Report from the Road
You know you’re getting tired when forgetfulness sets in. Left my purse in Starbucks this morning. Checked out of the hotel; was carrying a suitcase, a bag of computer and audio gear, a bunch of books and CDs; had a meeting scheduled before auditions, and afterwards walked down Columbus Avenue schlepping everything but my purse.
There’s hope for mankind, though. Ten minutes later, the purse was still there.
Auditions went well, though, and the day turned out just fine. “Keine Panik,” as my colleague Thomas likes to remind me.
Regional Accents. If English isn’t your first language, it’s usually not wise to choose an aria that requires a regional accent. The clearest example is Susannah (in Carlisle Floyd’s opera of the same name). While it’s possible to sing this aria in the King’s English, it’s best performed with an authentic touch (just a touch!) of an Appalachian accent. Not an easy thing to do well, particularly if English isn’t your mother tongue. But overly conscientious and tortured diphthongs and triphthongs are tremendously distracting.
Soprano Traps. 1) “Caro nome” and 2) “Depuis le jour.” I’m not trying to keep these two arias out of the audition room. But just a few words of caution: They are extremely difficult to pull off. Sopranos often feel good about conquering their vocal hurdles but don’t realize that they’re underestimating the musical challenges. (These aren’t the only two that fall into this category, but they’re the ones that appear on rep lists with alarming frequency.) Phrasing, form, idiomatic touches – a significant level of artistry is needed to sing them well. Not that we expect 25-year-olds to be able to impart the musical wisdom of the ages. And I don’t mean for these beautiful songs to fall off everyone’s lists. If you sing one of them, take extra care. Spend extra time unearthing its secrets.
Testing the Acoustics. We chatted last night with tenor Javier Abreu (our Ramiro last summer) about auditioning in venues with wide-ranging acoustical properties. He likes to start a few measures of recitative preceding an aria whenever possible. Uses the recit to gauge the acoustics so that he isn’t surprised during the aria. The biggest mistake that inexperienced singers make is to react to dry acoustics by pushing for volume because they don’t hear much sound coming back at them.
A Cappella Rules!
I’ve become a college a cappella junkie. My daughter’s a cappella group concert is this week, but, as is too frequently the case during the auditions tour, I’m missing out on some family stuff. I hate missing their concerts. Go Virginia Sil’hoettes! Check them out at www.silhooettes.com. (My daughter is the gorgeous redhead:))
Taking the weekend off from blogging. Playing the organ for my nephew’s wedding! See you Monday.