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Perspectives: Audition Advice for Singers Second Edition


OPERA America — the nonprofit service organization for opera — leads and serves the entire opera community, supporting the creation, presentation, and enjoyment of opera. Artistic services help opera companies and creative and performing artists to improve the quality of productions and increase the creation and presentation of North American works. Information, technical, and administrative services to opera companies reflect the need for strengthened leadership among staff, trustees, and volunteers. Education, audience development, and community services are designed to enhance all forms of opera enjoyment. Perspectives: Audition Advice for Singers is a resource from OPERA America’s Singer Career Network. Established in 1996, the Singer Career Network is the only service for opera singers that is in daily communication with the professional field — general directors, artistic administrators, artist managers, and more — keeping singers informed with news and trends critical to their advancement. Recognizing that singers have unique concerns and needs for information, OPERA America offers publications and services created and advanced with the advice of hundreds of professionals who teach, coach, advise, and audition them. Publications include the acclaimed Career Guide for Singers, the most comprehensive directory of opportunities for singers; Audition Connection, a bimonthly audition newsletter with the most accurate and complete opera announcements; Voices, a singer newsletter that features career advice for singers at all levels from the opera industry; and the complete Perspectives Series, which includes four volumes of wisdom from opera professionals on Business Advice for Singers, The Singer/ Manager Relationship, and Making Choices: From Classroom to Contracts, in addition to this new edition of Audition Advice for Singers. OPERA America recognizes that the singer’s support system — including training programs, universities and teachers, competitions, and artist managers — is vital to the success of the Singer Career Network. These organizations and individuals help OPERA America identify the informational needs of singers. At the same time, OPERA America is uniquely positioned to provide expanded informational and technical assistance to these constituencies. In the quest for a performing career in opera, there is no clear path to success. OPERA America’s Singer Career Network serves as a resource to singers. We believe that the more access singers have to information, the better chance they have of making informed career decisions and building their own unique and successful careers. Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO Diana Hossack, Managing Director

copyright 2005 by OPERA America Kelley Rourke, Editor Katherine Ehle, Layout and Design Andy Weiskoff, Cover Design

OPERA America

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Table of Contents Preface ................................................................................................................................................. Introduction ......................................................................................................................................... Beverly Sills

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Chapter One: Types of Auditions A Guide for the Beginning Singer.................................................................................................... Patrick Hansen, Ithaca College and Glimmerglass Opera

Singing for a Chorus Master............................................................................................................ Joseph Lawson, Pittsburgh Opera

Auditioning for a Choral Ensemble..................................................................................................... Chorus America

Competitions: An Opportunity to be Heard......................................................................................... Gayletha Nichols, Metropolitan Opera

Viewing Training Program Auditions from Both Sides...................................................................... Sheri Greenawald, San Francisco Opera

Company Auditions — Making the Most of Your 10 Minutes............................................................. Susan Ashbaker, Opera Company of Philadelphia

Auditioning for and with an Artist Manager........................................................................................ Janice Mayer, Janice Mayer & Associates

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Chapter Two: Preparing for Auditions Making Informed Choices.................................................................................................................... Nicholas Muni, stage director

Prepare and Let Go.............................................................................................................................. Chantal Lambert, L’Opéra de Montréal

Dear Auditioner.................................................................................................................................... Karen Peeler, Ohio State University

Pianists are Key to Auditions............................................................................................................... Diana Hossack, OPERA America

Prepare for a Winning Audition........................................................................................................... Peter Russell, Opera Colorado

The Ten Commandments of Auditioning.............................................................................................. Darren K. Woods and Keith A. Wolfe, Fort Worth Opera

Best Aria Forward................................................................................................................................ Roger Pines, Lyric Opera of Chicago

Be an Individual.................................................................................................................................... Gordon Ostrowski, Manhattan School of Music

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The Singer Who Performs....................................................................................................................

