We should all strive to be Divas (or Divos or Div@s)

Divas get a bad rap, but if you ever met a real life diva you would wonder why it's even an issue. In fact, the divas I've me are so awesomely professional that I think we should all strive to be like them.

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The popular conception of a Diva is someone who is incredibly high maintenance, demanding, snobbish and rude. It's a way to describe a woman who thinks she is better than everyone else.

The reality of a real diva (female opera lead), divo (male opera lead) or div@ (non-gendered opera lead) is very different and wonderfully so.

My son is in a youth opera and is currently performing in a mainstage opera with adults.  Through the rehearsals I've come to know the performers. A diva, divo and/or div@ is someone who is super nice, is a really insanely talented singer and is someone who accepts correction to their work without questioning it.

The hallmarks of a Diva/o/@

They are generally very approachable and sociable and nice to be around. They kind of have to be because opera directors have their choice of who to hire for lead roles and if you aren't nice to work with - why should they hire you?

They also take constructive criticism really well. When maestro says to sing it differently - they acknowledge the correction and make the change. They don't debate it or demand it be done their way. They aren't the musical director. The musical director is and it's the musical director's job to decide how they want the music to sound and it's the job of the diva/divo/div@ to sing it the way the musical director wants.  The only time they question it is if they have a question because they need clarification on the direction they are given. They simply don't argue with the musical director. Or the stage director. Or anyone.  They accept the correction and change what they are doing. It's as simple as that.

The final hallmark of a modern diva/divo/div@ is that they are insanely talented. I mean, you should hear them sing and if you go to operas, you will. They are cast in the leads because they are amazing to listen to. Not only are they technically proficient, they are emotionally so as well.  They are divas, not because they are demanding. They are divas because they are really insanely talented and competent and reliable.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was like this. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone you worked with was nice to work with? Wouldn't it be nice if everyone took correction as correction and not as criticism.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was really competent? Of course it would.  What I just described isn't just a diva/divo/div@, I just described a consummate professional. Something we should all aspire to be.

What makes a diva/divo/div@ so willing to be nice, accept correction and perform to their highest standards? Dignity and respect. They are treated with dignity. They have trust that their colleagues, the musical director, stage directions, members of the chorus, and everyone involved in putting on the production is professional and capable of doing their jobs to a high standard. This allows them to not only be dignified but to give dignity to the people they meet and work with. 

If you have not experienced a work environment where everyone is treated with dignity - volunteer as an extra at an opera. It's a demanding work environment, but there is no bullying. Everyone is expected to perform at a high level and in coordination with everyone else. And if you don't, you won't get hired again. It's as simple as that.

Bad Divas/os/@s

So how did Divas come to be represented by a caricature? Well - there was probably some truth to that. The women who got the leads, over the centuries when this caricature came to be may very well have slept their way into the position of diva and not gotten the role as a result of talent. It's not like Harvey Weinstein was the first director to demand starlets sleep with him.

If you couple a person with questionable talent with a position that is entirely dependent, not on her talent, but on her willingness to have sex with someone, you essentially have a job filled by abuse and the person who took the job endured abuse to get it. Becoming demanding and angry at any suggestion you don't deserve the role, makes sense. Which is why it's time we get the whole sexual harassment thing under control.  Sexual harassment creates bad divas.

If you want a workplace full of good divas, divos and div@s - make sure you promote nice people, who are super talented. Treat everyone with dignity and promote a culture of collaboration. It's as simple as that. 

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