NAILING AUDITIONS: Tough Love from The Opera Cabbie

By Audition Oracle – Fri 24 Mar 2017 @ 12:22

Exclusive Guest Post from @OperaCabbie on Auditions

Opera Cabbie

Ya shudnt be readin' this. I dunt mean yer not allowed simply that it wuz never meant t' be. Like Enzo Dara in serious roles.

Fact iz the luvvly folk at Audition Oracle messidged me finkin' I wuz sumwun else and arksed me t' do a blog post. We awl 'ad a gud larf abaht that. Imagine. And then I fort abaht auditions. I dun a few. Sum very successful, sum perficky acceptable and some right drongos. Quite a lot of those.
An' I sat on the ovvur side ov the table too. I bin on Audition panels. So I'm givin' ya, giftin' ya az ahr American cousins say, sum tips. Not tips fer sumwun at the top ov thier game but fer an ordinary, jobbing singer. Who probably has to do something else to put food on the table. Maybe sumwun startin' aht. Life is tough at the top but it's tougher at the bottom.
T' 'elp ya aht I stuck me comments through Google Translate. I'm no toff! 

Some of these may come under the heading "Tough Love"  

* Be nice. To everyone.

The person signing you in, the other auditionees, the pianist, the panel, the cleaner, everyone. You are on show as soon as you walk through the door. Or as soon as you've phoned/emailed asking for info. 
Be nice. To Everyone. 

* Be prepared.

Don't say "I've only just learnt this" as (a) they don't care (b) you're making excuses before you've sung so shut up, (c) they don't care (d) it comes across as though you don't care enough to get your head down & just sing it & (e) they don't care. Get on with it. 
Be Prepared!

* You know that clever thing you do when you choose a lesser known aria for an audition? Don't.

Sing something standard, unless asked otherwise. I've done it. They know. It looks like you're hiding. And you probably are. I standardly trotted out a lovely aria from Alzira. I should've sung Eri Tu. 
Stick to known repertoire

* Don't complain about your journey. They don't care.

It's your job to get there in sufficient time. As it would be to get yourself to the rehearsals and shows. And if something major and out of your control happens let the person signing you in know and politely ask if you could have a few minutes to gather yourself. Because you know what, those unexpected things will happen at any time. You need to be able to focus on the job and get on with it. 
Deal with it

* Don't waste time being nervous.

The panel want you to be the answer to their prayers. You are you. You are unique. Don't try and be the next Callas/Baltsa/Domingo/Allen. Be the best you you can be. 
Can you remind me to breathe?

* Have your music in a presentable form.

Cuts, pauses, tempi etc clearly marked. In folders if not using the score. Can you turn the pages easily? Could a pianist without any preparation? Put yourself in the pianists shoes. Or gloves.  
Sheet Music 

* It is ok to give a tempo to a pianist.

If your score is sufficiently marked up then everything else should go relatively smoothly. Do not roll your eyes or pull faces if the pianist goes wonky. Life goes wonky. If you just get on with it the panel will notice. If you grimace the panel will notice. One is positive notice. The other isn't. 
 Be Gracious

* Don't complain - either there or publicly - about travelling 250 miles and then only singing for 4 minutes.

You accepted the audition. You probably knew where it was. An audition is generally an aria or part of an aria. Be thankful you're not a dancer. They often get rejected on looks before they've even shown their dance.
Not Complaining

* Warm up before you get there.

You might (might) get a warm up room when you're there but you equally might not. Ask beforehand. I can tell you that, back in the day, I've warmed up in the toilets at ENO before auditioning in a bar; ROH gave a warm up room; Opera North didn't. And smaller companies almost always have no warm up facilities at all. Do not complain about this. The panel will know there's no warm up room.
Warm up before you get there

* If you do warm up at the venue, do so considerately.

If you're yowelling sirens loudly throughout someone else's audition, this will not present you in a good light. 
Keep it down in there!

* Be aware of your social media profile.

They may very well look at what you post. And, frankly, some people come across as very high maintenance. Don't slag people off and be modest. If you present yourself as the best thing since sliced Bread then you'd better blooming be amazing. And if you come across as a mess of lack of confidence and inspirational posters that won't do you any favours. If inspirational posters, unicorns, cats and Maria Callas quotes are part of your process and help you, that's great. But consider a personal and a professional account.
Does the world need to know!?

* Dress appropriately.

And ladies that sadly means if you audition for Cherubino/Octavian/Romeo/Joe Cocker, you shouldn't wear a skirt/dress. Don't expect a panel to have imagination. Ripped jeans are a no-no. Smart casual. Maybe a suit for a bigger audition. Be comfortable. Be professional. 
Dress Code 

* You might not get it.

They may be matching people up and you don't fit with who they've already cast. Your voice may not be what they're looking for. This does not mean you're not good enough. The directors boyfriend/girlfriend/potential flirtation may get it. That's out of your control. It doesn't mean you're not good enough. Did you choose an aria that is within your capabilities and shows what you can do? You did? Great. I am genuinely pleased. They might remember you for something in the future. 

* You might get it.

And when you do, when it feels like you've reached the top of that hill and are twirling around like Julie Andrews on acid, be a good colleague. Getting a job is easy (hahahahahahahaha).
Excited Being asked back is hard.

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