Friday, November 20, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...., I'm not talking about Xmas -the season of light-up, inflatable Santas hooked up to an electric air pump, different colored 'luminarios' made of recycled plastic milk jugs, and the ubiquitous 'doorbuster' run-over-your-grandma-with-a-cart-to-get-to-the-tickle-me-Elmo shopping deals. I'm talking about auditions. Yes, friends, I'm hoping to extend the Year of Figaro. Heck, I'd take a week to 10 days of 3rd soap-boiler if it brought in a decent fee.

The very thought of auditioning fills me with dread. I was just looking at the website of an opera company I will be auditioning for this season- checking out the cast of their current show, and immediately I think, "how am I going to compete with [baritone x] for this part?" Granted, that is terrible line of thinking that will get me nowhere, but stay with me for a minute. [baritone x] is in their current show; he is more than capable than singing [role y] for them next season: QED. He will be hired instead of me.

The situation is complicated by the fact that in this economy I'm competing with people a level above me for the jobs I used to get. Everyone is scrambling to get work, and they are willing to work at smaller companies for smaller fees. Said smaller companies are thrilled to get those singers at those fees: QED. Those singers will be hired, not me.

Do you see a pattern forming here? I mean, other than me whining and making excuses, that is (or misusing: QED!)

You see the thing is, faithful readers, I'm not so good at auditioning. That sounds like a total cop-out, and it probably is. But the fact remains. It is not my strongest skill. I am great at what I do. I am fabulous at rehearsing. I will work my tail off with a director and a conductor to find what will work the best for a production. I am a great colleague, a decent singer, and a shameless stage whore. But walking into a crappy studio and cranking out arias, well, I am kind of sucky at that.

Here's what I wish.

A) Audition with the music staff of an opera company. Set it up like a coaching. Rehearse a section of music for 15 minutes, and then 'perform it.' Let the company see how you work and see if you're a good fit. This would allow a singer to break the ice a little bit. For pete's sake, at least it would give us a second chance at nailing the high note.

B) Set up remote auditioning. In this day and age, don't you think we could do an audition or two by Skype? Granted, I live in Minnesota so I have a vested interest in this. But even if I didn't, there are lots of audition seasons where I've been too busy working to audition (I'm not complaining about it, it's just the way it is). And isn't the sound on the built-in microphone/speakers on my Mac as good as friggin' NOLA studios? Cheesh.

C) Get hired based on your performances. OK, this happens. But it should happen more. People see what you can do on stage, in the moment, in context. Then they ask you to come sing for them in a little box of a studio, in a completely inauthentic environment, with a piano. ?!?!?

D) Just do what everyone wants to do, and have auditions at the bar. I mean come on, right? Sure that other guy can sing really clean coloratura, but can he tell you the difference between a Kölsch and an AltBier? Can he tell you when the Reinheitsgebot went into effect, or even what it is? Where are you priorities?

I know, I know, I know. Auditions are high-pressure situations by design. It separates the wheat from the chaff. After all, a performance is a high-pressure situation, no? Yes. But, cripes, at least you get to rehearse it for a month.

Before you start chastising me about why auditions need to happen the way they do (you know who you are, readership of one) and that I'm just making excuses, rest assured- you're right. I am. They do. I'm just nervous as H-E-Double-Hockeysticks. I only get to New York a few times a year, and I'm not fancy and high-falutin' so I feel like the cards are stacked agin' me sometimes. I love singing, and I'm singing the best I ever have. And I can rehearse the crap out of anything. I just need to bring that to lifeless box of an audition room. Then I'll have something. Plus, it wouldn't hurt if I lost 50 pounds. And had a microphone mounted on my hyoid bone.

See you at the doorbusters.



  1. Toi, toi, toi from one Midwestern singer to another.
    : )

  2. All of these are valid points.

  3. love this...i too suck at auditions. :(