Saturday, April 12, 2008

Head Games

It’s been a rough couple of days, career-wise, and I can’t really get into it here without lots of thinly-veiled references. There are some important ideas to try and get across, though, so I’m going to try my best.

I sang an audition yesterday for someone I sang for recently in a different forum, and while the first instance was far from a bomb, it, um, wasn’t terribly well-received. I was nervous today in a way I haven’t been in a while, the butterflies in my stomach almost making me nauseous. For a brief moment, I considered “calling in sick.” How was I going to redeem myself? What if I didn’t?

I’ve been learning - or trying to learn - a lesson recently: not everyone is going to love what I do. Art is subjective, people have deeply held ideas of what is “right,” blah blah blah... I know all those things, but it is still unsettling to hear that someone really disapproved of the way I sang something. And then to have to put myself out there for their judgement again? Not an easy day at the office.

So, I steeled myself as best I could, made sure I looked fabulous, and armed myself with standard arias. I thought about my interpretations, how I wanted to present these arias that EVERY soprano sings. Should I scale myself back, give a more vanilla interpretation? Try to guess how they think the characters should be presented? No way. I’m an acting singer. Anything less than my full interpretation of a character, an aria, is not really acceptable to me. I would go into this audition and show them that in addition to the somewhat unorthodox and slightly unpolished (and very tired...) singer they heard before, I am also a bit of a purist. I would rely on good singing and musicianship to show my stuff. And if they still didn’t like it? Well, then there wouldn’t be much more to worry about.

I got there a bit late, and they were running early, so I paused for just a minute to give the pianist a rundown of my pieces, and we were on. I sang my first piece (Mozart), and they asked for Juliette, just as I’d hoped (I have really come to love that aria...), and I sang it with all my heart. And then, when it was over, since there was time, we actually talked about the previous audition! Compliments were paid and disappointments expressed, but more importantly, honest thoughts were expressed from both sides of the table, and I walked away feeling like I had just engaged in one of the most constructive conversations of my career. Not in terms of “oh yeah, I totally got the job,” but more in a sense that I presented myself well to someone who wanted me to do well, and had been stymied by the fact that I didn’t.

It was a draining few days, but as with every hurdle, I came away feeling more in command of my self as a singer. Ultimately, it’s up to me to believe in my work, to know that I can deliver a product that I am proud of. Like I said, a hard lesson to learn... Stay tuned for further chapters; I’m sure there will be many.


Chip said...

I really resonate with your post.

While I am a composer rather than a singer, the idea that not everyone will love what I write is a foregone conclusion. If you read the most recent post my blog ( you'll see Philip Glass has the same sort of hot and cold response...

So, take heart. Love what you do and the love of it (for nothing else) will win people over.

Marc said...

Build up...still building up...and no payoff!!!!? Did you get the job? Have to wait for future chapters, I s'pose.

Gregory said...

I can relate. You've been pretty lucky so far in that most people like what you're doing.

Which only makes it harder when someone important says, ""

Many hugs, babe.

Mme A said...

Thank you thank you thank you for posting this.

The best compliment I've ever received was "You are a Seeker of Truth."

Well, ACB, YOU are a seeker of truth.

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