Today’s Trilogy

1) Some advice on staying sane
2) A resolution to Just Say No
and (drumroll please…)
3) The final unedited audition comments installment!

Take Your Family to Work

If you haven’t seen Michelle Kunz’s terrific article in last month’s Classical Singer magazine, you owe it to yourself to take a look. If you’re single and/or childless, don’t be put off by the “family” reference – the scope is much broader than that.

Despite the best intentions of those of us in this business who understand how difficult and how important it is to have a personal life, the fact remains that opera (and professional music in general) is not a family-friendly sport. You can rail all you want about the injustice of that statement (and I have, believe me), but it will not change. We’re not alone, mind you – professional sports, high-octane medicine and law, law enforcement – there are lots of professions that are downright hostile and/or harmful to the personal lives of their participants. Accept it and move on. If you’re in it for the long haul, read and heed Michelle’s valuable recommendations.

Met Auditions – The Day That Wouldn’t Die

Enjoyed myself at the Tancredi talk I gave last night. Many of the questions I was asked afterward weren’t about Rossini, though, but about the Regional Met auditions I helped judged in February. Happy as always to elaborate about these things, but growing more and more convinced that this is the last time I will agree to judge a competition in the same area where I live.

Audition Comments Coda

I watched about an hour of American Idol this week, and I’m struck by the lack of imagination in the panel. For the record, I tend to agree with Randy on almost everything. Paula comes across as dumb as a box of rocks (sorry if that’s crude; please, no hate mail), and although Simon can generally cut through the crap and get to the truth, he needs a wider vocabulary. “Appalling” is a strong word, but if every third performance appalls him, well, something’s wrong.

The last installment of our own audition comment drivel:

  • He’s not ready to inhabit something this difficult, but the interesting thing is that it never defeats him, even though he doesn’t own it.
  • The voice is just fine for a choral or specific concert application, but this guy is not an operatic animal
  • There’s something unfinished about the technique in the midvoice, but it’s a pretty unspoiled, uncomplicated sound
  • Windmill arms.
  • Delivering this scene nicely; not playing a single approach, allowing some trajectory
  • When she pushes it to forte it sort of gathers itself, but it’s still a messy footprint; the middle is shot full of holes
  • Not sure if the wide vibrato is due to nerves or if it’s systemic.
  • So many people can’t sing well in their own language.
  • I think she’d probably respond well to direction; there’s a good amount of energy and clarity, just that she’s not making lots of clear dramatic choices on her own
  • Character takes a vacation during coloratura
  • Seems comfortable singing the recit, but the Italian is heavily accented.
  • The big pashmina scarf is beautiful, but it’s seriously getting in her way. Becoming an aria about whether the scarf will stay put.
  • Operating on sheer chutzpah; needs a lot more technical grounding; right now the raw energy and enthusiasm overwhelms everything else.
  • A significant voice; she goes for broke pretty often; there’s little that scares me, for even her miscalculations aren’t fatal.
  • He is terribly nervous and/or unhappy with his performance. Is he sick?
  • Oddly enough, the voice resists speaking; a slight reverse sound envelope; is it a mannerism or a technical limitation?
  • Needs to learn how to stand there and deliver; there’s a little too much generic motion; moves forward, then back, hands out front, then gripping the piano; it’s sort of on autopilot; probably keeps him from freezing up.
  • She is animated on stage. Needs to develop. Soprano or not, doesn’t matter right now. Time will tell. Needs to improve technique and needs to polish the whole package.
  • There’s a viable instrument here, but it’s technically a few years away from being castable
  • Mozart is fine if a little more antiseptic than I anticipated, but clarity is a good thing
  • Let’s check in again next year


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