Monday, November 23, 2009

Looking back on the fall audition season

Well, it has been a busy season of auditions and masterclasses so far, and having just finished up our production of Tosca, it's good to take a bit of a break. I have to say I have heard some wonderful singing this fall - no, let me rephrase that - some wonderful performances. What has been particularly exciting is hearing some singers who have grown, not just in their vocalism, but also their presentations.
I truly believe that integrating your physicality and connection with character will add more vibrancy and energy to the sound you make.
As I have mentioned before, the auditions I find most engaging, be it competition, masterclass, or general audition, are those that make me feel that I am encountering a character, not just hearing a vocal performance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good question!

The commenter to my previous post asked what I would ask for as a follow up to a coloratura aria. I would tend to ask for something that showed tempo and style contrast, as well as a different language if possible. I would worry less about trying to hit a different "era". By the end of your audition (if I'm interested), I want as complete a picture of you as I can get.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Can I jump outside my fach in auditions?

What I'm really enjoying is having post topics being driven by questions I'm asked at auditions or by e-mail. The question of who you are as a voice type being set in stone is an interesting one, and certainly a question that has implications for auditions.
To give a quick (and probably predictable) response to this topic heading: it depends.
If you look at any number of operas, you will see that there is a colorful history of different types of voices singing various roles.
Examples (with some well known singers):
Don Giovanni: Bass: Samuel Ramey, Baritone: Thomas Allen
Leonore in Fidelio: Soprano: Karita Mattila, mezzo Christa Ludwig
Figaro (in Marriage): Bass Baritone: Jose Van Dam, baritone: (again) Thomas Allen
Susanna (in Marriage): Soprano (take your pick) Mezzo: Cecilia Bartoli

Anyway, you get the idea - and this doesn't even cover the different weights of voices within these categories doing some of the same roles.

In any case, the dilemma is - how much of a limb can you go out on at an audition? If I'm a soprano, will anyone want to hear me do Rosina? If I'm a lyric baritone with solid low notes, is Se vuol ballare ok? You get the picture.

So, what should you do? My opinion on this is that the less established you are, the smarter it is to stay "between the lines". As you become more established, people who hire you are going to be more willing to take a "not obvious" chance with rep when it comes to you (they may even wind up using this as a marketing hook). As with anything I am saying here, there are exceptions.

I will say more about this in another post, but feel free to weigh in on this.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More about "How much should I do?"

This is my Fall for hearing a lot of auditions. I've just finished my third set of Met Auditions (the Chicago Regionals), and next week I hear the Minnesota Districts, and also do a Masterclass the day after, so I'm looking forward to that. One of the continuing themes I encounter seems to be about how much movement is appropriate in a given audition. I've been asked this particularly regarding competitions vs. main stage or young artist auditions.
There are, of course, varying opinions, but I continue to believe that over the course of a number of auditions of varying types, your best bet is to perform your repertoire in a way that best gives any auditioner the most complete snapshot of who you are as a performer. In other words, don't change who you are to suit a particular audition. Does this mean that you may displease a particular panel because of your dramatic intensity and physicality? Perhaps. But, again, over the course of many auditions, if you constantly try to figure "us" out(meaning the people who hire or give prizes), and change your approach to fit that situation, the more you run the risk of losing sight of who you are as a performer. And being who you are (assuming you have the talent, technique, etc.) when you audition, allows you the best chance to succeed.