Part Three in a series of posts containing audition season advice submitted by Wolf Trap Opera alumni.
Your Aria Package: Argh… What should I sing???
Start with something that shows off something unique you can offer. For me, this was often the aria that I was the most comfortable with anyway, and helped get me grounded and comfortable in the process.
I learned in graduate school -and having just sung an audition yesterday I am still implementing this rule -that you must not feel guilty about singing “the same old arias that they’ve heard before.” You must sing what best represents you. The audition panel is educated enough to hear your voice and hear its capabilities. Arias that you’ve sung a bunch of times and are most likely what you sing best. Every aria needs a first time out in the open and sometimes it has to be at an audition, but those circumstances should be chosen carefully.
Sing the piece you absolutely love and can sing from your soul, rather than what someone told you to sing. Taking ownership for your Art will always make an impression.
I am alway prepared to sing at least 3 of my 5/6 audition arias in a row, including “Der hölle Rache,” at 9 am.
Only offer arias from roles that are appropriate for you to sing immediately.
Don’t Be Stupid
If there is an aria that you “hope they don’t pick,” ask yourself “Why is it even on my list of offerings?”
A Bit of Very Personal and Specific Advice
Make your audition package unique. In other words, I think it’s essential to find way in which you are different, unique… “marketable.” I know my career has been unlike a lot of folks and as crazy as it might sound, it’s taken me a while to embrace that. Part of the reason is that coming out of school and young artist programs, I was trying to do all the lyric mezzo stuff and have every favorite mezzo aria in my bag… but there was really no point in that. I am slowly more and more embracing how I am different and especially the fact that my ‘different-ness’ has been the means of my having a career, making a living, etc. SO I think it’s wise to encourage young people to do the same. I was working with two young (amazing) singers in the Santa Fe program who were to do a scene from Dr. Atomic in the scenes program. I told both of them to definitely offer those arias in audition – it sets them apart and makes people sit up and listen. Not everyone must be Mimi or Cherubino. What’s wrong with entering the music business as Alcina or Lulu or Dinah? It’s about finding what makes you excited and what you have to share that maybe everyone else doesn’t… I think it’s vital. I recall Matthew Epstein talking about offering songs in audition… or maybe even a concert excerpt. I, someone who does a lot of both, still haven’t ever done that in audition but for the first time this season, I’m making a point to make my package unique!
Next: Navigating the Colleague Waters