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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Auditions REDUX

This is a re-posting from last year about my thoughts on AUDITIONS.
As Opera McGill auditions are this Monday and Tuesday, I thought I'd post it again.

What do I look and listen for at an audition? I'll first tell you what I DON'T look/listen for:
1) Being correct: couldn't care less if you miss a note or drop pieces of text.
2) Coordination with your pianist: I'm much more interested in the music YOU are making!
3) Singing in tune (I know that's a surprising statement, but frankly most singers sing out of tune in some way, shape or form -- why does everyone get so freaking obsessive about this?!)
4) Ornaments: what ever I hear I'm going to want to change anyway, so why worry about it?
5) What you're wearing (many of my students will tell you this is not so, but I only comment on it to them later because I know SO many in the business pay attention to this really unimportant factor).

What I DO look/listen for:
1) A human being making music with their voice
2) Singing sentences that have meaning both textually, dramatically, and vocally
3) Did I mention the making music thing?
4) Character choices - both physical and vocal
5) Good shoes (I know, I shouldn't but I notice) This means no super high heels and no sandals.
6) A singer's physicality
7) Size of Voice
8) Repertoire -- is the singer singing rep that is appropriate for their technique/age/fach etc.
9) Range -- as in high and low and at what extremes the singer is comfortable
10) Range -- stylistically speaking how comfortable/adept with Baroque/Classical/19th/20th/Musical Theatre rep and how many arias are being presented.

That's it, not much! I do tend to judge the aural before the first page gets turned and then take in the visual as the audition progresses.

With all of that said, one of the things singers forget is that the panel wants you to be incredible so that we can cast you! It's not a jury or an examination. There are no grades and there are few hard and stead-fast rules, frankly. Move around, don't move around; gesture, don't gesture; wear a suit, don't wear a suit. All of that doesn't matter with me. I want to hear someone trying to make CHOICES and loving their moment commiserating with the great composers.

If any of the McGill students are reading this -- remember to take a good breath before you walk in the room. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone!