Whether you are still dealing with an academic situation, or have moved away from one, here is my question to you: Were you encouraged to develop your OWN critical and independent thought in regard to your vocal development?
Why am I asking this? You need to be literally and figuratively part of the program. YOU are responsible for YOUR voice. You MUST develop vocabulary, have imagination and GUTS to truly discover who you are as an artist and as a human being.
Vocabulary comes in many forms and on many streams of consciousness. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE to discover these. There will always be people who want to "help" you but it is ultimately YOU and ONLY you who can develop the vocabulary to decide what is truly help and in the best interest of your voice and being, and what is total and utter bullshit.
Just as you would find a way to deal with and find information regarding vocal health, allergies, illness, so do you need a way to develop vocabulary to determine fach and how you fit into that system effectively.
You have to have a capacity for honesty WITH YOURSELF or develop that capacity. You have to have the guts to act on what you see. Recognition is one thing, but DOING is another.
"Doing" is never convenient or easy. But it is truth and it finds truth.
Remember, opera is BUSINESS. If you want to make a living as a singer, you are in business. It's not fair - who said it was fair? And it's work, far beyond developing that voice. So, if you are not true to your voice, and discovering it fully, you cannot truly represent yourself in an honest way vocally and artistically. Business is not honest, business is business. Develop the VOICE honestly, because at the end of the day, that's what you have to negotiate with. If you are willing to sell it out for a job, that is your choice, and ultimately YOUR responsibility.
It is not up to a teacher, a coach, an artistic director, etc to be responsible to find your fach. IT IS YOURS. When your foot hits the boards, IT IS YOURS. You bring your talent, your desire, your passion along with your vocabulary, your imagination, your work and your GUTS NOT ANYBODY ELSE'S!!! No one can take that from you, nor can you pass it off on somebody else.
Being an artist in these moments is being very much alone. It is real. It is a time of reckoning. Have you claimed who you are and discovered that fully, or have you allowed somebody else to tell you who you are? They will always try. Will you have the force of will and determination to recognize the difference?
Your personal and professional vocabulary is an ongoing development in establishing fach. This addresses study - vocal, dramatic, musical - as well as systematic on a world stage (just because you have the most dramatic voice in your vocal department, doesn't make you a dramatic fach, necessarily!)
What determines fach or vocal type, in a larger arena? How do you fit in? Just because you want it, or are encouraged to, does it mean you have it? The challenge and NECESSITY of self-awareness and self-truth is of the highest importance here. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. No one else has the authority for your self-truth. And in holding your authority, you and only you are the one who deals with the consequences of the realization of that truth. You pay the cost. Nobody else does.
The more we, as singers, are aware of what the vocal responsibilities are for any certain fach, the dramatic dimension and development of any certain character, the understanding of the house we perform in, the characterization of the conductor and orchestra we will perform with, the more vocabulary and AUTHORITY we bring to an opera company/symphony orchestra about HOW we sing and WHAT we sing and WHY.
If fach remains theatrical device - it is simply that - a device. We claim it as that, and find a way to develop it for our purposes, or we don't. We play the game, or we don't. We rise above it, or we don't. We survive, or we don't. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Make that fach system work FOR YOU. Don't wish; don't make excuses! Find that voice, CLAIM it, find out where it is best served - in fach, in house, in artistic development.
The more vocabulary we build, the more we infuse into our singing, into our presentation, into our authenticity as artists. Ours isn't about a style of singing, or a style of acting, but about SUBSTANCE. It is substance that stands after the other trappings disappear.
Don't stomp your feet and say it isn't fair! DO SOMETHING!!!! Your responsibility is to YOU - developing your skill, your craft, your voice, your acting intelligence, your musical intelligence and your ability to develop trust and notice and act on any red flags that begin to wave.
We MUST take responsibility to develop the knowledge to explore what we SHOULD sing, where and when. Not what we would LIKE to sing, nor what somebody else would like to hear us sing, if it is not in our best interest.
There is only ONE YOU. You are unique. And YOU are responsible to preserve that uniqueness and develop it FULLY and COMPLETELY. Why would you hand that over completely to someone else? It would make no sense!!!
Sing what you sing well. Know WHAT you sing well. Dare to be honest, dare to truthful, dare to ask questions of yourself, dare to be uncomfortable. Dare to sing because you CAN, not because somebody says you should. Dare to OWN that vocabulary, and OWN that imagination. Dare to stand up and back it up and have the guts to say it. And have the voice to PROVE it.
Let your voice lead you - don't let wishful thinking from you or somebody else lead you. Use the device of fach as a guideline to develop as a theatrical device in your journey - but a guideline only. It is not black and white, nor was it ever meant to be. It was developed to ignite a sense of critical and independent thought within the walls of an opera house, and if used within the walls of your imagination, it can serve you - or completely deceive you. It is your responsibility to find YOU inbetween those walls.