How Much Do Opera Singers Make? (Salary And Pay Per Gig) Monday August 15 2022, 2:45 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
How Much Do Opera Singers Make? (Salary And Pay Per Gig)

How Much Do Opera Singers Make? 

Are you considering a career as an opera singer? They happen to make an impressive amount of money in certain locations across the globe.

Opera singers can get paid much more than singers in other genres of music because of the years of vocal and musical training that are required to do so.

Opera performances at well-known theatres are also something that fancy people with larger budgets tend to attend, so of course, the stars of the show will receive a nice payment for their services. 

According to salary-checking sites like Comparably and Chron, opera singers can make an average of $60,000 per year.

Those who are more established in the classical music world would be looking at a yearly income closer to $200,000, while lesser-known singers or those who are performing in smaller productions would be making an average of $10,000-$30,000.

When it comes to this career field, location really matters.

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Do Opera Singers Get Paid By Salary?

Opera singers don't necessarily get paid by salary, and they rarely get paid hourly wages.

Instead, these types of singers usually enter into a contract over several months with a theatre company, but they can also appear for one-time performances and get paid per gig.

There are also programs that pay opera singers weekly, called apprentice programs, where singers near the beginning of their journeys get to study alongside more established professionals. 


For weekly apprentice pay, you could expect to receive somewhere around $750 a week, which would be pretty decent for a young singer that is fresh out of school.

When looking at per-performance rates, the average successful opera singer would charge $1000 to $2000 per performance and would be giving about 50 performances per year on average.

That can include a lot of downtime in between work! Don't forget that singers still have to pay taxes and may have hefty management fees of up to 25%. 

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Opera Singer Income Over The Years

The appeal of attending classical music performances has been declining a bit over the years due to arts budget allocations, and the recent pandemic definitely didn't help with revenue for opera companies.

Instrumentalists like piano players may find more opportunities to get paid gigs in comparison to vocal performers. 

The Metropolitan Opera, which is the biggest company in the US, reported a revenue loss of $25 million in 2021, according to AP News.


The Met is known for paying its singers around $200,000, but smaller companies are not so lucky and are getting hit with the same losses.

But the good news is that more people appreciate and pay to enjoy classical music than you would think, and the genre isn't really dying. 

Classical music fans also tend to have higher budgets for entertainment, but it's still pretty hard to make it in the opera world and make a good amount of money consistently. 

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How Hard Is It To Get A Job As An Opera Singer?

You must study music for at least half a decade before going after a job as an opera singer, so it's not something that you should consider for a fast job track.

The opera world is also a very small and competitive place compared to the rest of the music industry with other genres, so you have to stand out as the best in terms of talent, communication, consistency, and personality to really get ahead in this business.

Some voice types have more competition than others; for example, many more soprano singers than mezzo singers compete for parts. 

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Richest Opera Singers In The World 

While I've performed for dozens of gigs that pay a few hundred bucks, some singers are such big names that they can charge over $50,000 per performance.

Renee Fleming, for example, is a famous soprano singer who has a booking fee minimum of $75,000 per event, and I'm sure that's just the starting price for less than an hour.

Her net worth is currently estimated to be $12,000,000, which is surprisingly low compared to the net worth of famous tenors, including Luciano Pavarotti.

Pavarotti was worth nearly $275 million. Jose Carreras is a Spanish operatic tenor with a net worth of $250 million.

Tenor singer Placido Domingo has an even more impressive net worth of $300 million. Tenors are clearly capable of making it big in the classical world, but all voice types can shine in this industry with the right amount of talent and dedication. 

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Increasing Income As An Opera Singer

To significantly enhance your earnings as an opera singer, it is imperative to invest in continuous education and training. Regular lessons, workshops, and participation in opera training programs are vital for refining vocal techniques and musicianship.

Networking plays a pivotal role in the opera world, and active participation in industry events, opera festivals, and joining professional organizations provides valuable opportunities to connect with peers, mentors, and potential collaborators.

Also, the creation of a compelling professional portfolio comprising high-quality recordings, headshots, and a comprehensive resume is crucial.

This portfolio should showcase a diverse repertoire that demonstrates the breadth of your vocal range and artistic abilities.

To keep up with more modern times, utilizing social media platforms to share performances and engage with fans can significantly expand your online presence.

Seeking professional representation, such as a talent agent or manager, can be instrumental in negotiating contracts and securing higher-paying opportunities.

Diversifying your skill set beyond performance, such as teaching, voice coaching, or recording, can provide additional streams of income and contribute to long-term career sustainability.


Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.

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