It’s my favourite time of the MYOpera season – audition week! Sitting behind the table is an incredible, inspiring, and humbling experience for me every year. To see the talent this city has on offer is a real privilege, and the hardest part of my job is saying “no” to dozens of exceptional artists that I would love to cast.
It wasn’t always this way at auditions though! For many years, I stood on the other side of the table, overcome with nerves, trying to put my best face forward for the panel on the other side of the table.
Some singers excel at auditions, while others (like myself) do not. Whichever camp you’re in, I‘m going to share some tips from my time on both sides of the table that may help you through your MYOpera audition, and hopefully others.
Your package is set. You’ve chosen arias that showcase your skills and talent, and you’ve memorized translations and score markings. You’ve buffed up your technique with your teacher, refined your diction and phrasing with your coach, and have built intention into every phrase of your aria. Good for you! This kind of preparation is not only essential, but it is expected. We will notice the finesse in your preparation and it will set you apart.
That’s not it, though! Most of our singers audition with music director Natasha Fransblow. If you haven’t worked with her before (or even if you have), your audition book is an important part of the audition. Are your breaths and cadenze marked in? Have you duplicated your A’ section and slotted it in after your B section? Are your arias clearly marked and separated from one another? Trust me, Natasha will notice. What’s more, we may even ask about the organization of your audition book once the audition is complete. This helps us to paint a picture of the artist as a whole – your preparedness, your conscientiousness, and more. Take the time to prepare well and show us your best game.
Finally, allot some of your prep time to understand the company, the audition requirements, and more. Scan the company’s website and understand their mission and values. Make sure you know the location and time of your audition. Confirm whether or not you need to bring a package. Following these simple instructions may seem trivial, but it’s so important!
Dress the part
When it comes to audition attire, it can feel like there’s advice coming in from all sides. Here are a few of my tips to dress for success on the big day:
- Pants are acceptable whether you’re a mezzo or not. Just wear them with purpose and a nice, dressy shirt
- Skirts and dresses should max out at cocktail attire (I think this is even too dressy). One time I saw a woman auditioning at 10am in a massive, burgundy taffeta gown. Please don’t be her!
- Skirts and dresses should be an appropriate length. If it feels too short to wear to your family dinner, it’s too short for your audition
- No toes, please! It’s a personal preference, but I encourage you to wear a comfortable pair of flats or pumps for your audition
- No loud jewellery! We want to hear you, not your wrists
- Pull back your hair. We want to be able to see your expressivity as you sing
In the end, choose an outfit you love and don’t be scared of wearing it for every audition. If it makes you feel great and it looks professional, don’t mess with it.
- No jeans, please! Even if they’re designer jeans, they’re not dressy enough for an audition
- You don’t need to be in a full suit, but I encourage you to wear smart pants, a button-up shirt, and a jacket.
- If a jacket is too warm, wear a spiffy shirt with some nice slacks. You’ll look great!
- Shine up! Show us that you care about the company, and that you’ve taken the time to polish your shoes
- On the same note, put some effort into your grooming. A good shave or trim of the beard will make you feel great and look great!
- Review the women’s tips on hair and jewellery – these apply to you, too
This one is short and sweet. Be kind to everyone you meet in and out of your audition. Be kind to other auditioners for good karma, and be kind to the person checking you in. You never know who has the panel’s ears,
Your opening aria is the first impression you’ll make on the panel. You’ve probably talked at length with your teacher and/or coach about how to start. I encourage you to listen to the sage advice of your team, and choose your first aria carefully. While you may be auditioning for MYOpera’s The Rape of Lucretia, don’t start off with your English selection just to please the panel. Give us your best shot right off the mark – you never know if we’ll choose your favourite, so don’t miss that opportunity to show us what you’re really made of!
Authenticity is key
When I was auditioning, I often felt like I had to mould myself into what the panel wanted from me. I’d try to seem more bubbly than I was, or more dramatic, or more sombre, or humble…you name it! Take it from someone on the other side of the table – just be YOU. A character isn’t set in stone, and your unique personality might just surprise us as the perfect fit for the role. Don’t diminish yourself just to become palatable to more people. That’s not what art is about, and that’s not what MYOpera is about.
It’s not you
Back in 2012, Backstage published a list of reasons why you didn’t get the part. I remember reading this list and feeling like part of my terror around auditions and rejections was relieved. In truth, we’ll hear over 50 exceptional artists this weekend and, if we could, we would find space for everyone in our production. But it just doesn’t work that way. We might choose someone else because his voice blends better with the mezzo, or because she’s the right height for the tenor. You can’t control that! We might choose between two exceptional candidates because we’re more familiar with one of their referees, and we know we can trust their word. You can’t control that! Know that if you’ve worked hard and shown us your authentic, talented self, you’ve done enough. We are proud of you, and we are cheering for your success from the other side of that table.
I know that I speak on behalf of music director Natasha Fransblow and stage director Anna Theodosakis when I say that we can’t wait to meet you and hear you this weekend. When you get out there, take a deep breath, and know that we’ve been in your shoes.
Kate Applin, Founder & Artistic Director← Return to Blog