By Lee Anne Myslewski, Co-Manager, Wolf Trap Opera Studio
Most of you who read this blog are familiar with our modus operandi for casting our Filene Young Artists: we find the best singers and then choose repertoire that will highlight their particular strengths.
We follow a similar framework with the Studio Artists. Granted, we’re a little more constrained in selecting this group because we need voices to work well together in a choral setting (these singers make up our choruses for the operas), and can only hire as many singers as we have needs for those particular ensembles. Additionally, these folks are not as far along in their vocal development as our Filene Young Artists – the talent a little more raw. This unfinished quality makes their auditions so very exciting: we really never know who is going to walk in the door! But it also poses certain challenges; a lot can change in a young voice in the six months that elapse between the end of the audition tour and the beginning of rehearsals!
So here I am, making my first steps towards choosing repertoire for our Scenes program. I have recordings of the singers from the audition tour. I have emails from them with suggestions from their teachers and coaches. I have personal preferences and gut instincts. And I have scores, as you can see…oh, so many scores. I also have a fantastic colleague in Texas (Studio Co-Manager and Head of Music Staff Grant Loehnig) who is available to brainstorm, tell me what things are really great, and to kindly point out that, in suggesting something particularly big or long or off-the-beaten-track that I might, just might, be mad as a hatter.
But, in keeping with the Alice in Wonderland reference, I am quite firmly down the rabbit hole this fine February day…with lovely voices and a million options to dream about, vet, carry forward or discard. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the season, and also one that serves as a sponge, taking up every second I can give it, and expanding to fit these long, grey winter days. If I don’t answer the phone? I’m likely sitting with my head in a score, dreaming about the perfect finale for a warm summer’s day.