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.....


  1. I think it depends on which fork in the road you've decided to take, as a path to a career: Young Artist Program, Competitions, and/or the slow climb to bigger-better roles at bigger-better companies.

    I think that the Young Artist Program audition circuit encourages "generalism" - and one substantial cause of this is the audition aria "language requirement" on most of their applications - with an understanding that frankly, most applicants aren't ready for MOST roles anyway. Which is why, at 23, I had both Marguerite and Susanna on my rep list.

    As I am now moving into more mainstage auditions, many of them general, the focus is on putting my best self forward. I gravitate toward audition repertoire to which I'm suited in all the areas you mention - "you're PERFECT for this role!" as opposed to "you could possibly sing this". When I choose the former, my voice shines forth because there is absolute truth to my performance.

    I admit, also, that I am often less than trusting of a casting director's imagination - I tend to assume that s/he has specific eyes and ears for a Raspberry soprano if the company is doing Raspberry Opera, so if I truly stand out as a Blueberry, it doesn't serve anyone for me to try to offer a little of everything, and make no impression at all.

  2. Interesting question! I think if you're dramatically, vocally and temperamentally suited to a certain genre, you are going to sing it with a depth of understanding that will really stand out from the crowd

    Of course, this is great if there are enough jobs in that genre for you to earn a living. I suspect the days are gone where you can make a career on four roles?

    Does being a generalist mean that you can potentially sing anything? Because you can't. Different roles (even by the same composer) are written with different weights of voice, movement and phrasing, and both dramatic and vocal tessitura in mind.

    But if by generalist you mean someone who is comfortable singing roles by Mozart, Handel, Strauss and Verdi, then yes. You can usually find roles within those composers that might be vocally, dramatically and temperamentally steered towards your particular skills.

    If you are at the very beginning of your career, then some generalisation is going to be inevitable, but you're not going to be singing Susanna and Turandot in the same audition - that's just too confusing a message for the poor casting director.

    It also depends on who you are singing for... the job of a professional company is to cast someone who can sing (in the performances and the more gruelling rehearsals) the entire role today, not in four years' time. Whereas the job of the Young Artists organisations is to nurture new talent, so there is more of a focus on present AND future abilities.

    Part of this is about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and part of it is about recognising the level and purpose of the people you are auditioning for.

  3. I'd like to know whether or not the Met Audition is more like an opera aud or a YA program aud. Do they want to hear something you could sing today, or do they listen for potential?