Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays

I hope to post again before the end of the year, but in the meantime, I hope you will all have a happy holiday season (and I'm sure many of you are finishing up auditions, Messiahs, etc.!!!) - a rest will be welcome!
The new year will bring new opportunities and challenges, but that's the great thing about turning the page - it's all in front of you!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

How is the audition season going?

Many of you are probably in the midst of auditioning, and I applaud your efforts.  As I recall my own efforts in this regard, I am reminded again how tough a constitution - physically, mentally, and emotionally - is required for successful auditioning.  And I should clarify, by successful, I mean how you met your goals for those auditions.  Since you have no control over how you are perceived or chosen, you cannot judge success by those exterior criteria.  Rather, judge yourself by how well you meet your personal checklist.
Of course, your goal is to get hired, accepted into a program, or to win a competition, but the first step toward meeting that goal, is to be successful in executing your game plan!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Arias in a Scenes Program

We have a scenes program coming this week with our Studio Artists, and in the past, I have shied away from putting arias on a program like this, opting instead for duets, trios, and quartets.
I am really glad each singer is doing a solo scene on this program, and I have really enjoyed directing them.
It gets me back to a point I have made before about preparing arias for auditions.  Staging them out ahead of time makes the performance (or audition) much richer.

This program will have four interesting, contrasting arias:

Da tempeste from Giulio Cesare
Augusta's aria from the Ballad of Baby Doe
Lensky's aria from Eugene Onegin
The Count's aria from Le Nozze di Figaro

Each of these presents unique vocal and dramatic challenges- but each also represents an opportunity for a singer to grow as a singing actor.

Remember to take each of your audition arias and stage them - even if you don't use all of that staging in your audition, you will find that the "residue" of that staging exercise will leave you with a stronger audition aria!

Monday, November 12, 2012

New York

I just got back from almost a week in New York for the Opera America New Works Forum, and I also heard some auditions, and caught the Met's The Tempest.
As a board member of Opera America, this was my first opportunity to visit the new Narional Opera Center, which I can tell you is really stunning!
Hearing auditions in the new Audition Hall was great, and gave a great perspective on hearing singers in audition.  I hope that you get an opportunity to sing there (there are some wondeful studios for rent there as well).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So, before you do an audition......

make sure that everything you do on stage, is something you intend to do.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently sat in on some auditions, and made note of the following things, that I'm sure the singer involved, did NOT intend to do.

  • very frenetic movement, seemingly unrelated to the dramatic content of the aria
  • While it is good to have personality when addressing the judges, don't overdo it to the point of parody or caricature - you risk being remembered more for that than your performance
  • don't walk out of your light when performing - take stock of the lighting on the stage, and stay within its confines - it does you no good, if we lose contact with your face and body
  • unconsciously pulling on your clothing is distracting, whether it be skirt, jacket or shirt - this happens a lot, and will cause your listener/judge/potential hirer to focus on that instead of your performance
  • awkward bows - make sure to learn how to bow in a comfortable, professional manner
  • arm movements that get "stuck" - if you are going to make a gesture, know how to transition to your next position
  • too much fist clenching - this is one of the most obvious signs of nerves that show up onstage - work on this ahead of time, so that that you don't have to try to deal with it when you are nervous
One other thing I think is worth mentioning - the use of props in an audition.  I personally don't mind them, but I have colleagues who do not like it, so be aware that you are taking a bit of a risk by using them.  A good compromise is "miming" the prop - doing all of the same gestures with an empty hand or hands.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sitting in on some auditions

I had the opportunity to sit in on some auditions on Saturday, where I was not the main adjudicator.  This gave me the opportunity to make notes on some things that singers do in an audition setting that I think are worth mentioning.
I, of course, will only mention the activity and not the specific singer. 
I actually heard some very good singing, so I hope you will find this helpful.
We are deep into Carmen right now, but I nonetheless hope to get this posted this week.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Been a little while - odds and ends....

