Mezzos: Who’s Singing What

If you want to know what the popular YAP audition rep is this fall, this is the place to be.  This weekend, it’s the mezzos’ turn.  The list was compiled at 34,000 feet, thanks to the miracle that is Gogo Inflight Internet.  Here’s the jumping off point for all the lists:   Countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass-baritone/bass summaries to follow shortly.

My completely unscientific conclusions?

I am mystified as to why 30% of you chose to offer the Composer’s aria. It’s a rare 20-something mezzo for whom that aria does any favors. (And we don’t require German, so that’s not a valid reason… Hmmm…..)

Smanie beats out all other Mozart arias by a comfortable margin. Stephano leads the French trouser role parade, and Isabella trumps Rosina in the Rossini race. “Svegliatevi” is the most popular Handel choice.

Finally, heaven help us, more than 1 in 4 mezzos brought “Must the winter come so soon?”  I understand the usefulness of this piece from both the singer’s and the auditor’s perspectives, but the American opera industry and the singer/teacher audition machine have to do a better job of getting some other arias out there in circulation.



You may not require German, but they may think it good to display it. Wolf Trap Opera has performed German works, after all. And there’s something of a dearth of good audition arias for mezzos in the German rep.: Fricka? I’m sort of surprised that no-one offered Adriano’s aria from Rienzi, Gerechter Gott, which would show German, trousers and the ability to navigate some nasty chromaticism. I guess that underscores the standardization of the singer/teacher audition machine.


I spend my days promoting Stella’s Aria from Argento’s “Miss Havisham’s Fire.” Lovely, lyrical, wistful, gorgeous. Mezzos take note!



The Komponist in young singers always befuddles me as well. Many times, it’s simply not the best thing the singer in question can offer because a) the top isn’t always rock solid or more frequently b) the singer in question has an essentially straight lyric voice (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not enough to cut through heavy Strauss orchestration…or the role). I view Komponist as a thicker mezzo than lyric, but not yet dramatic. Sure, lyrics can do it if they are smart and have the heft (and it’s in the right house), but often the singers singing it could do other things at that very moment so much better.

If you don’t force a German requirement, I simply don’t get why many mezzos would offer it (the same goes for Octavian…Joyce DiDonato waited a long time to debut this role. I think it was a smart choice and served her well).

I’m rambling, I think.

Hope that you’re feeling better, by the way. Are you a flu shot person? Perhaps one before your crazy tour of germy planes, trains, and automobiles might help next year as a precaution?



To all mezzos looking for something new. Take a look at Paula’s aria (I believe it is called Alvaro!) from Daniel Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas. Its gorgeous, very lyric, shows a lot and is the right length for an audition aria. It shows lower and has a nice high note at the end. Its in Spanish and its 20th century (vocal writing similar to Puccini, accompaniment is similar to Debussy).

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