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Jay Lesenger, Chautauqua Opera

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Chapter Three: Performing Auditions Give a Performance.............................................................................................................................. John A. Anderson, Herbert Barrett Management

The Psychology of the Audition............................................................................................................ Gary Glaze, University of Southern California

Auditioning is About Communication.................................................................................................. Felicity Jackson, Florida Grand Opera

Auditions are Performance Opportunities.......................................................................................... Richard Harrell, stage director

First Impressions Count....................................................................................................................... Ken Benson, Columbia Artists Management, Inc.

Emphasizing Your Assets.....................................................................................................................

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Jonathan Pell, The Dallas Opera

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Audition Character............................................................................................................................... Christopher Mattaliano, Portland Opera

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From Technique to Presentation..........................................................................................................

Evelyn Lear, soprano, and Thomas Stewart, baritone

Think Performance............................................................................................................................... Sara Tornay, Tornay Management

Someone Gets Lucky............................................................................................................................ Richard Bradshaw, Canadian Opera Company

Concentrate on the Essentials............................................................................................................. Christine Bullin, Chanticleer

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Chapter Four: After the Audition What Makes a Singer Employable?..................................................................................................... Richard Pearlman, Lyric Opera of Chicago

Is No News Good News?....................................................................................................................... Kelley Rourke, OPERA America

Beyond the Voice: Understanding Casting Practices.......................................................................... Excerpts from OPERA America’s Singer Workshops

Accepting a Contract............................................................................................................................ Excerpt from Voices, OPERA America’s singer newsletter

Contract Basics: Sign Before You Sing................................................................................................ Elizabeth R. Koepcke, attorney

Putting Together the Total Package.................................................................................................... Matthew Lata, Florida State University

Index......................................................................................................................................................

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Perspectives: Audition Advice for Singers

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Preface Perspectives: Audition Advice for Singers features the advice of over 80 opera professionals, including singers, directors, conductors, coaches, and teachers, as well as general directors, artistic administrators, and training program personnel from opera companies. All agree that auditions are not the optimal way to assess singers, but the restrictions of time, money, and human resources leave few other options. There is no definitive method for performing the best audition: The tastes of individuals and the unique aesthetics of companies make the process highly subjective, and as a result, somewhat frustrating. There are, however, some areas of consensus. Be honest on your resume. Don’t start with a long aria. Offer a wide variety of arias (including different styles and languages). Don’t have long conversations with the pianist. Never, never sing sick. Beyond these, there are few generalizations. The essays and articles in this book provide specific insights from professionals for whom you may audition. Use this information to your benefit. In reading the entire book, you will become aware of other ways that you might prepare, perform, and follow up your auditions. This book is divided into four chapters: Type of Auditions; Preparing for an Audition; Performing an Audition; and After the Audition. You will find information about researching audition opportunities, selecting repertoire, preparing musically and mentally, gathering feedback, understanding company casting policies, and more. For better or worse, auditions are part of a singer’s life. The sooner you are prepared to face real or imagined obstacles, the more likely you are to be successful. OPERA America is pleased to release this expanded second edition of Perspectives: Audition Advice for Singers, which is one of the Singer Career Network’s most popular publications. We hope it increases your awareness of the audition process and provides information to help you make informed career decisions. Best of luck. OPERA America 2005

OPERA America wishes to acknowledge the many people who contributed essays and participated on panels and interviews, without whom this publication would not exist. These professionals were generous, not only with time, but with a sincere willingness to share expertise and wisdom. On behalf of the OPERA America board, staff, and members, and of singers who will benefit from these observations and advice, we extend our deepest thanks and appreciation.

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Perspectives: Audition Advice for Singers  

Provides valuable tips from opera professionals on musical preparation, repertoire and language selection, audition materials, stage present...

Perspectives: Audition Advice for Singers  

Provides valuable tips from opera professionals on musical preparation, repertoire and language selection, audition materials, stage present...

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