I was on vacation, and we are now into rehearsals for Carmen (with a fantastic cast!).
Classical Singer magazine asked me to expand some of my notes from my presentation at their convention in June.  The result of that expansion is an article that appears in this month's issue.
I hope you can check it out.
Over the next several days, I will touch on some of the points in that article.
In the meantime, if you are in the Milwaukee/Chicago/Madison area, our performances are October 26 and 28.

Friday, September 21, 2012


An important part of the auditioning process is the initial application, which almost always requires recommendations from professionals with whom you have worked.  Sites like Yaptracker have made this an easier process for both recommender and recommendee.  It is not always possible to give the person whom you are asking to write a recommendation a lot of lead time, but when you can, do!!
The longer the lead time, the more in depth and thought out recommendation you will probably get. and as I have mentioned in other contexts, each thing that you do, is usually considered an indicator of how you do everything by those considering hiring you. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A new year about to begin!

I am excited about the fact that next week we begin a new season with our Studio Artists - it's hard to believe this will be the fifth year of our program, and this promises to be an exciting year, with great roles for each of them in all of the operas, plus solo parts in Messiah with the Milwaukee Symphony, and a number of other projects.
The older I get, the faster time seems to go!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The end of summer

Labor Day weekend marks the traditional end of summer, so this is a good time to assess where you are for the year ahead.

I have covered some of this in the past, but it never hurts to revisit!

1.  Audition rep - is it ready?

2.  Support materials -  up to date resumes, photos?

3. recordings - new ones to be done, or do you have them ready?

4.  Updates to companies, directors, colleagues, etc.?  As I mentioned in a previous post, if someone has sugguested that you keep them up to date on your activities, and you had a busy, spring and summer, now is a good time to get ready to send those updates out after the holiday.

That's just a start, but I find that the change of seasons is always a good time for "inventory".

Monday, August 27, 2012

Response to a good question

I had this question to my most recent post about follow-up:
"Just curious what this updating looks a young singer, I have been told this, but am unsure of what to keep them apprised of? I don't want to be a bother to them as busy directors and managers...what would be an appropriate way to follow up?"

The easiest way, and the one I suggest is a simple e-mail (since I will have given the singer my card with that info).  Something along the lines of":  "Mr. Smith, you asked me to keep you apprised of my activities, and I wanted to let you know that I have been accepted into the Apprentice program at the Acme Opera Company, where I will be singing the main stage role of Musetta in La Boheme.  I look forward to singing for you again.  Regards, Sally Brown"

Something like that will certainly remind me of the fact that I liked your audition, and that you have continued to make progress in your career.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Following up

I know I have touched on this subject before, but this is a bit of advice that I don't think can be overstated.  If you do an audition, and the person hearing you hands you their card, and says "please stay in touch with me, I would like to keep track of what you are doing", do it!!  I just got an update this past week from a young singer who did our Young Artist Auditions last year.  I didn't hire her, but told her I was interested in watching her progress, and she followed up - this person has now upped their chances of getting hired here because of that simple step.
You would be amazed (or perhaps not!) how many times I have told a singer to keep me apprised of what they are doing, and then they didn't - that is a missed opportunity!
Remember, this is one of the simple things you can do to give yourself an opportunity to get hired!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A really nice weekend of hearing singers!

I had the opportunity to hear over 60 aspiring high school singers over two days at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute this past weekend.  Then on Sunday, I got to hear some of the Young Artists at the Glimmerglass Festival.  It's exciting to hear young singers at varying degrees of their development.  It's especially invigorating to see and hear high school singers at the very beginning of their journey.  Another example of "it's the journey, not the destination!"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thought for the day......

Why not you?

When I used to audition, this thought was almost never present in my head - "why not me?"  In fact, my thoughts were more along the lines of "they almost certainly won't pick me".  To some extent, this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

I am not pretending that positive thinking will overcome marginal talent, lack of preparation, or sloppy execution.

