Nella testa ho un campanello che suonando fa din din…

We are struggling with summer repertoire and calendars that refuse to bend to our will. This is business as usual for anyone who’s insane enough to choose singers simultaneously with repertoire. But it’s worsened by the severe limitations of our two venues – one that’s so small and specific that you have to be very careful not to overextend it, and one that so huge and busy that it’s hard to carve out just the right niche.

We’re used to this masochistic December exercise, but this year is one of the more challenging I can remember. The whole puzzle is never complete until well after the new year, but by this point the number of variables should be on the decline. Sadly, the options are increasingly daily, and my head just might explode.

Anyway, this too shall pass. I’m just trolling for sympathy (and impunity for the dearth of blog postings….)

Short Attention Span

In the meantime, here’s some interesting surfing:

If you’re looking for a sartorial summary of this fall’s audition tour, visit Rahree’s Audition Recap: Fashion Edition.

Chicago Opera Theatre’s Brian Dickie has a host of on-the-money comments in his recent “mock” audition blog post.

From Seth Godin, a short post that I read at least five times: The Noise. As attracted as I am to all things Web 2.0, I often feel as if I’m drowning. “The thing is, not all data is equal, and measuring the truth based on volume is almost certain to get you in trouble.”

And finally, if you haven’t yet stumbled on the YouTube Symphony, you should check it out. I’m curious, skeptical, and jazzed all at the same time. I wish I didn’t have a day job (well, not really… that’s not something you can joke about these days… but you know what I mean), and I would kick off a YouTube Opera. I can already imagine it. That is, minus the couple thousand hours it would take to implement it…

Since You’ve Asked

I’m also derelict on responses to blog comments/questions. Let’s try to remedy that.

Just curious: if you have a doubts about “real” fach of mezzo, do you ever mentioned in your feedback your doubts? What is the proportions of “true” or “doubtful” mezzo? Voce di donna, seems, impossible to sing being not a true mezzo (as it should be a contralto). If you have to choose, would you prefer for your studio the “true” one but less polished or zwischen with a better technique?

I will only mention our doubts about Fach if asked. We can have our opinions, but we’d be fools to believe that we have the definitive answers based on a 10-minute audition once a year. And the whole thing is a sliding scale. There are plenty of successful mezzos out there who are considered by some to be sopranos-in-disguise. It’s a combination of the relative size and projection of the voice in its various registers, where the natural breaks lie, the subjective “color” of the sound, and the way in which it handles the extremes of the mezzo tessitura. As for choices for the Studio, we try not to get too bound up in this with undergraduates. But because our Studio does sing some chorus roles in our operas, we need women who will sing the mezzo line. All we care is that these ladies are self-described mezzos who are singing comfortably and effectively in that register at this moment. What they will become, and whether or not they are emergent lyric or dramatic sopranos doesn’t matter.



Does this mean you’ll delay notifying the Studio artists?

Or, if I haven’t heard yet, should I assume I’m out of the running?


Nope – don’t assume anything. No one has heard anything yet.

By next week we will let everyone who auditioned for the Studio know whether they are 1) on the short list for 2009; or 2) no longer under consideration for 2009. But it will take us from next week until early-mid January to do the final casting from among the singers on the short list. Make sense?


please hold studio auditions in Chicago…of course if time and budget permits! It would sure make singers happy!!!

Happy Holidays! Thanks for this wonderful blog!


I’m curious as to how many studio singers are on the short list..and how many from them will ultimately be accepted.
Thank you


Well, they have 2x as many finalists as there are Studio spots. There are 12-16 Studio spots.. so that’s around 32 finalists. Last year they had 7 women and 9 men, but I assume that depends on the repertoire.


You’ve won my sympathy vote! :-)

Hope all is well with you and everyone else down at the farm.


Have you begun making official Studio offers, or will they not be out until January? Thanks and happy holidays


I was wondering if you will be offering comments to those who did not make it into the Studio Program. I know that you did last year, but not until after the New Year. Thanks!


Answers to a few previous comments/questions:

1) We are considering holding Studio auditions in Chicago next year. Would love to. All depends on the budget.

2) By now, if you auditioned for the Studio, you should’ve received an email identifying you as a finalist or letting you know that we aren’t able to consider you for 2009. Offers are being made on a staggered basis over the next few weeks. If you’re a finalist and you have a competing offer with an earlier deadline, just let us know.

3) We’ll offer feedback to anyone who auditioned. Send us a request in January.


Are there any factors beyond an applicant’s actual singing that you take into consideration when you make an offer/don’t make an offer? For example, would you give someone extra “points” for singing at 10am vs 3pm? Does a more impressive resume matter in the final stages of a decision (beyond prescreening, I mean)? Do you consider whether or not someone can audition again the next year vs someone who will be past the first year of a master’s degree? Do you value age in either direction (a 24 year old first year masters vs a 22 year old first year masters)?

I guess that was a long question. I’m just wondering what goes into the decision to accept or reject beyond the singing. (And I was asking with the studio in mind but I suppose it could be broader) Thanks!


I wish I could post a coherent response to the question about factors we take into consideration. But the truth is that each individual is such a combination of factors that it’s hard to make any sort of useful global statement. In short, most of the things you mention are valid. Position in the trajectory of academic training, age as it intersects with Fach and with amount of previous training, and the quality and quantity of experience on the resume. As for singing in the morning, well, I guess we’re sympathetic to that particular challenge, but any disadvantage it has for the singer is probably balanced by the fact that our ears are much fresher in the a.m. :)


Someone previously asked about receiving comments on auditions if you weren’t accepted. I’ve e-mailed a few times but haven’t heard a response. Should I assume that comments will not be offered this year?

Thank you for this blog! It was a great resource for auditions this year.


If you’ve requested audition feedback, you will hear from us, but possibly not until the end of February or beginning of March. We have a record of these requests and will answer them all. We are in an atypical midwinter cycle, for we’re workshopping John Musto’s new opera in February, and preparations for that project have eclipsed some of our normal January/February activities (audition feedback being one).

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