In our recent story about Rita Cantos Cartwright, we learned when the longtime opera chorus member usually has time to go to the store.

It’s late:

After the rehearsal ends, at 9:05 p.m., some of the chorus members head for bargain-priced tacos at a restaurant a few blocks away. Cartwright has other plans. She stops at an all-night pharmacy to buy more vitamins. Then she goes home to have a snack and join her husband in watching reruns of Frasier, their favorite comedy show.

After the story ran, I heard from Patti Minton, whose calculations of how singers make it here sparked an interesting conversation here in Behind the Scene about the cobbled-together income most musicians, especially vocalists, rely on.

Minton shared some more context on the life of a singer:

Rita is one of my dear friends from SDO (San Diego Opera). I think she started in the chorus the season after I did, but she has stayed longer than I did. Her daily routine probably isn’t typical for a chorister, if there’s any such thing as typical. Lots of choristers work all day at nonmusical jobs. Maybe they get home for an hour for some dinner and to change their clothes, then they go to rehearsal until 10 or 10:30 p.m.

I only did that for about five years when I was considerably younger. It’s killer, considering you work all weekend as well as weeknights (depending on whether you have a church job). A lot of singers, actors and artists live in North Park where I have an apartment, and back in the late 80s and early 90s much of San Diego’s artistic community could be found in the Vons at 30th and Howard after 10:30 on any given night. It was the only time you could get your grocery shopping done.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. You can contact me directly at or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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