News & Views
Audition Oracle – Fri 12 Jan 2024 @ 15:16
As we approach the infamous Blue Monday (Monday 15th January), let's flip the script and add an optimistic spin on what is known to be the most depressing day of the year. Let's turn Blue Monday into a symphony of positivity with these uplifting practices:
1: Warming Up your Voice with Kindness and Imagination
Kick off your day with a vocal warm-up that not only gets your voice going but also encourages imagination, creativity and kindness. Picture each note as a stroke of colour on a canvas. Rather than listening to yourself, imagine your sound as colours and textures.
2: Celebratory Repertoire for your Singing Practice
Today choose pieces that tell tales of triumph, love, and happiness. Pick arias and songs that are uplifting and immerse yourself in the beauty and buoyancy of the music.
Intermezzo: A Moment of Thanks for your Singing Voice
Pause and take a moment to appreciate the privilege of having a beautiful voice, musicality, and having been able to study and being able to share these gifts with the world. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and recognise the power of your art to uplift and inspire. Stay there and recall a few (singing-related) moments you feel grateful for. Relive those moments and remember how they felt at the time.
3: Connection and Collaboration with your Opera Colleagues
Reach out to your fellow musicians, whether virtually or through rehearsals, and offer a simple note of encouragement, reminiscence, or camaraderie.
Finale: A Personal Performance of Brilliance
As the day winds down, indulge in your favourite recording, either of yourself or another singer; and revel in the brilliance of the music-making. Share snippets of these musical moments on your socials to spread the positive vibes.
Coda: Beyond Blue Monday
Let the newfound positivity of Blue Monday linger; approach rehearsals, performances, and interactions with the same optimism, gratitude, kindness and joy. Together let’s transform Blue Monday into a catalyst for positivity!
Be Kind to Yourself. Reach Out for Support
And lastly, remember to be kind to yourself if you don’t manage to transform Blue Monday into a positive experience. Please don't suffer in silence and alone. Below we have included some useful links and phone numbers if you feel you, or anyone you know, needs extra support and advice.
Help Musicians UK
provide financial help in crisis or illnessMusic Support
(or 0800 030 6789) is a helpline for mental ill-health or addictionBAPAM
connects performing artists with free health support Mind
is a general resource
Audition Oracle – Mon 8 Jan 2024 @ 9:01
The decorations are down and you've eaten all the leftovers, now what? It's the first Monday of the first full week of 2024 - the perfect time to get started with your New Year resolutions! Make today count. Take a step, no matter how small, to move yourself towards your career goals.
1. Learn a new role:
Resolution: Learn a new operatic role.
Action Steps: Choose a role to master, create a schedule and commit to learning it in its entirety. Make 2024 the year you are ready to say ‘yes’ and jump in.
2. Language Proficiency:
Resolution: Improve language skills to enhance communication and expression in different operatic languages.
Action Steps: Take language lessons, practice diction exercises, and immerse yourself in the cultural context of the languages used in your repertoire. Download Duolingo – it’s free and always in your pocket.
3. Learn to play the piano
Resolution: Work towards a side career in singing teaching by improving your piano skills.
Action Steps: 20 mins of piano practice a day to gradually grow your piano skills.
4. Don’t like the term network? Build your community:
Resolution: Expand professional connections and presence within the opera community by contributing to it.
Action Steps: Attend industry events in person and online, celebrate friends and colleagues in their artistic projects, and share your enthusiasm and passion for yours. Join professional organisations to stay visible and updated on opera auditions and opportunities.
5. Recording and Self-Assessment:
Resolution: Record yourself at every opportunity, listen back and make friends with your voice.
Action Steps: Review recordings objectively, and seek feedback from trusted mentors or colleagues to refine your skills. Take note of the areas that are working well and expand out from there to bring that same polish and consistency to your whole performance. Be kind to yourself and your voice. Finished is better than perfect.
6. Mindfulness and Mental Well-being:
Prioritise mental well-being and mindfulness to manage performance anxiety.Action Steps: Mental health and singing influence each other so much. Never underestimate the powers that meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness can have on your self-esteem, and alongside that, your singing. Choose one practice to incorporate into your daily life. Do seek support
from a mental health professional if needed.
Audition Oracle – Thu 23 Nov 2023 @ 16:23
You have approximately 10 seconds to make the cut!
Opera companies receive vast numbers of CVs for a very limited amount of audition slots. Make sure your most relevant credits are easily visible. In the UK & many other countries, a one-page CV is often all you need. Spreading your CV over 2, 3 or 4 pages risks employers missing out on your best work.
1. TELL US WHO YOU ARE
Name, voice type, contact details and visas (if required)
2. HYPERLINK TO VIDEO AND AUDIO FILES
Show us where to see and hear your best work.
