Days 5-7: The Midwest

Cincinnati and Chicago have passed in a bit of a blur. Completely satisfying from a purely artistic point of view, but otherwise kind of irritating.

First, the satisfying part.

We’re hearing a range of singers, some of whom are really intriguing candidates for this year’s rosters – both Filene Young Artist and Studio. And there are others we’re meeting for the first time and hoping to hear again in a year or two. We’re about halfway through the process, and if the east coast portion of the tour is as rewarding, we’ll have trouble zeroing in on just a few people.

Now, the current challenge: The annual search for a decent audition space.

Our south and west options were pretty standard. All 3 were rehearsal rooms in opera houses. We’re all familiar with how that feels, looks, and sounds. But our midwest choices were far more problematic. Wednesday’s space was a little live, but within normal parameters. The challenge there was that the lighting was so dark that it was very hard to get a clear sense of people. Kind of like watching opera through a scrim. We manage, but it takes a lot more effort than it should.

Thursday and Friday have been more difficult, though. Recently, we’ve been auditioning at Roosevelt University; but that space isn’t available on weekdays. And since the crazy airline puzzle couldn’t land us here on a weekend, we ended up revisiting a space we haven’t used in years. It’s right on Michigan Avenue, with plenty of natural light, and wonderfully attentive rental staff who furnish us with tables, extension cords, all the creature comforts. The downside? About a 3-second reverb time and a tendency to unmercifully amplify all the upper partials of the sound.

Singers initially love the fact that everyone sounds huge in here. But quickly, some grapple with the fact that once the sound gets rolling around, it’s very difficult to zero in on pitch. Simply, hard to hear.

For us, it is the aural equivalent of squinting for 2 days. Zeroing in on the core of the sound and ignoring the noise around it. We are mentally exhausted.

Random Thoughts

  • Forgot to mention the delightful Ethiopian cabbie we had in LA. So entertaining. Adored the Kennedys, George W, George HW, Obama, and Sarah Palin. And tried (unsuccessfully) to get me to sing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
  • I love these old Chicago buildings. This one comes complete with elevator operators – something I grew up with in the old department buildings in the 60’s but have rarely seen since.
  • Rahree’s Good Luck Umbrella worked so well until today. No rain at all for the first week and a half! And all because she packed a big honking monster umbrella and hauled it around the country. But alas, its charm has expired.
  • Resumes are looking pretty good this year. But please please use columns! In addition to reading the information horizontally, it’s extraordinarily useful to scan vertically for companies, roles, etc. Having the role/opera/company/date in an unbroken line of text is not a good idea.
  • A thought for tenors on “Here I Stand” from The Rake’s Progress: Stay with the postlude! I was reminded again recently (in a good way) that if you don’t drop energy and focus after releasing that final F, the spoken line at the end is so much easier to deliver.
  • Sopranos who aspire to offer Zerbinetta: Do as one of our recent singers did – articulate the 4 sections as options on the rep list: 1. Grossmaechtige Prinzessin / 2. Noch glaub’ich / 3. So war es mit Pagliazzo / 4. Als ein Gott.

More this weekend from Vienna.

One Comment


The question is… Will you sing for the lucky chosen studio artists even though you didnt sing for the cab driver?

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