Some of the recent interest in how companies like us select our singers comes from the “American Idol” phenomenon. No surprise that we’re different in a lot of ways…
Getting in the door – In order to be heard on “Idol”, you just have to get in line early and sleep outside the hotel for a couple of nights. In order to be heard in an opera audition, you just have to take voice lessons for about 10 years, get a graduate degree or artist diploma, and become reasonably accomplished in a minimum of three foreign languages.
“Thank you very much” means that your audition is over – The “Idol” panel is notorious for cutting folks off after 30 seconds. In fact, in the musical theatre audition world, 16 bars is considered a generous amount of singing. We’ll very rarely cut you off. As a matter of fact, we have a particularly tolerant policy; almost always two full arias (that is, if the combined singing time is under 8-9 minutes). Even when we’re fairly sure that the auditioner isn’t ready for our program, we feel strongly that one of the things we can do for developing singers is offer them repeated experience with the process of auditioning.
The prize – If you win on “Idol”, you get a recording contract. If you win in our world, you get a chance to spend the next summer at “opera camp”.
The panel – My colleague Thomas is jollier than Randy, I’m not as good-looking as Paul, and neither of us is as nasty as Simon.

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