What I am suggesting is that if you are a talented, well prepared young artist, your belief that you should have the position you are going after will transmit to the people hearing your audition.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Expanded notes from my Classical Singer presentation

Julie Baron at YAP tracker was nice enough to ask me to expand up on the outline that I used for my Classical Singer Convention presentation in June (I published those here).
YAP tracker is publishing the expanded version of those outlines on their site, and I am putting the link here, if you would like to check it out.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I have been working on a "fleshing out" out of the outlines of my presentations that I did at the Classical Singer conference for YAP tracker (I will post them here as well).  As I was doing that, I was looking at some other notes of things that I have been writing about, and I was reminded anew about the whole "it's not the destination, it's the journey" thing.  Since I have now been doing this long enough now to have a healthy storehouse of retrospect, I will say that this is one of the most important things to remember as you approach your singing career.
Hanging in my office is a poster from my first professional opera job, which was Figaro in the Barber of Seville with the Springfield (Ohio) Civic Opera.  As I recall, I made $200 for 3 or 4 performances, and though I was thrilled at the opportunity, I am also fairly sure that I thought that this would be something that would fade in memory as I scaled much loftier operatic heights.
Well, you know what?  I have since had, and continue to have, some wonderful professional experiences, but that first experience is as vivid in my head today as when I did it.
Lesson here?  That seemingly insignificant concert, operatic performance, or other musical event that you are doing now, may be a very significant memory thirty years from now.....savor it!

Friday, July 13, 2012

How many languages do I need?

A question I receive a lot is - do I need to have the big four (Italian, German, French, English) plus perhaps another (i.e. Czech, Russian) for my audition list?

As with many of these types of questions, you may get different answers from different people, but for me the answer is - it depends.

Some fachs don't have obvious choices in certain languages for instance.  I think what is most important is having a list that shows you to the best advantage.  Obviously, you don't want to have a list with five Italian arias, or five English arias, but I have seen a list with something like 2 Italian, 2 French, and an English. 

I think a more important to remember is that regardless of language, your list should show musical, dramatic, and technical variety.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer is Planning time!

Now that my company, the Florentine Opera has moved its offices, I am able to get back to sharing thoughts about auditioning.
For those of you not busy in summer programs (and perhaps even if you are), this is a good time to get yourself organized for the autumn -  whether it is preparing roles or scenes you may be doing with a company, or preparing your audition materials for the fall/winter audition season.

Now that we are in the digital age, one does not have to prepare resumes and photos so far ahead of time, but it is still worthwhile to see if it might be time for a new publicity photo, and double check and update credits on your resume.

If you are going to have to submit mp3 files or cds/dvds in the fall, you should either consider doing a recording session this summer, or prepare the files if you have recently recorded material.  You never know when someone might ask for a recording with a short turn around time!

Wardrobe is another thing worth assessing - are your concert /audition clothes what they need to be, or do you need additions/subtractions, etc......the lull of summer is a good time to take care of that!

And finally, audition rep....have you been practicing/coaching it?  Are the new pieces you've added ready to go??  Now is the time to get that ready...The Fall will be here before you know it (hard to believe when most of us are "enjoying" temps around 100 degrees!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sorry for the time away!

I apologize for being away for a bit - a couple things transpired that knocked me out of the loop...... The biggest is that I ended up in the hospital right after the Classical Singer Convention.... then I went to the Opera America Conference.... then, we moved our offices! Needless to say, it has been an eventful June! I will be back next week with some new posts..... Here's hoping for a calm July!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Second presentation handout from Classical Singer Convention

Getting in and Staying in the Business
William Florescu

Part I – The Big Picture:  Ideas to Ponder
1.     What constitutes success?
2.     It’s the journey, not the destination!
3.     Don’t get too specific too soon
4.     Be open to a path that you might not even be aware of now

Expanding on these points:

