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.