- Upload to Vimeo, YouTube, Soundcloud or similar
- Videos - the eyes are so important to communication, so make sure they are visible, and open
- Take down old videos/recordings that no longer serve you
- Avoid over-processed demos
- Listen back. Make friends with your voice
3. PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT
Your photo is an important memory aid for the panel.
- Make sure it’s an honest representation of you
- Again, it’s all in the eyes
- Keep it simple – elegant clothing, no props and scenery
- Avoid the overly glamorous, stylised and processed
- Cropped to head and shoulders
4. FUTURE AND RECENT EXPERIENCE
- Display role, work, company, director, conductor, and year.
- Use tables to display your credits in tidy columns
- Include the composer if the work is less well-known or is new
- Does your experience make sense?
- Are noticeable gaps briefly explained?
- Is the experience included relevant?
5. FURTHER RELEVANT EXPERIENCE
Research the company as you may have other relevant experience to include.
6. AWARDS: COMPETITIONS AND SCHOLARSHIPS
7. TRAINING AND EDUCATION
10. THE FINAL EDIT
- Format check
- Information check
- Does it all fit comfortably on one page? Allow yourself two sides only if necessary
- Give the file a helpful name; name, voice type, date
- And finally, save your CV as a PDF file
Portfolio career is a term we hear all the time now. Tailor CVs to your different work strands, only combining them when appropriate to the opportunity. Now you're all prepped with your elegant, clear and concise CV, visit the Audition Oracle auditions page
and search all the latest opera auditions, masterclasses, training opportunities, young and emerging artist programmes and so much more.
Audition Oracle – Thu 9 Nov 2023 @ 14:57
Photo credit: Frances Marshall
We were delighted to attend Nina Brazier’s enlightening talk about Working in Germany at Opera Prelude’s annual conference and professional development day, OperaWorks. Nina is a Staff Director at Oper Frankfurt where she will direct Mozart’s Ascanio in Alba in the 23/24 season, with other venue credits including Kings Place London, 92nd St Y New York, Royal Festival Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, MuTh Vienna, Ryedale Festival Opera, Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival, and so the list goes on. Nina is also the Curator and Host of OperaVision’s Next Generation podcast
1/3 of the world’s opera is produced in Germany
It was the lack of opportunities in the UK that prompted Nina’s (pre-Brexit) move to Germany, and reading in an article in The New York Times article noting that 1/3 of the world’s opera is produced in Germany. The first and perhaps most obvious challenge of such a move is the language, however, before leaving Nina completed two beginner courses at the Goethe Institute in London (A1.1 and A1.2), and advises that German courses are often cheaper here in England, than once you arrive in Germany. She advises that the more you can do beforehand, the better. A good starting point is to learn to introduce yourself and your audition arias in German. B1 is a great starting point for anyone pursuing a backstage job, however, singers can start with a lower level of German and improve on the job.
Differences between working in opera in the United Kingdom and Germany
Nina advises there are many differences between working in England and Germany. Perhaps the largest difference is that opera is more heavily state-funded in Germany and an enormous part of their cultural landscape. Nina recalls finding the German attitude to opera so refreshing and appreciative! But before you have got the work itself, it is all about auditioning. Nina advises to try and organise an audition tour if your budget allows, calling agents and letting them know that you are available either to sing for them, or to have a meeting. In German auditions, the panel will of course be interested in your voice, language and performance, but unexpectedly they will also be interested in the practicalities of you undertaking the position. “How do you intend to make it work?” “Will you be taking an apartment in the city?” and/or “Will you be commuting?” are all questions you can expect to be asked. She also advises to consider looking at smaller houses; it is certainly possible for singers to start off in smaller houses and to work their way up to a B or an A house.
An observership or internship as a route into directing opera
Nina’s first job in Germany was as a ‘Hospitantin’, which is an unpaid observership or internship. These are quite common in Germany as there are many German houses and plenty of work to do. She advises you will be busy even in an unpaid position, and it was undertaking this role that directly led to her job at Oper Frankfurt. When you have secured a role in Germany, there are a few elements of the production which you can expect to be different. Whilst a revival in the UK might be assigned three weeks, in Germany they will take as little as eight days and two weeks at most. Following from this, costumes and props will come later in the process than in the UK, so a singer will need to adapt to a wig or an original prop much quicker as there will be less time to rehearse with it in situ, and technical elements of the set are often ready later than one might expect. Also, when rehearsing, there is a period of at least four hours of silent time (‘Ruhezeit’) between the rehearsals, so you may find yourself living on a very different time frame to if you were doing the same role in England. It is perhaps this unique time frame that makes the opera house become your working life as well as your social life, but (with a positive spin) the opera house and your colleagues will become like a second family.
Speaking of family, another practical and big difference between the UK and Germany is when it comes to childcare, (‘Kinderbetreuung’), which is for the most part state-funded in Germany, therefore much cheaper and more financially feasible than in the UK, particularly in comparison to London.