1.     Make sure you define what success is for you.  It may be the Met, it may be running a college opera program, it may be a voice studio in your home – as long you as you are defining it, obstacles cannot keep you from having your career.
2.     Every day you sing is a day to cherish and remember – even if you sing at La Scala one day, it may be your Junior Recital that holds your most special memories.   Try to realize that, every day you sing.
3.     If you only look at one stream career wise, you may miss an opportunity that may fulfill you.
4.     What, you don’t think being an Artistic Director is cool??  Your vocal career can take you many places you haven’t thought of yet.  Try to be aware of strengths that you develop along your journey that may hold you in good stead as your career evolves.
Part II – A Corporation of One – You!
It is never too early to begin to think of your career as an independent corporation with you as CEO.
Why? And what does this concept do to help?
1.     By thinking of yourself as a business, it depersonalizes disappointments.  Instead of every unsuccessful audition being soul shattering, you realize with your business model, that a reasonable success rate is one in ten.  This will help keep you balanced.   Remember, baseball players makes millions of dollars for getting a hit three out of every ten times to the plate!
2.     The Business model idea keeps your thinking linear.  When you’re not auditioning or working, you are practicing, coaching, etc.  Instead of these activities seeming like frustrating holding patterns, they become a dynamic part of your business.
3.     You being a corporation of one makes everything you do professional, because everything is feeding into the stream that is your career.  The confidence this engenders will undoubtedly help you feel stronger as an auditionee and performer.
Part III – Your Options
1.     Advanced degrees, artist diplomas, etc.
2.     Various Young Artist programs
3.     Teaching positions
4.     Church work – director, paid soloist
5.     The European option
6.     Arts Administrator
a.     Artistic Director
b.     Executive Director
c.      General Director
d.     Artistic Administrator
7.     Stage Director
8.     Arts Writer
a.     Critic
b.     Scholar
c.      Blogger
d.     Technical vocal author
9.     Artist Manager
And last, but not least, the one we all think about the most….
10. Free lance singer

Whatever strategy you decide on adopting for yourself, if you maintain flexibility and a sense of discovery, you will give yourself a great chance to stay in this career, and be connected to the art form we all love!

First presentation from Classical Singer Convention

I had a great time presenting at the Classical Singer Convention in Chicago, and we had a great turnout for the presentatiions.

Here is the handout from the first presentation:

A Holistic Approach to Preparing for YAP Auditions
William Florescu
I.               What are the “Building Blocks”?
a.     Vocal technique
b.     Languages
c.      Correct repertoire
d.     Musicality/musical accuracy  - these are not the same thing, but you need both!
e.     Selling the piece
1.     A sense of your body
2.     Dramatic intent
3.     A sense of the room
f.      Knowing when you are ready to audition, knowing who can give you the best advice
1.     Teacher?
2.     Coach?
3.     Director?
4.     Administrator?
5.     Peer group?
6.     All or some combination of the above?

II.             The “Hard Goods”
a.     The resume
1.     What to put on? – what’s relevant
2.     What to leave off? – what’s “filler”
b.     The photo
1.     Many more options than there used to be
2.     Cardinal rule – make sure it looks like you, so the person hiring has another aid in remembering you!
c.      The recording
1.     Mp3s are becoming more popular (i.e. YAP Tracker)
2.     CDs – if you burn a cd make sure that it works in all machines – a common problem are cd s that only play on a computer
3.     Make sure the acoustics on different pieces don’t drastically change the quality of your voice.
4.     Particularly early in your career, there should not be large lapses in time between recordings, because the voice can change quickly – make sure you are giving a snapshot of you now.

III.           Applying
a.     Pay to Sing or not Pay to Sing?
1.     Research pay to sings carefully – some are worthwhile, while others are strictly money takers
2.     Year round programs – when you are done with grad school or when you take a hiatus.
3.     Summer programs – some are tiered for different level singers.
b.     Delivery system – more and more companies are using YAP tracker, but check to see  - many resources are available now – Classical Singer, Opera America Career Guide, etc.
c.      Age? – This varies from program to program but you can reasonably expect that 35 will be the upper end of eligibility, with some programs having lower limits.

