Friday, December 21, 2012
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
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
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
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
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
Monday, October 22, 2012
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
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
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
The older I get, the faster time seems to go!
Friday, August 31, 2012
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
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
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
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
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
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Here is the handout from the first presentation:
Friday, May 25, 2012
I will post the outlines from both of these presentations next week when I am back.
Friday, May 18, 2012
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
Thursday, April 19, 2012
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Having said all of that, I will certainly add some posts next week.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012
“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:
2. breath control
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 http://www.classicalsinger.com/
b. Opera America - www.operaamerica.org/
c. The New Forum for Classical Singers - http://www.nfcs.net/
d. The Opera Audition (this is my audition blog) - http://www.theoperaaudition.blogspot.com/
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
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
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
Thursday, January 5, 2012
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 http://www.yaptracker.com/register.
Application deadline is February 10, 2012.
More information regarding the Florentine Opera Studio can be found at:
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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!