Sunday, August 07, 2005

Well, it worked

I am now a firm believer in the expression “less is more.” Before Friday, I would never have believed that I could make more people interested in me by singing an unflashy lyric aria that doesn’t go above an A than by singing a showy coloratura piece with high C’s and D’s to spare. But it’s true.

I sang at 11:30 Friday morning, a good time – not too early, but not too close to lunchtime (the auditors may start to lose focus as their blood sugar levels drop!). I was pleased to be scheduled behind SA – a baritone whose voice I adore – who sang “Avant de quitter ces lieu,” Valentin’s gorgeous aria from Gounod’s Faust. I was put into a fairly tranquil state of mind as I prepared to go on for my spot. Sitting just off stage, I watched him as I quieted my breathing. When he finished, I half expected to hear applause (as I had expected after hearing several other colleagues, as well). That’s what happens when these showpieces are sung in the opera, but in an audition, they just say “thank you,” and you smile and walk off. I think the lack of applause is made stranger in this case by the fact that these auditions were on the theatre stage and not in a small room somewhere. Anyway…

When I walked onstage, I saw about 100 people scattered throughout the theatre, including a few small tour groups up in the balcony. I was happy to see that most of the auditors were fairly far back in the house, which meant they wouldn’t be able to see my hands shaking! (In performance, my hands rarely, if ever, shake. In context of an opera or concert, my nerves just don’t show up. But in an audition, the adrenaline surge can make me a little jittery. Never so much that it affects my voice, but my hands develop vibrato!) I announced my name and my aria in a nice clear voice, speaking slowly – thanks Trish for all those trial runs in aria class! Then I sang. It’s a wonderful piece about fairies in the forest and all the magic one can find there. Easy to sing something like that here in Santa Fe… I had been planning to take the final phrase in one breath (Boy, oh, boy! Everyone has a strong opinion on how to sing that phrase!), but ended up breathing anyway. No big deal; that’s not the kind of thing that would raise any eyebrows, just a personal thing that I wanted to accomplish.

What happened next still boggles the mind. Instead of the voice saying “thank you,” I heard “Brava.” And then another voice: “Brava.” Then the “thank you” came, I said “thank you,” gave a smile, and walked off stage. How about that?! I told myself that the accolades came, most likely, from the tour groups in the balcony, but I was pleased with the response, nonetheless. Backstage, I thanked my wonderful accompanist and quickly changed out of my dress so I could go sit in the back of the hall and watch my colleagues. (Oh, that’s another thing that happened at the end of my aria. I saw about a dozen pairs of arms raise up in the back row of the theatre and “clap” silently in support and praise. How fabulous! Folks who sang on Thursday or earlier in the day on Friday came back to give support and encouragement. This is a great group of people, and I’m happy to be their peer.) As I snuck into a seat in the back row, a friend said, “Way to go! You got a “brava” from Matthew Epstein!” So apparently it wasn’t the tour groups! Wow. I was more than a little shocked.

That kind of immediate feeback continued throughout the day, as my coaches and teachers from the summer shared with me some of the comments they’d overheard (or been told directly) from members of the panel. Nina was especially pleased, and I thanked her for showing me the power of simply singing beautifully. I spoke with Mr. Epstein for a few minutes at lunch, and he was very encouraging. He had ideas for other rep (some lighter Handel arias, Annchen, Marzelline, and Sophie) that I hadn’t considered, and agreed that “Sul fil” was a better audition choice than “Caro nome!” I also talked with Robert Gilder at lunch, a London based agent who operates a NYC office as well. He has lots of ties to Seattle, in fact, he left immediately after the auditions to go see The Ring. He said he would mention me to Speight Jenkins, and that next time he’s in Seattle, we could get together and talk a bit, maybe work on some rep. Amazing.

But the biggest proof that this audition went well? I have a new gig penciled into my calendar for December 2006…

7 comments:

kimvox said...

Brava m'dear! Can't wait to hear more about it. E-me if you can.

M. C- said...

bra-frickin'-va, indeed. as the cheerleaders at my high school would say, who rocks the house? ACB rocks the house. and when ACB rocks the house, she rocks it all the way down.

congratulations!

patty said...

Absolutely fabulous news! Congratulations to you ... and maybe I'll hear you sometime in the Bay Area?!

Sarah said...

Kick ass, girl! That's awesome! Can't wait until you sign that contract so we can hear about your gig!

Anonymous said...

I was in the house and can confirm the beauty of your perf and the spontaneous, rare response from attendees.
However, those weren't "tour groups" in the mezz; they were major donors.

Canadienne said...

Congratulations! There's nothing like that great feeling of knowing you nailed an audition!

Matthew (beloved and hated by many) has been a great source of advice and guidance to me, and has one of the best ears in the business. And, of course, he has that most distinctive "bravo"! His rep advice is usually dead-on, and I'm glad you had a chance to talk to him!

M. C- said...

What about his other ear?

(just kidding, yukyuk)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...