IV.           Auditioning
a.     Dress
1.     Classy, but don’t draw attention to the outfit – it’s you that should be remembered! 
2.     Keep your hair out of your face!
b.     Scores – have your scores accompanist ready with cuts, page turns, etc.  – this is a problem OFTEN!
c.      Entering the Room – confident, friendly, eye contact – are you aware that the audition has already begun??
d.     Pronounce the titles of your pieces correctly – again, this is an issue far more often than you might imagine.
e.     Assume you will only get to sing one piece – pick one that gives the most complete snapshot of you as a performer

V.             What we (or at least I) are/am looking for
Simply - The complete package!
a.     Yes, first and front and center, a fine voice, but…
b.     Confident delivery, dramatically true
c.      An “individual” artistry – not a sense of mimicry
d.     A desire to communicate – not a “defensive” audition – which is all about not making mistakes, but really saying something through your performance
e.     Command of linguistics – diction, pronunciation, inflection
f.      A sense of preparedness and professionalism – in performance, dress, speaking, etc. – these are all harbingers of whether or not you  will be a good colleague

VI.           After the Audition – feedback?
a.     Try to find out the company’s policy before approaching.
b.     Begin any written request for feedback by thanking the auditioner for taking the time to do so.
c.      Don’t overweight any advice you are given, but rather add it to other advice you are given, and try to find commonalities that can help you in your development.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Classical Singer Convention

I am doing two presentations at the Classical Singer Convention in Chicago this weekend - A Holistic Approach to auditioning for YAPS, and Getting in and Staying in the Business.  In addition I'm doing a panel discussion with Robert Swenson on grad school.  I hope I will see some of you there.
I will post the outlines from both of these presentations next week when I am back.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Busy Times

We open Idomeneo tonight in an exciting new production by John LaBouchardiere.  Next week, I am doing some presentations at the Classical Singer convention in Chicago, as well as some One on One consultations.  I hope some of you who read this blog will be there.
A topic I have been musing on is how to take the natural body control we can get when we are on stage in performance, and capture that for auditions.  I know it was true for me, and I have certainly had people share with me that it easier to feel natural and connected with our bodies in performance than in audition.
I will share some thoughts on this next week, after we get through Idomeneo!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Great time in Fort Worth

I just got back from Fort Worth Opera, where I heard some great young singers, and was joined by fellow judges Angela Maria Blasi (Columbia Artists), Alison Pybus (IMG Artists), Darren Woods, GD at Fort Worth Opera, and David Roth, GD at Kentucky Opera.  A marvelous soprano, Jan Cornelius, took home the top prize, but the entire finals field was very strong!  Committed performances, both vocally and dramatically.  All in all, a great time.  Now, I am back, and we are in the middle of rehearsals for what I think will be a marvelous new production of Mozart's Idomeneo.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Response to a question

I received a question on a post from a few days ago, so I will post the question and my response here:

I just found your blog. Are you giving advice on auditions? I am a lyric coloratura (former Queen of the Night (retired)) and am interested in auditioning for an upcoming production of Flute with a major house. I have been out of the loop for a while and performing mostly sacred rep, but there are two small roles available: Papagena and 2nd Lady, and I know this opera inside and out. I'd like to be considered for either. I look like a papagena. Any advice on what I should lead with if I really want a soubrette role?

Generally the 2nd Lady is a lyric mezzo, so given your past rep, Papagena might be a better choice. Given what they are casting, and what would work for you, I would suggest either the Despina or Zerlina arias, along with whatever rep you currently have. Keep in mind, that if for some reason you are offered the 2nd Lady, you will have to balance a good size lyric soprano above you, and a deep mezzo or perhaps even contralto below you. One other point - (or rather two) - 2nd Lady is by no means considered a small role, and even Papagena is an important comprimario role.
Hope this helps!

