Audition Tour 2014: Chicago

Three days on Wabash, in a dry orchestra rehearsal space with no coffee. Purgatory for opera administrators? Nah. Some truly lovely singing, a few nice surprises, and a couple hundred arias closer to figuring out summer 2014.

Singing in the Inside of a Sock

The dry acoustic we dealt with this week is worth a word of caution to auditioning singers. In short, don’t allow the amount of (or lack of…) sound coming back at you in a new space to alter the technical foundation you’ve built with your teacher. Don’t push. If you’re relatively new to this whole auditioning thing, be sure to seek out opportunities to sing in different acoustical environments to test your resolve. This is one skill you don’t want to be learning in front of a panel.

Do I wish we could hear all of our auditions in more vocally flattering spaces? Of course, but those kinds of space are limited, particularly in a city whose professional and academic halls are booked around the clock in the fall. And truthfully, we’re probably actually kinder to you in this kind of acoustic, in which we automatically add resonance to what we hear, than in the stairwell/bathroom type of space where we have to constantly subtract in order to drill down to the real sound.

Camera UploadsA Shout-out to the Mighty Monitors!

We learned a few years ago that the best people to monitor auditions are those who know what it’s like on the other side of the equation. Therefore, we almost exclusively hire WTOC alums to work for us in the hallways of our audition spaces. They understand and can surf the nerves and free-floating anxiety of the singers, they aren’t afraid to help keep the audition panel on track and on schedule, and we adore seeing them. This week, Shannon held court over the narrow hallway (left) at Classical Symphony Hall.

Aria Frequency Lists… Get Excited!

We’re on a 5-day hiatus between Chicago and LA; the main event is screening the final 341 applications for Cincinnati and Vienna and then scheduling singers for the available 164 spots. But if that gets done, I promise to churn out the data that shows the frequency with which arias are represented on this year’s singers’ rep lists.

Oh, and as I looked up these figures, I was reminded that I wanted to say a word about this year’s  numbers. Seems that quite a few summer YAPs are seeing a record number of applications for 2014. We ended up at 1,077: a 10% increase from last year, and an all-time record. I don’t want to make too much of this, for I don’t think we can attribute causality, positive or negative. Is it potentially good that more singers are taking advantage of possible summer training and performing opportunities? Sure. Is it potentially troublesome that some of these singers should probably be moving on to professional engagements with companies that are down-sizing or disappearing? Food for thought. Bottom line: Don’t be seduced by the numbers.

What Happens in the Audition Room When You Leave?

It’s not nearly as exciting as you think. Or maybe it is. Our backs may survive this tour. Or they may not.

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I recently auditioned for the Studio Artist Program in Chicago and was a little confused about the callback situation. I’d previously been under the impression that studio artist applicants didn’t got through callbacks, but the handout at the audition seemed to suggest otherwise. We were told to wait around to find out about callbacks (even for studio artists) then were told there weren’t going to be any.

does that mean there actually weren’t callbacks for studio artists, or that the several singers I was with (and myself) simply didn’t get called back? :)

I was confused by this and would love some extra info if you get a chance, just so i know what to expect moving forward. Thanks so much for this awesome blog!


All singers who audition for the Studio Artist program remain under consideration for the 2014 WTOC regardless of whether or not they sing a callback. (This is not the case for the Filene Young Artists auditions, where a callback is the indication that they are finalists for 2014 and the lack of a callback removes them from consideration for the upcoming season.)

If you have specific questions about your status due to a conflicting offer, please write us at

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