ensemble.  I did audition well, but they had this questionnaire to fill out, which I considered rather silly and pretentious.  So I scribbled some answers to the questions without much thought, believing I was being amusing, saying, in essence, I wanted to join the group because they needed me. The real meaning behind a tossed off comment like that was that I desperately wanted to be needed, especially by those choralists I admired. But its no surprise that my comments didn't go over well, as the audition committee took the questionnaire very seriously.  I didn't get into the group that year, (I did reaudition and got in the following year) but I learned a valuable lesson.  Music making is wonderful and fun, but it can be a serious business.  Acting 'diva' wasn't going to do me favors if I wanted to be taken seriously as a singer.

The experience I had all that time ago has enlightened my choral experiences since.  I have been thinking about the word 'diva' lately, so I looked it up.  Interestingly, I re-discovered that the Italian word 'diva' has a literal translation of 'diety.'  God-like.  Divine Being.  Hmmmm.  I believe that music is a gift from God, my ability to sing is a gift from God as well, and when I sing, I am filled with the Spirit of God, and I share the gift with everyone that hears.  I am embodied by the Divine without which I could not do what I am able to do.  Looked at in this light, I think I am ok with being a diva.  One who knows where she came from, what she wants to do today, and is open to the glorious experiences still to come.