Classical Singer Convention

I am looking forward to doing some presentations, sitting on a panel, and doing some "One on Ones" at the Classical Singer Convention in Chicago in May. I always learn so much about the crazy process of auditioning when I get to hear singers do it, and then get to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with them about it. I certainly feel I understand it a lot better now than I did when I was auditioning, and yet I feel, in some ways, I am still just scratching the surface.
One thing I do know, is that a big key to successful auditioning (and by this I mean how you feel about it, not whether or not you get the job) is finding a way to make it a performance, not an athletic event.
I know this is easier said than done, but I hope as I continue to explore this, I can find successful ways of doing just that, to share with you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


This seems to be a subject of some controversy -
specifically, is it alright, and does it do any good to ask for feedback after an audition.
The answer is - it depends. Some companies are very up front about saying - we don't give feedback - don't ask. Others are more open to it. I do give feedback when asked (the reason this comes to mind is that I am in the process of doing it right now after our recent auditions). I like doing it because I remember when I was auditioning, and how much I would like to have heard how I did. By the way, I am talking about when you are unmanaged singer, and have to go after this information on your own.
Having said that I do, I also understand completely those companies that do not. It can be an overwhelming job to give feedback to every singer that asks, and so a blanket no eliminates any inequality in the process.
I suppose the best advice I can give is: If you are not sure whether the company in question gives feedback, ask: The worst that can happen is that you will be told no. In a best case scenario, you may receive some information that will help you continue to grow as a successful artist.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Singer Training Workshop

The Florentine co-hosted a Singer Training Workshop on Saturday with Opera America at our Opera Center, and it was a fascinating, rewarding day. We had singers attend from high school through young artist program level, and we had panelists who run opera companies, are coaches, and an Artist Manager as well.
What is fascinating is that as all of us suspect, there are a variety of opinions about what is the right or wrong way to do something within the context of an audition.
I also had certain things reinforced that you as a singer cannot go wrong with:

1. Be prepared

2. Have your music easily prepared for the pianist

3. Have your resume and photo accurate, clear, and up to date.

4. Be friendly, professional, and courteous in the audition.

I want to thank Jose Rincon from Opera America, and Lisa Hanson, the Florentine Opera's Artistic Administrator for making the day a success!

5. Be a good colleague at all times - the business is small, and negative news travels even quicker than good news!

6. Don't underestimate the importance of creating an active network that will help both your professional and personal life.

7. Use your own barometer to gauge what constitutes success. This will keep you sane, and make the journey more fun!

There are more here that I am probably leaving out, but following these seven things will always hold you in good stead regardless of the unique viewpoint of anyone you sing for.

I want to thank Jose Rincon from Opera America and The Florentine Opera's Artistic Administrator, Lisa Hanson for playing such a large part in making the day a success.

Friday, March 30, 2012 and out

I know this many seem rudimentary, and perhaps for some of you, it in fact is, but.....
Do review your entrance (I mean into the room, not musically), your intros, and your exit.
I know it seems a cliche, but it is in fact true, that we as adjudicators and potential employers start judging you the second you walk into the room.

So, walk with confidence, showing who you are. When you speak, speak clearly. When you introduce your aria, make sure you can pronounce the title and the composer's name correctly (I know that really sounds rudimentary, but you would be surprised how often this is not done well!). When you have completed your audition, thank your panel, and walk out with the same confidence that you walked in with, no matter how you think you just did.

These small things can have a BIG impact on how your audition is received.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Extra!! Extra!!