Young Artists Programmes
Nina imparted some specific advice tailored to those considering Young Artist Programmes in Germany, and notes that large international competitions can be a good way to be heard, as well as the formal application process. Young Artists and Ensemble members are often asked to ‘Einspringen’ which we would refer to as a jump-in, especially if you have sung a role before. Nina advises you to think carefully before accepting the challenge, and to communicate your abilities and any needs concisely and clearly.
Of course, one of the largest talking points was Brexit, however, Nina would argue that Oper Frankfurt is no less willing to employ Brits than it was pre-Brexit, and therefore Brits should not feel discouraged. Brits are now required to do what American citizens have faced this entire time, and there are many US citizens working in Germany, so there is proof it is possible. However, if you do have access to an EU passport, then Nina urges you to get it, as it will make the process much simpler. For those who unfortunately aren’t entitled to an EU passport, learn the 90/180-day rule and make sure to count your days. There are also options for a Visa which allows you to look for work for 6 months once your contract is at an end, or as a new jobseeker with specific vocational qualifications.
is a great place to find out about singing jobs in Germany, simply register your free basic account and click ‘Auditions’ at the top of the page, filter by country and start searching. Looking for off-stage opportunities? Another great resource more on the theatre and musicals side is https://www.theapolis.de/
Audition Oracle – Fri 3 Nov 2023 @ 15:46
“Your biggest audition is the last job that you did” – Audition Oracle at OperaWorks
Working with seasonal, smaller opera companies - Bill Bankes-Jones and Guy Verrall-Withers
On Tuesday 24th October, Audition Oracle attended OperaWorks at Chelsea Theatre in London, a conference and professional development day created by Opera Prelude for emerging young artists. Guy Verrall-Withers, Artistic Director & CEO of Waterperry Opera Festival co-hosted a seminar with Bill Bankes-Jones, Artistic Director of Tête à Tête discussing smaller seasonal opera companies and how they provide early career singers with opportunities to grow and learn, as well as some do’s and don’ts to help emerging artists embark on a successful and fulfilling career.
Waterperry Opera Festival
Waterperry Opera Festival is located in Oxfordshire and, deliberately, is active in August, traditionally the dead time in the opera industry where most performances pause. The panel explained that it is no secret that a career as a singer is difficult and most cannot expect a career where they are working all the time, however, they both advised to consider and plan for a portfolio career, for which seasonal opportunities (especially those which don't clash with other festivals) work perfectly!
However, having a varied portfolio career needs research! “Every company you work with will offer you a different type of opportunity” explains Guy, and each company will be looking for a different specification, for instance, smaller companies might be more attracted to a more diverse CV with more unusual skills, for instance, circus skills, dance abilities, clowning, stage combat. Guy continues to explain that in his audition process, “I am looking for the best person for each project, rather than just the best singer out there!” Do your research and make sure you know what the company is aiming to achieve when you audition, it is not just about having a superb voice, “Just Google the company!” says Guy. And likewise, Guy urges the audience to make sure their online presence reflects who they are, as companies do Google singers too. If you don’t have a website, it is likely that the searcher will resort to social media, so make sure both reflect who you are and be careful about what you say.
Tête à Tête
Tête à Tête is an opera company based in Cornwall but operating in North Tyneside, London and online as well as Cornwall. Committed to new operas and creating work, Tête à Tête has premiered over 100 operas and helped others in the creation of their works (almost 600 of them) in the annual Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival. Not only that but Tête à Tête also hosts the largest archive of new operas in the world, which are available to watch online, free of charge! Bill Bankes-Jones, Artistic Director of Tête à Tête, talks about the importance of knowing your market, not only knowing what you like and what suits you, but then presenting the right image to the right person. Don’t sing a Verdi aria in an audition for a new opera, whilst it might be fantastic and wonderfully sung, it doesn’t show any interest or commitment to new works, or the ability to handle the musical challenges that often come with new works. However, only by experimenting and trying new ways and methods of creating opera will you find out what suits you, and Bill advises in your formative years to simply “try everything you can.”
It takes a lot to be a successful singer
The panel empathise with emerging singers, finding work isn’t easy, and we all know that determination and resilience are key components to be a successful singer, alongside the actual singing. However, the best advice for finding work was getting re-employed and sustaining those connections you have already forged. Bill states, “Your biggest audition is the last job that you did. Did you turn up on time? Were you well prepared?” Being a good colleague, organised, kind etc. has been a constant theme of all of today’s discussion and Guy reiterates the importance of a good reputation, I will speak to those people who run companies that are present on your CV and ask what you were like, and if that answer is negative, it is likely that will be enough information to give the opportunity to another person.
It takes a lot to be a successful singer, and there is a huge amount of empathy for just how demanding it is. It can feel an enormous amount to take in and be constantly focussing on, however, Bill summarised and condensed it beautifully, by stating “pay attention! And be hungry to be a better artist.”