A source of contemplation, inspiration & information for the up & coming international opera community.
Package Problems: First arias
September 17, 2015
I think I could write an entire dissertation on the various woes that I have experienced surrounding auditions etc. So I will! This commences a segment about audition packages,
Let's start where we ought to, at the beginning! Well, not the true beginning, that comes much earlier with preparation, getting to the venue, your outfit, how you approach the panel, what your resume looks like, headshots.... This is a long list. You see my frustration? So many things to consider in a 5-10 minute window. BUT! Singing is why you're there. So let's start with that
. Whether it's one or three or ten etc arias/songs; you will get to sing something. Hopefully. SO let's get one thing sorted: you shouldn't pick your starter on the premises of "I think I sing this kinda well, but it will REALLY impress the panel" Starting arias are tricky. You simultaneously need to please the panel while showcasing your best possible self; dramtically and vocally. This is your first impression- make it count. There are cases for and against so many starting arias, but in my experience, these have been the most helpful guidelines:
Have no more than two options. Some companies want all 5 arias, some only want 2 or 3. How do you get inside the panel's head and draft what they will pick for you after your starter? The short answer is : you can't predict, so don't. Your starter should be like your audition outfit: dependable, travels well and truly fits. You don't travel with 10 different audition outfits (unless you are a fan of baggage fees...) so don't have a whole whack of starter arias.
Think shorter. Have you been to an event where someone makes a speech that is very beautiful and well thought-out, but it's just painfully long? So it goes for long starting arias. Opera is a long form art, but I think 5 minutes is a good rule of thumb for a starter.
Don't show your flaws. Now this seems pretty logical, but I have fallen prey to this in countless auditions. I pick something that seems impressive, or maybe even a safer choice and I end up paying for it. I go for the result rather than showing what I do really well. For many auditions seasons, this was the Embroidery aria from Peter Grimes. I thought the drama of the text would carry me past any musical or vocal troubles. After about 10 auditions of missed entrances and wobbly vibrato, I decided to retire Ms Orford until a later date.
Sing it everywhere. It takes a while to figure out where your arias can trip you up. I would have known much earlier that the Embroidery aria was a bad choice if I sang it constantly. Hold mock auditions with a few friends! Get as much practice as you can, it will become more routine and eventually less nerve-wracking.
I hope this gets you started off on the right foot!
All the best with your auditions
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