Wednesday, November 24, 2004

'Tis the season

Audition season, that is. I was in New York City last week for a few auditions, and I’ll head back next week for a few more. Not as many as I would like – only seven in all – but, from what I gather, everyone is getting fewer auditions this year. Several factors at play here, I think. One, the ridiculous number of singers competing for a limited number of jobs. More on that in a minute. Another, smaller opera companies who used to fly to NYC once a year to hear the cream of the crop are now staying at home and auditioning locally. This saves them a lot of money: no trip to NYC and no expensive NYC singers! While that is a gross generalization, the premise seems to be sound. There are plenty of good, even great, singers all over the country now.

Which is why it’s so hard to get an audition! For example, one company I sang for heard about 500 singers this fall. For 23 spots in their training program! That’s a lot of hopefuls – and a lot of disappointed singers. But this company can afford to hear everyone, whereas a smaller company that gets 500 applications for auditions can maybe only hear about 150 singers. Those singers not granted an audition are disappointed in a different way; they didn’t even get a shot to show their stuff.

Here are some other interesting statistics, courtesy of Kim Pensinger Witman, Director of Wolf Trap Opera Company. She kept an extremely informative blog during WTOC’s audition process. Again, more on that in a minute. They heard 345 singers in 12 days in 7 cities (for 8-10 spots in the company). Here is the breakdown by voice category: 20 basses, 60 baritones, 49 tenors, 3 countertenors, 65 mezzo-sopranos, and – get this – 148 sopranos! This year I moved from garden-variety-lyric soprano to the more showy coloratura variety (probably one third of the sopranos are coloraturas), so I was in a smaller subgroup. But still. 148 sopranos!! That’s a lot.

Out of the three auditions I did last week, I have already received rejections from two. Not surprising, given the numbers, but disappointing nonetheless. I know I’m singing well, though (my accompanist told me at one point “You’re going to make a lot of money singing [the Queen of the Night.]), so, hopefully, it’s only a matter of time. And numbers…

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