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.