Announcing the Wolf Trap Opera Studio

Big news today. We’re launching a new division of the Wolf Trap Opera Company next summer – an introductory tier designed for singers who are just about to finish or who have recently finished their undergraduate work. It’s called the Wolf Trap Opera Studio, and auditions will be held in February 2007.

Go here for complete information, and/or keep reading for an informal description.

Why?

Because our Filene Young Artists are all at a relatively advanced place in their young careers – generally finishing that final Performer Diploma or Certificate, and finishing up a series of YAPS (young artist programs) – we have no viable way to contribute to the developing careers of those singers who are beginning their journeys.

We’re flattered by regular inquiries from folks who recognize our track record of identifying and promoting emerging talent and who want our advice on opportunities for the 20-23-year-old set. (Forgive the chronological reference: There is no age limit for this program, but we will be targeting undergraduate juniors & seniors as well as first-year graduate students, and this is the typical age range. If you’re a late starter, and you’re still in this academic target, then you’re in our demographic.)

For a number of years we’ve been toying with the idea of providing opportunities for younger singers, and we’ve finally been able to put together all of the pieces (financial, philosophical, artistic, logistical) in order to launch the Studio.

Logistics

Dates: For 2007, the Studio program will run from May 28 – July 29. We expect to choose somewhere between 12 and 16 singers for next season.

Singers will sing bit roles and chorus roles in our two operas at The Barns (our small venue). There will be regular individual coaching and group instruction (movement, diction, auditioning, etc). Note: There will be no voice teacher in residence.

Singers will receive a small stipend and local dormitory housing. They will be responsible for their own transportation, both to/from Wolf Trap, and local. (This means bringing or renting a car.)

Apply to Audition

We have absolutely no idea what kind of response to expect. Anecdotal evidence from our colleagues indicates that there will be substantial interest in the Studio. But for a number of reasons, we have to start small. So, in this first year, we’ve set aside 3 audition days – two in New York (Feb 17-18) and one here in Vienna (Feb 24). If we have a moderate level of response, we might be able to hear everyone who falls in our target pool (see more below). If there’s a higher quantity of applications, we may need to screen.

You will find a link to a fillable and printable PDF application form, as well as details on other materials that must accompany your application, at http://wolftrap.org/opera/studioapp.pdf. Starting next week, you’ll also be able to navigate to an interactive online application by visiting that same website. The interactive application will allow you to fill out the form, upload your resume and other materials, and pay online.

For the audition, we’re asking for three contrasting pieces, either arias or art songs. (We will probably only be able to hear one of these selections, and possibly a portion of a second.) One selection must be in English, one must be in Italian or French. We’re also asking for a contemporary monologue, no more than one minute long.

How to Figure Out Whether to Apply

Minimums:

You should be at least a mid-level undergraduate student with a declared voice major. Rising juniors as of summer 2007 are on the borderline: rising and graduating seniors preferred.

You should have prepared (and ideally, performed) at least a handful of opera scenes.

You should have a few years of solid vocal study under your belt and be vocally stable enough to spend eight weeks away from your teacher. We have very experienced coaches on staff, but no one is going to mess with or be able to fix basic significant technical issues.

Maximums:

If you have finished or are past the first year of a graduate program, you’re too advanced for this particular demographic, and you should consider applying to audition for our Filene Young Artist program. That doesn’t mean that you are a prime candidate for the latter; it just means that we consider you to be too experienced for this entry-level demographic, and that you are at the point where we are interested in following you for as a young artist candidate. There is a gap between the “sweet spots” for the two demographics (that of the Studio and that of the Filene Young Artist.)

If you have sung featured roles with local or regional companies, you’re probably out of this pool.

If you have already done more than one higher level YAP/apprentice program, you’ve probably moved beyond this type of opportunity.

‘Tis the Season

I’m a grouchy yet good-natured Grinch about the inescapability of the seasonsal Messiah sing-along. I long for the occasional Christmas Oratorio or Ceremony of Carols. (And after all, the Hallelujah Chorus is an Easter song…) However, fresh from this year’s Handel free-for-all at my home parish, I will admit (as I do every year, in spite of myself), that it was pretty cool.

I’m not a fan of the big-budget concert hall variety of sing-along, but our homespun version still holds a place in my heart. A 9-person chamber orchestra, about 35 in the chorus, and another couple hundred in the strictly-participatory audience. All the soloists come from the ranks of the choir, and a generation of teenagers is passing through the ranks of the orchestra, the chorus, and front-of-house – including my own cellist daughter and general factotum (usher/box office/photographer) son. And of course, my fabulous husband as conductor and tenor soloist.

Add to this a loyal group of church neighbors, parishioners and friends who refuse to allow us to abandon this 16-year-old tradition, and you have something that feels distinctively unlike my professional life in music. Which, while it has its unique attractions, can still benefit from the periodic experience that exemplies all the best that amateur music-making has to offer.

Merry Christmas!

5 Comments

Anonymous

Thank you so much Wolf Trap for choosing to add an opera studio for singers in this demographic! The number of studios available for singers in their early twenties is extremely limited, posing a difficulty for those us who are not quite advanced enough yet to apply for a traditional YAP program but are ready to move on to a more formal and intense training program. While I am unfortunately unable to audition for the new studio this year due to a prior summer engagement, I am thrilled to know that new programs of this nature are being started by such reputable companies and I look forward to auditioning for you next year.

Anonymous

Would the lovely young lady pictured above be one young(er) Miss Witman?

Kim

Yes. Busted. I needed a photo of an undergraduate, and chose the easy way out. Actually, she was singing Clara in scenes from Light in the Piazza. She sings for fun as she pursues her studies in foreign policy and French.

Anonymous

Thank you for this program! As the first poster said, there is so little for singers in their early twenties, and it is wonderful that Wolf Trap has acknowledged this need!

That said, I’ve always been curious about why companies require letters of recommendation before an audition is granted. I understand that they provide valuable input if a singer is under serious consideration, but many times I have asked my poor, sainted recommenders to jump through hoops of letters and forms, only to be denied an audition in the end. When I apply for day jobs in the business world, I am asked to provide a list of “professional references” along with contact info. That way, if the company is interested in me, they can contact some of the people on my list for a written or oral recommendation. Is there a reason why the opera world doesn’t operate the same way? I would love to be a part of your program, but I have found out about it fairly recently, and I feel very conflicted about asking people for letters of recommendation at the last minute like this (though I suspect that I’ll end up doing it anyway). Is there a reason that companies do things this way?

Thank you again for the terrific blog and this exciting new opportunity!

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