Studio Days 4 & 5 – Cincinnati, Vienna

Studio auditions are officially finished. If you sang for us, you should receive some kind of notification within about a week and a half as to whether we would like to keep you on our finalists list. We were extremely happy to see such a great turnout in this, our second year of this new program, and we wish all of you a happy end to your fall semester!


I forgot to mention in my Philadelphia (Filene Young Artist audition) entry that we set another repertoire record. One “Marie’s Lullaby” from Wozzeck and two (count ’em, 2…) renditions of “Lied der Lulu.” More Berg than I bargained for, but I’m not complaining!

My colleagues and I agree that one of the things we love most about Studio audition days (aside from the monologues, which I adore…) is the opportunity to hear some of the song repertoire. Studio candidates are allowed to offer a song instead of an aria, and in hearing them I realize how much I miss them.

GKC: The Geographic Kindness Clause.

Unlike our Filene Young Artist auditions (which always include two arias unless your first choice is a scene that lasts more than 6-7 minutes), our Studio auditions typically only involve one aria. Occasionally (depending on many things, not necessarily or only how well the audition is going) we ask for a second sung selection or the monologue.

But even if we’ve gathered all the information we need from the first aria, we’ll sometimes ask for something else if the singer has traveled from a distance for the audition. While it’s part of the business to have to show up and sing only 5 minutes, it seems heartless to not allow folks who have spent an entire day traveling from another city to sing another few minutes if we can stay on schedule and still do so.

What does this mean? Please don’t read too much or too little into the request f(or the lack of request!) for an additional aria.

Playing This Game

Over on Have a Vegetable, the Shiksa has a frank talk about the crazy world of auditioning. Even though we endlessly counsel, coach, and cajole singers about how to deal with this necessary evil, I’m constantly reminded about how hard it is. During the high audition season it’s like having a job interview several times a week for months. It’s kind of a miracle that anyone can stay sane. I know I certainly wouldn’t have been able to sustain it in my 20’s or early 30’s. I simply didn’t have the self-confidence and strength.

The sheer logistics of transportation hassles and logistics are defeating. Never mind the looming threat of illness or an unshakeable funk. (We all get them, some worse than others.) And assuming that you can stay in one piece mentally and physically, and get there on time, there’s rarely a place to warm up or any other simple creature comforts. All of this while wondering how you’ll pay the bills and whose apartment you’ll crash in. More power to you. All of you.

There Has To Be An Easier Way (for us, too…)

A few colleagues and friends who don’t know much about our particular company have recently expressed that they’re surprised about our audition tour. They muse that there must be an easier way to cast an opera season than going through 1,000 application forms and over 400 audio CDs, then spending a month on the road.

Sure, there are alternatives. I could just call around to my colleagues who run other young artist programs, conservatories, and small opera companies, and ask them to recommend people. We could only hear singers who have the means to make a trip to come to our theatre. All of this could be done from the comfort of my office.

I also get criticism and frustrated emails from singers who believe that we only hire from a few high-profile young artist programs. (Disclaimer: Yes, there are indeed some singers from those programs during most seasons. If they’re hiring some of the best people in the country, wouldn’t it be odd if some of those folks didn’t end up here?) But if it were true that we were just casting by word of mouth, and the application/audition process was largely a sham, why in the world would we bother? Yes, it’s fascinating and exciting sometimes, but it’s equally frustrating and exhausting. If we weren’t committed to giving everyone a chance, we’d be incredibly stupid to continue to do this.

(OK, sorry for the rant, but I’m tired, choosing the right season repertoire is giving me a headache, and Thanksgiving can’t come soon enough.)

Baritone Fatigue

Too many of them. Far too many. And so many of them are good. Really good.

Off Topic

This post on High and Low Notes followed closely on a conversation I had recently about the musical content of memorial services. The gist of the blog post is that the level of the music included in Pavarotti’s funeral was not consistent with his profile. While I agree with the objective statement, I think that it’s a mistake to draw the conclusion that the two should be equivalent. Memorial services are for the living, not the departed. If the immediate family of a brilliant musician takes comfort from “Eagles’ Wings”, then so be it.

One More

Audition tour post, that is. Probably on Wednesday as I try to find some closure to this phase and courage to move to the next. Then there will be periodic silences as we sort out things that can’t be worked through in public. See you in a couple of days.



thanks for the update.. but did you mean a week and a half from today, or a week and a half from our audition date? (for “finalist” notification)


Sorry for being vague. I meant a week and a half from today – aka around December 1.

If you auditioned for us, and you have a competing deadline for an offer, please just call or email, and we’ll give you an update on your status.


does finalist mean that we’ve been chosen for the studio program? or does that mean there’s still more deliberating to be done after that?

-a different anonymous studio applicant


Next week we’ll notify about 25 finalists. From that group we’ll ultimately choose 14-16 for next summer’s Studio.

The finalist notification will ask those singers to let us know if they are still available for the summer and request that if they receive any competing offers over the next few weeks they should let us know.

The reason we don’t just pick the 14-16 singers right away is that our repertoire is still in flux, and the exact composition of the Studio will depend on the operas we choose.

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