OK, we’re back on home turf, and the data geekery is done for a while. I’ve churned out the stats on which arias were offered as first choices in each vocal category during this fall’s audition tour. Start at the Aria Frequency page.
Observations? Here they are, with the usual caveats. (Completely subjective, read at your own risk, certain restrictions apply, void where prohibited, blah blah blah)
Please be sure you can knock Gilda out of the park before starting with her. She tends to shine a glaring spotlight on lack of stylistic sophistication. If you just want to show off your extension bell tones in the cadenza, you might want to consider another approach.
Pamina led the hit parade among the 4-aria packages offered by sopranos, yet she was only offered once (!) during the whole month. Hmmm.
Olympia is a tough starter. She’s great to have on the list, but in the #1 spot, it means that we get to spend 4+ minutes with you without having any idea how you truly communicate. Just my 2 cents.
If appointments are made in 10-minute increments, and you start with something that approaches the 7-minute mark, you limit your chances. Zerbinetta is no longer the prime culprit in this aria; bel canto has taken over.
The Composer is a niche market. Probably smaller than the 10% of singers who choose to start with his aria.
Ladies, despite a few bright spots, you’re lagging behind the sopranos (in particular) for offering an American aria that isn’t from Vanessa. Consider it a challenge.
It’s tough to cast a tenor without a Bb. I know that many of you are works in progress, but if you offer only the List of Tenors Arias That Top Out at A Natural, we understand that the top isn’t there yet. No big deal, but just understand that you’re not keeping it a secret.
It is entirely possible to sing “New York Lights” without your hands in your pockets. I’m just sayin’. :)
Pierrot takes no prisoners.
Basses & Bass-baritones
Don’t fret so much about what you call yourself. Just know what sounds good in your voice, where your money notes are, where your functional range is defined, then sing. The bass/bass-baritone/heldenbaritone spectrum may be shifting for much of your career. Allow us to draw conclusions (subjective, but that’s all we have…) that arise from you presenting your strengths.
General Audition Nitpickery, v.2011
You don’t need to wait for us to tell you to start. As long as you and the pianist are ready, have at it. It’s awkward to wait and wonder if we’re ready, and generally, we’re spending that minute between singing shuffling papers and getting our bearings.
Consider offering a truncated da capo aria alternative (A section only, B then A1, A then B, whatever you prefer). Even if we don’t take you up on it, the gesture is telling.
Dramatic intention does not equal flailing and throwing yourself around the room.
I wish I could take all of you along for just one of these audition odysseys. If you were able to hear 600 singers in a short amount of time, so many things would become clear so very quickly. The spectrum of strengths, foibles, and choices would put all of your little worries into focus. There’s a big picture here, and it can be surprisingly reassuring and helpful. I just have no idea how to truly communicate this overarching perspective.
The Real Work Begins
And now we have less than a week to consider all that we’ve heard and seen, choose operas that accommodate some of the best of it, and create a schedule that dovetails them with recitals, concerts, improv opera and more. I haven’t been very good about posting frequency this fall, for my actual job is a little overwhelming right now. But I promise to stay in touch periodically over these next couple of months while our season information is under development. A tip of the hat to those of you whose music brightened our month on the road, and a happy holiday season to all!
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Re: “I wish I could take all of you along for just one of these audition odysseys. If you were able to hear 600 singers in a short amount of time, so many things would become clear so very quickly. The spectrum of strengths, foibles, and choices would put all of your little worries into focus.”
Next year get releases to record auditions and put them online. Sound only might alleviate privacy concerns,
I think I love you for this. I especially love you for a couple of comments.
Yes, sopranos (and all voice types really), please step AWAY from the long, bel canto scena (especially as a starter; it might prove to be your only). Also, you need a boatload of style and nuance for this repertoire. If you’re not the Queen/King of bel canto style, please wait until you are. And even then, one of my sopranos refuses to start with “O quante vote” (even though she’s sung the role), knowing that so many folks hate it and it’s long and weird out of context.
“It is entirely possible to sing “New York Lights” without your hands in your pockets. I’m just sayin’. :)”
I’m still giggling…because it’s true.
Hope you get some rest for the holidays!
Were there any countertenor’s to add to the database?
”Pierrot takes no prisoners”??? What does this mean?
You’re sick to death of this aria?
You would never cast someone if they sang this aria?
This aria gives a singer no place to hide, so be SURE you can sing it?
I’m thinking of the Korngold “Die tote Stadt” – which I would never offer unless I had rehearsed with the accompanist: a fistful of accidentals in every bar and everyone has their own idea on the rubato and the bars in 3 vs. the bars in 1. But it is a fine piece of music that shows your entire vocal and dynamic range and tremendous breath control and both joy and longing as an acting piece.
Or are you commenting on a different aria?
I am indeed referring to the Korngold, and your description is right on the money. By “taking no prisoners” I just mean that it is uncompromising, and, as you said, it offers no place to hide. It’s just that in my experience, I find that it often showcases liabilities in a developing voice, and it’s offered by folks who aren’t really up to its demands.
And no, I’m not at all sick of it. And there’s no area that would (in and of itself) keep me from hiring anyone if they were really good and really ready :)
Apologies for the delayed reply on the countertenor question. Here are the starter arias for the three countertenors we heard this fall:
Quella che tutta fe
We asked for the following second arias:
Si la voglio
Il padre adorato
I know a bank