Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The "Defensive" Audition

I take a back seat to no one in enjoying recordings. In fact, we still have a basement full of vinyl recordings of great operas. In fact, if Youtube and iTunes had been around when I was in college, I probably would have flunked out. As it was, I spent most of my time in the music library comparing versions of arias sung by my favorite baritones Leonard Warren and Piero Cappuccilli when I should have been in class piano or music theory. So, what does all of this have to do with my post title? Well, here's the thing. Because of "perfect" studio recordings, where every blemish and blip can be edited out, we have a couple of generations (at least) of singers who feel that a great audition means singing without any blemish. What this has caused, in my view, is a situation where people audition, hoping to not make a mistake. This is really ashame. If you think back to why you got into this business in the first place, you'll remember that it probably has something to do with an unstoppable urge to express yourself with your voice - pure and simple. We (meaning teachers, directors, coaches, artistic directors, etc.) take all of that energy away in pursuit of a clean, correct....you get the idea, audition. Some of the best auditions I've ever heard contained blown high notes, word slips, a breath in the wrong place (Oh horror!!). Why did I consider these flawed auditions so good? Because the singer hit me right between the eyes and ears with communication, and a desire to really "speak" with their singing. As I mentioned in an earlier post, most of the auditions you will sing are crapshoots at best. Since you know that going in, why not leave it all out there. Really express yourself - remember your first high school voice lesson, and the pure exhilaration that you felt. If you combine that with all the hard work you've done since, you will leave that room feeling successful, whether you get the job or not.


  1. I'm so pleased you mentioned that, Bill. It is indeed something singers struggle with, and I think we also tend to sing the same aria time and again out of context that it's often a blessing in disguise when things don't go quite as planned (or as they went the last 9 times you sang it at an audition) because it brings you back to the basics, back to the technique, back to the story, the text, the music... Great post. Thanks!