Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why do I hear about singers doing rep they "shouldn't"?

Perhaps because of the following. This question also serves as a point regarding auditions. Remember, when a General Director hears you, he or she is thinking in terms of what will work in his or her particular theatre. My last theatre was 500 seats, so I was able to cast certain shows in ways that I can't here where the house I usually perform in is 2200 seats. Smaller houses usually mean smaller pits, which mean smaller orchestras - which means that singers who might not usually sing a certain role may actually get to do it in that smaller house.


  1. Very interesting!!! I had never thought of that!

  2. Singers often sing one or two things that are a bit of a stretch. They do this for so many reasons...look, being hired by a person/company that likes him/her and will find a way to make it work, personal dramatic tendency (I hate this one), among other reasons.

    However, I've never found that anyone will fault a singer for singing a role (well) that might be a bit too small. I'd rather hear more voice in a specific role than is the norm than less (and sometimes not hearing the singer at all).

    Yes, there are reduced orchestrations out there for all sorts of large operas...some done by the composer himself (like Fanciulla) and some not (like Turandot...and I think, Salome...but I should check that one). I've found that when a singer who wouldn't normally get away with singing the role in full orchestration actually has a success with an instance like this, that it's usually a seasoned and very experience singer...not someone fresh off the turnip truck. And even then, some of them crash and burn...or push. I've seen very successful singers who should be singing stuff no bigger than full lyric do something like Salome or Tosca, leaving a lasting (and note pretty) impression on their voices.

    And there's also something to be said for color. Many of these roles, reduced orchestration or not, require a certain color of a voice (at least there are many roles in which I prefer certain colors). Just because you can honk out the notes doesn't mean that it's a great fit.

    And finally, singing roles that are typically too big (reduced orchestration or not) can make a singer look a bit fickle on a resume or bio. And a GD, AD, manager, etc. might question how well a singer knows him/herself if there's too much fach crossing (a little, some is truly normal). These aren't decisions to be made lightly. They should be done with a truly honest team (voice teacher, coach, manager, etc.). There is a time to move a notch bigger in repertoire and a place to try something out, but you want to make sure it's successful as opposed to a situation that could put a voice and/or reputation at risk.