We are about to start the second day of our Studio Artist Auditions, and something has come up that I don't think I've discussed before here.
Our auditions call for two contrasting arias. In a couple of instances, I have been interested in hearing something else - in a few cases, the auditionee brought extra rep, and in other cases, the auditionee didn't. Let me first say that it is no way a negative for the people who didn't have extra rep with them - I asked for two, and that is all that is required.
My point is really that if you have extra audition repertoire ready, it will never hurt to take it along too, just in case someone like me, goes and asks if you have something extra - whether or not that particular audition calls for it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Susannah, Carlisle Floyd, and taking risks

We open Susannah tomorrow, and it has been a real joy having Carlisle Floyd here for production week. Apropos to auditioning, we have a great cast, who sing and act equally well, but perhaps the thing that strikes me the most about this cast that all singers preparing to auditon should take note of is - RISK TAKING!
By this I mean, within the context of the right blocking and respecting what your colleagues are doing on stage, these singing actors are exploring character by trying different inflection, body language, vocal color, etc.
To parapahrase Olin Blitch in the opera, when it comes to auditioning, and taking risks - showing who you are, and who the character is - tonight's not too soon, and tomorrow might be too late!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I know this a subject covered many times before, but it's important. Ask yourself - why have I selected these arias?
They fit my voice?
They fit me physically?
They fit my personailty?
my teacher told me they fit me?
I like them?

A lot of possibilities here...and I think there are probably multiple answers.
I will give some thoughts on possible answers coming up.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sorry, it's been a bit busy!

It has been quite a week - Sunday, our (Florentine Opera's) recording of Elmer Gantry won two Grammys - and I was fortunate enough to be able to go - very exciting. We are getting ready to choose auditionees for our Studio Artist program, and rehearsals for Susannah, which I'm directing, begin in a week from Monday!
Having said all of that, I will certainly add some posts next week.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A reminder

Any of you who might be thinking of auditioning for the Florentine Opera Studio, the deadline is fast approaching!! Please visit Yaptracker if you are interested.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thoughts from Green Bay

I did a Masterclass this week at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, and had a great time talking to the students, and hearing a couple of them sing. I appreciate Sarah Meredith Livingston setting it up, and giving undergraduate students the opportunity to hear more about the business. I thought that I would copy the handout here that I used this week.

“Setting up” the Audition –William Florescu

I. Preparation – Nothing that is mentioned past this point means anything if this is not taken care of – the main areas of preparation are:

a. vocal – your lessons, technical work, etc.

b. musical – coaching, musical accuracy, style, etc.

c. lingual – also coaching – diction, articulation, pronunciation, etc.

d. cosmetic – your resume, head shot, clothes, hair, make up, etc. – this is one that is generally treated as either too important, or not important enough

e. physical – the dramatic delivery of your piece, your entrance into the room, what you do with your hands, what you do between arias, how you address the audience (whether that be a paying audience, adjudicators, vocal jury, etc) – letter e is the category that is most often left to fate or inspiration, and therefore, the area that is most often badly handled in an audition

II. Why is letter e so important?

a. The externals of your auditions either invite the “audience” into the inner kernel of what you have to offer or it keeps them out.

b. Being in control of the externals overcomes a number of the internals:

1. nerves

2. breath control

3. memory

4. confidence

5. there are numerous ones you can add to this list!!

c. As much as most of us want to believe that it is our voice that will linger in the memory of those who hear us, the truth is, that in many cases, it is how we carry ourselves from the moment we come on to the stage to the moment that we leave, that makes the most lasting impression (assuming that you are not the next Pavarotti, Streisand, or Fleming – in that case, all bets are off! – but remember these are the exceptions, and most of us have to plan our lives around NOT being the exception.)

d. We will experience your externals long before we get to your internals, and as they, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

III. What do I do about it? – Most of us know that we need to take voice lessons, need to work with a coach, need to get time on stage, etc. Most of us (and I include myself in this category) do not know how to improve the externals of our auditions, but there are ways!

a. teachers and coaches – this seems redundant since they were mentioned as a separate category, but teachers and coaches have been in your shoes, and a great resource for what to do in your audition when it comes to the externals.

b. Colleagues – your fellow singers, assuming there is an honest bond of trust and support, can give you feedback on how you “come off”. Sing for each other, critique, etc. – it’s amazing how well YOU will improve yourself, when you have to articulate what you think about what a fellow artist is doing.

c. YOU – there are so many ways to self diagnose these days with video, digital recorders, and then, of course, that most advanced instrument of all – the mirror!! Don’t be afraid to analyze the externals of what you do (even to the extent of analyzing how you walk in the room!!

