I promised a list. “What We Listen For”. As if it were really quantifiable. But because most auditors (Thomas and I included) are also teachers and coaches, it’s necessary to try to articulate some goals. Bear with me here; I’m going to give you a laundry list that’s modeled on one by actor and coach Joanna Merlin’s book called “Auditioning”. (It’s intended for actors, but its wisdom easily extends to singing actor. Find it online or at a book store.)
Concentration/focus: We want performers who can create a potent and palpable space for themselves onstage. Stay with the character! Communicate. If you lapse, even for a moment, we hear and see it.
Truth/authenticity: If you’re mimicking someone else’s performance (either vocally or dramatically or both), it won’t ring true. Your decisions should be yours, and they should be personal.
Spontaneity: It’s all about discovery. We care about what happens moment-to-moment, and you have to sing it that way. Don’t telegraph the whole aria/scene/character at once. Life isn’t like that, and art rarely is, either.
Specificity: Detail. Variety. Monochromaticism is one of my own personal bugaboos.
Energy: And never underestimate how much it takes or to what degree it needs to be focused and honed. Project the voice and the personality to the back of the hall and beyond. It will keep you from becoming self-indulgent.
Humor: Yes, there is always humor. And it’s the most important in the most unexpected places.
Courage: Performing is not an easy thing to do. All singers know that. Take it one step farther. Take chances. Base them on experience and skill, but don’t play it safe.
Skill: Ah, you wondered when we’d get to that. Technique. Simply put (and here I travel back to my pianist days), it’s the ability to put all of the tools at your disposal in the service of creating art. More easily said than done, but it’s always important to work at it until you drop, then realize that it’s a means, not an end.

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