Some food for thought this weekend before we get into the nitty-gritty.
A few seasons ago on the blog I tried to quantify what we listen for in auditions. I ended up with a list modeled on one in Joanna Merlin’s book “Auditioning.” (It’s intended for actors, but its wisdom easily extends to the singing actor. Find it here online or at a book store.)
We want performers who can create a potent and palpable space for themselves onstage. Stay with the character! Communicate. If you lapse, even for a moment, we hear and see it. And if you can't stay in the moment for the duration of a 5-minute aria, that doesn't bode well for your ability to hold the stage for an evening.
If you’re mimicking someone else’s performance (either vocally or dramatically or both), it won’t ring true. Your decisions should be yours, and they should be personal. Yes, traditions establish themselves for good reasons, and there's no good reason not to learn from the generations of fabulous artists who went before you. So listen to tons of recordings, study the cadenzas and interpretations of the icons of the business; but when you make your interpretive choices, really stand behind them in an organic and personal way.
It’s all about discovery. We care about what happens moment-to-moment, and you have to sing it that way. Don’t telegraph the whole aria/scene/character at once. Life isn’t like that, and art rarely is, either.
Detail. Variety. Monochromaticism is one of my own personal bugaboos. If every phrase sounds the same, and Aria #1 sounds just like Aria #2, you're being far too generic. Sometimes this happens in the well-intentioned but misguided pursuit of safe ground.
Never underestimate how much it takes or to what degree it needs to be focused and honed. Project the voice and the personality to the back of the hall and beyond. It will keep you from becoming self-indulgent.
Yes, there is always humor. And it’s the most important in the most unexpected places.
Performing is not an easy thing to do. All singers know that. Take it one step farther. Take chances. Base them on experience and skill, but don’t play it safe.
Ah, you wondered when we’d get to that. Technique. Simply put (and here I travel back to my pianist days), it’s the ability to put all of the tools at your disposal in the service of creating art. More easily said than done, but it’s always important to work at it until you drop, then value that work by acknowledging that it’s a means, not an end.
Have a wonderful weekend - see you Monday!
I was watching TV the other night and saw an ad for an upcoming fall series. One of the characters was talking about coming to terms with something distasteful. (How's that for specificity? I can't remember the show or the subject material...) Anyway, she said, "You never really enjoy it; you just get better at it." That, my friends, is coming to terms with auditioning.
I'm not sure that I ever met anyone who truly enjoyed it. For if you've slain these demons, it probably means that you really know who you are as an artist and as a person. That you no longer live in fear of what the person at the other end of the room thinks. And if that's the case, you're probably beyond the audition-heavy phase of your career.
Here's an outline of these next 6 weeks on the blog; your mini-course in auditioning for young artist programs this fall. Content depends partly on you, and I'll answer your questions posted below or sent to email@example.com.WEEK 1 -The Mind Game
WEEK 2 - The Aria List
WEEK 3 - The Preparation of Things
WEEK 4 - The Strategy
WEEK 5 - The Main Event
WEEK 6 - The Big Picture
Tomorrow, some basic book and website recommendations, and a little more food for thought. Week 1 starts on September 14. Welcome back!
I'm hoping to dig myself out of a personal and professional backlog for the next week or two, without the adrenaline that has shepherded me through the last weeks. Wish me luck. I plan to be back by the end of August with a clear mind, posting some wrap-up thoughts on the season and the upcoming fall auditions. (Audition applications and web pages should be ready within a week.)In the meantime, enjoy these Boheme performance photos by Carol Pratt.
Stephen Lord, conductorKevin Newbury, directorS. Katy Tucker, video projection designCameron Anderson, scenic designJessica Jahn, costume designMark Stanley, lighting designElsen Associates, hair/makeup design
Diego Torre, RodolfoHana Park, MimiAva Pine, MusettaDaniel Billings, MarcelloMatthew Hanscom, SchaunardCarlos Monzón, CollineNicholas Masters, Benoit/Alcindoro
The view from upstage right
That's why tech started this afternoon, kicked into high lighting/video gear at sunset, and will continue until sunrise. The theatre belongs to about 15 of us, and the overnight hours are spent in quiet productivity, to the gentle voice of the lighting designer on the intercom. The stage managers "walk lights," standing and sitting in various locations on the stage while the designer and crew write cues. It requires stamina, patience, and a good book.
Singers were at the Kennedy Center tonight with the National Symphony Orchestra, and from all reports, there was some serious music-making. Everyone ends up here tomorrow night, and we really see what we've got!
As of this morning, we were sold out in front and rear orchestra, but some held seats were released this afternoon. You should be able to find good seats on the orchestra level, at least for the first part of Thursday.
PursuitSteve worked his magic (and no, that's not a euphemism) last week, and brought a slightly atypical program to The Barns. The Pursuit of Love wasn't structured like most of Steve's recitals - rather, it gave each of its four singers a chance to sing a complete set/cycle of songs (by Villa Lobos, Grieg, Granados, and Gabriel Kanahane), and then featured all of the singers in quartets. In the midst of an intense rehearsal week he also found time to chat with our donors and lead a master class with some of the Studio Artists. And, of course, the journey home (a needlessly epic 12-hour trip from Vienna to New York) yielded the annual brainstorming document with ideas for next year's recitals. Six of them. (Six ideas, not six recitals. Even though I tried:))Joining the BohemiansWe are now exclusively on the Boheme train. A few shots from the last room rehearsal and this link to the promo will have to do for now! More tomorrow. I promise.
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