As 2016 winds to a close, it’s a wonderful time of opportunity for young opera singers around the world. It is not, as some call it, the “festival of shattered dreams.” I consider audition season an annual chance to demonstrate one’s progress in the past year and ambitions for the year to come. Rather than prey upon your fears or insecurities at a time when you need bolstering and actionable advice, I wanted to share my top tips for audition success.
1. Walk into the audition like you’re going to sign a contract.
Literally think, “Where is the contract? I’m just going to sing this song and then sign the contract to sing a role on the main stage.”
You are not there to prove yourself to anyone. You are already good enough. You need to truly believe this because it gives you the confidence that the auditioner wants to see in a performer.
To be honest, every person that listens to you audition hopes you are the best person they’ve heard in their lives. They want to find the next big person in singing. You’re on the same page with them because you want that for yourself, too. Go out there are be it!
2. The easiest way to make a good impression is dressing your best.
Invest in yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “would I want to work with this person?” This is important because your audition attire reflects how seriously you take the panel’s time.
You may think that you are the only one who puts forth effort in an audition; I know I did. Not many singers think about how their auditioner has an entire two week schedule to listen to over 1200 singers in multiple cities around the USA. The people there to hear you are working hard to be there so at least meet them halfway, and dress in a way that shows them you respect their time.
3. Have the right energy – there is a fine line of being cool but charismatic, calm but confident.
Personally, I’m Chatty Cathy when it comes to auditions, and when you realize that you are doing that, put a period at the end of the next thing you are going to say so you can get out of the cycle of speaking. “Thank you for having me” suffices because it’s safe to speak less. If you are someone who has trouble finding the words, a nice smile never hurts. It’s not a bad thing to have some caffeine beforehand too!
4. Perform the right rep at the right time – Your arias should be the absolute best representation of your voice at the present time.
These 4-6 arias should showcase your most innovative thoughts, techniques, and knowledge of style. Most importantly, the first aria can either set you up for success or failure. My advice: start slow and expect fast. If you start an audition with an aria that involves repetitive high notes, coloratura, and patter up the wazoo, you won’t be left with much voice after that for your second aria.
Be strategic in planning so that you showcase your best talents but also have enough energy and power to deliver through the entire audition.
5. People are not going to hire you based on how nice you are.
If you talk them up or if you kiss their ass, that’s not going to get you a job. They care about your voice above anything else. Put your singing ability first.
All of these blogs that give you advice on what font your resume should use, what angle best shows your face in your headshot, or what color your pocket square should be… nothing compares to the quality of your sound. Other aspects are important, but nothing can replace that.
In the spirit of the season, take every opportunity that comes your way to sing for people–every casting agent, every audition, every solo in church choir, sing! Even if that person doesn’t hire you, they may have friends or connections who may need you. Or their season may not have a suitable role for you but their next one does.
There you have it – the best advice I have to give, and the best advice I’ve ever received about auditions. I hope this helps you land your next role; if it does, be sure to let me know in the comments!