One of the first recordings I listened to obsessively was Fritz Wunderlich singing The Magic Flute. It was my first opera (after only 8 lessons... I was dreadful and would be happy to regale you with charming stories of my debut). The sublime perfection of his voice and delivery of text were a beacon as I stumbled blindly through this difficult role. I would heartily recommend anything Wunderlich sings; he creates the most unique soundworld of any singer.
With degrees in math and piano, I originally wanted to be a statistican or an actuary, with music as a hobby. After graduating I went directly into the workforce in component distribution (which is as exciting as it sounds). I felt such a void, with so little music in my life, that I was then compelled to go back to school and become a singer. All the good in my life has sprung from that choice.
Intellectual curiousity is my favorite quality in a student or colleague. With this attribute, one is constantly evolving and refreshing one's career path. It is an important facet for anyone taking on a life in music; the broader an artist's knowledge, the more opportunities will present themselves.