Friday, October 30, 2009

Opera Center

Here's the loading dock side of the new Wayne and Kristine Lueders Florentine Opera Center which I referred to in my previous post.

A new season - and a preview

I am quite excited about tonight - Our Studio Artists (there's the tie-in to an audition blog!) will be doing selections from Tosca, an incredible new American opera, Elmer Gantry, Rigoletto and Messiah at the new Lueders Opera Center. Why oratorio? The Milwaukee Symphony is using our Studio Artists as soloists for that piece in December, which we're quite excited about. Our Studio Artists are soprano Sarah Lewis Jones, mezzo Julia Elise Hardin, tenor Aaron Blankfield, and baritone Scott Johnson.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The New Frontier

So, the past few months have taught me some lessons about the new paradigm in which we all live.
While my comments here are not specifically about auditioning, they do have to do with being assessed by a whole new group of people. I'm speaking of course now about what we call "social media". Milwaukee had some interesting times this summer with our other opera company, and much of it was played out through blogs, e-mail, comments on newspaper online columns, etc. Having just completed directing a show, I noted that not only does the review show up online, but also comments to that review. In addition, all types of bloggers will comment on performances that you may be involved in as well. I bring all of this up to say to you as singers that if you believed you needed a thick skin before to survive being assessed in auditions and in newspaper reviews, you now have a whole new frontier of commentary on your singing - and in many cases, the qualifications of those people making comment may vary greatly.
I bring all of this up not to frighten you off, but to let you know that those of us who audition you and hire you are well aware of this phenomenon, and I think in most cases, know how much weight to give it.
I would be curious to know of any experiences that you have had in this "brave new world"!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More auditions and a production

I am back home, having just directed Pagliacci, and judging the District Met Auditions in Washington, D.C.
Competition Auditions are somewhat a different animal than house auditions or young artist auditions, and while it is inappropriate to comment on specific auditions, I did find talking to the auditionees one on one for both these and the Wisconsin district auditions very interesting. One of the most frequent comment/questions I got had to do with whether or not a singer should do things different presentationally in a competition vs. a company audition. In other words, in a competition, should a singer back off doing too much acting and focus on "the voice". This is an interesting question, and one that may be answered differently, depending on whose answering. Certainly for a competition, you will have a variety of people listening - most recently for me, it was me (a company director and a stage director), a voice teacher and a coach. Obviously, we're all going to have a different take on things. I always want to see a person engaged dramatically (this doesn't mean that a teacher or coach don't by the way). But, in the end, I will return to one of my basic themes: You have the best chance to be successful, no matter what the circumstance, when you do "your performance", and don't worry about getting into the head of the person hearing you.
You will never be able to know what will please who, and if you try to do that, you will probably please no one - including yourself!
On the other hand, if you sing what you sing best, and do it with musical and dramatic intensity you may not get every audition or competition, but ultimately at some point what you do will resonate with a panel or a General Director, because it is authentically who you are.
This of course, doesn't mean, that you shouldn't take advice, and try to improve, but it does mean you should try to chart a steady course that leads consistently on a path that takes you where you want to go. Let me know what you think.

For my next post, I'm going to comment on "blogs" of all types, having just had some interesting experiences related to that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Busy Times!

Thanks for some great responses to the last post. I am directing Pagliacci and haven't had a chance to post for a bit. I also had the opportunity to judge the Met auditions last weekend (and have three more coming up), and had some good conversation about auditioning with my fellow judges, and will try to post some follow-up thoughts to that over the next couple of days. I should also add that there was some really fine singing at those auditions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


This is an interesting question, and recent auditions have made me think about it in a more active way - not sure if I have an answer for this question yet, but anyway, here goes.....
If you find that you dramatically, temperamentally, and vocally suited to a certain genre, is it advisable on the front end of your career to try to guide yourself toward that, or is it safer and smarter to be a "generalist" and let being more specific wait?
I have some ideas on this that have changed over the years, but I would be curious to read other's thoughts.....