Auditions: The Paperwork Post


And here it is, the fascinating, scintillating and titillating audition season post you’ve been waiting for…


It’s important. Don’t resist or resent it. Look at it this way. If you were pounding the pavement looking for a “real” job* right now, you’d be writing dozens and dozens of customized cover letters and tweaking multiple versions of your résumé. So cranking your way through a modest number of YAP applications and keeping your résumé clean and up to date isn’t too much of a hardship.


  • Color: Dark/black only. If your résumé gets printed or photocopied, the sexy light lavender text disappears.
  • Font: I don’t really care about sans serif etc, but don’t get too creative. Save the faux cursive fonts for personal correspondence.
  • Columns: It’s critical that we can scan vertically for companies, roles, etc. Putting the role/opera/company/date in an unbroken line of text is most emphatically not a good idea.
  • Abbreviations: When you list the venue/organization for a role you’ve performed, please don’t write “Opera Theatre.” It may be apparent to you which Opera Theatre you mean, but it’s terribly confusing for us until we match it up with the name of your conservatory, etc. Find a better way to abbreviate so that it fits in the column
  • Chronology: Most recent things first within categories. Put performances, degrees, etc in reverse chronological order
  • Photo: Since it’s so easy to include a thumbnail photo at the top, we miss it when it’s not there. But if you do, please format it carefully. It’s unsettling to see one whose aspect ratio has been wrecked
  • Length: One page. Please. Resist the urge to tell us everything you’ve ever done. Put the rest on your web page.


  • Roles/Operas/Arias: We want you to sing well, first and foremost. We realize that you’re not applying to be a writer, editor, or any other sort of wordsmith. But if you don’t know how to spell the name of the role you performed or the opera it occurred in, it’s not unreasonable for us to wonder about the level of care with which you prepared the important details of that role. So please please please ask a handful of people – professors, teachers, coaches, highly literate friends – to proofread your paperwork. Spelling may not be your thing, but you don’t want your first impression to be diluted by messiness.
  • People: Look up the names of coaches, directors, conductors, institutions. My name ends up misspelled on résumés with alarming frequency. If your contact with me wasn’t long or detailed enough for you to figure out how to spell my name, it begs the question as to how much impact I could’ve had on your development.
  • References: When you list mentors and colleagues who might be able to attest to your work, please be sure that those folks will remember you. If you worked only once with someone in a master class, chances are s/he might not be able to speak eloquently on your behalf.

On the Other Hand (Caveat…)

Some singers are so busy being their own publicists that they forget that their main task is to learn to sing. When you’re just too tired or frustrated to deal with one more practice session, I know it’s far easier to tweak the fonts on your résumé, write glowing prose for your bio, or photoshop your latest production shots for your Facebook page. But don’t spend an inordinate amount of time polishing your image instead of your singing.

If you’re still reading, I applaud your industriousness. This is pretty dry stuff, and sometimes I think it’s common sense. And then I am the recipient of a few random résumés that are a hot mess…


John Greiner

A little bit of a “mean” comment. This posting is about spelling things correctly on resumes and such, but on your previous post, you talk about looking at headshots at the “Mets” (following the World Series a bit?) and singers who “spend” some time at Wolf Trap. Don’t worry, I’ve posted comments here in response to your posts that have had typos too after I could have sworn they were correct! :-)


Thanks for noticing, John. I will fix those typos! I am typically mortified by such mistakes, but I’ve had to accept them to a minor degree as a cost of doing business here on the blog. I used to spend a fair amount of time proofing and editing, and the reality is that I can either write regularly (to the best of my ability on the fly) or post less often and polish my prose. (I gravitate toward one end or the other of that spectrum depending on which of my evil twins is in control at the time.) If I’m going to push back at all, it will be to note that the resume is a single document that has a wide professional usage and as such, should stand up to repeated scrutiny. I would liken the approach to that document to be more similar to the rigor that we impose on our printed collateral, and I would begrudgingly recognize that there is a certain level of fuzziness in my professional social media and blog material.

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