IV. Other resources – As opposed to even twenty years ago, there are a number of resources out there for singers to help find out what you need to do! Some of them are:

a. Classical Singer Magazine, and website

b. Opera America -

c. The New Forum for Classical Singers -

d. The Opera Audition (this is my audition blog) -

These just scratch the surface – remember, it is a very competitive field, and you need to put every advantage into your column that you can. And remember the advice of Oscar Wilde – be yourself, everyone else is taken!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's your decision

I was speaking with a singer the other day about whether or not a certain aria that involved props should be completely pantomimed as though the props were being used.
This is an interesting question, and I have seen it done, both successfully and unsuccessfully.
What I think it comes down to is: Are you comfortable doing the aria this way? If you are not, it will transmit, and the very least, distract the person hearing you from focusing on your various strengths.
Whenever you have a question about whether a physical approach you are trying to an aria works, have a trusted coach, teacher, or colleague watch you, and/or video yourself. The feedback you get will help you decide how to proceed.
Again, your best chance of success is always tied to your confidence in what you are doing - vocally and physically.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Show them what you are, not what you aren't

One of the really great things about hearing the Met auditions in various locales and circumstances, is getting to chat with singers after the auditions. This allows me to verbalize some things that sometimes float around in my head, but don't get "spit out" verbally.
One such conversation took place recently with a talented young soprano. We were talking about repertoire, etc. and she asked some very good questions. During this discussion, we talked about the fact that too many singers show who they are not during an audition, as opposed to who they are. For instance, if you are a lyric mezzo who does not yet have Non piu mesta where you want it, don't sing it (I cannot tell how many times I have experienced this!) Instead, do arias that show your strengths as they now are. If that is Cherubino or Stephano, that is fine!
One of things singers need to remember is that one of the things that will win you points with the people for whom you audition, is having a sense of who you are and where you are as a singer.
I will expand upon this as we go along, but it's a good thing to remember.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Make your intensities match

An interesting thing I've noticed in auditions is that the intensity and focus a singer may bring to a piece musically may not be matched by what he or he or she is doing dramatically, and then it may switch on the next piece. Be sure you are prepared to perform vocally, physically, and dramatically - consistently from piece to piece. when I do feedback sessions with singers they are generally aware that these inconsistencies occur. Do a checklist of your audition/competition rep to be sure that you are prepared to perform each of your arias completely, to give yourself your best shot.

I am off to judge the Met auditions in Lincoln, Nebraska tomorrow if our midwest weather will cooperate.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A heads up about auditions for our Studio Artist Program

The Florentine Opera Company is now accepting applications for the 2012-2013 Florentine Opera Studio.

Application can be found at:

You do not need to be a paying subscriber to YAP Tracker to use the
application form, although you will need an account (guest accounts
are available; see the website for details). Registration can be
completed at

Application deadline is February 10, 2012.

More information regarding the Florentine Opera Studio can be found at:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year

Hard to believe it is 2012.....I hope the audition season in December was a productive one if you were involved in that. I have two weeks of Met Auditions coming up - this week in Salt Lake City, and the next week in Lincoln, Nebraska.
I would love to hear from some or all of you, and see what topics you would like to see addressed during 2012 - I am going to try to be on here more often this year, with more observations ( I guess this qualifies as a sort of New Year's resolution!)
In any case, I hope we can all enjoy some productive music making in 2012!