Friday, October 30, 2009

Audition Lessons

So... Monday’s audition will probably go down in my version of my history as the worst. ever.

I can not begin to tell you all the “lessons” I learned. But, since that’s kind of the whole point of this blog, I guess I’ll try. On the subway on the way home, I thought, “WHY did I mention this audition on the blog?! Now I have to tell them all about it!” It’s one I’ll never forget, but one that’s been surprisingly easy to leave behind.

Lesson #1: Sing what you have been preparing for!! If you’ve been preparing a new aria and you have a low-stress audition opportunity in which to debut that aria, do not be swayed by the fact that you might also be considered for a role in a crazy, sexy, rarely produced show.

I got so excited by this obscure sexy role that I let a chance to rock my new rep pass me by. Sure, in the coaching room two hours beforehand, both arias sounded great, but when I got into the audition, other factors (see Lessons #2 & #3) came into play, and I lost my focus. Badly. I should have presented *my rep* first and foremost, and let them see me and the other sopranos and then make whatever casting decision they will. As it was, I feel like I wasted their time, whereas if I’d just come in and nailed “Come scoglio,” I might have gotten a job.

Lesson #2: Know who your pianist is going to be, even if you are scheduled fairly last-minute for an audition. And if you are not 100% certain that they can play your difficult rep, DON’T OFFER IT.

I spent way too much energy while singing worrying about what was happening at the keyboard, wondering if we were going to make it. I wasn’t performing. I was thinking, and worrying, and I’m sure it showed all over my face.

Lesson #3: I can sing high notes after low notes, but not vice versa.

In the coaching room we ran through Fiordiligi first, to test my memory and make sure my tempo in the second section was set. Then we sang through the last half of Zerb, mostly just for kicks. The high notes were really there, and I was stoked. But when I got to the audition, I was so excited to sing the Strauss (see #1) that I started with it. When it didn’t go nearly as well as I wanted (although the E was pretty good!), I got tense, and when I got tense, my larynx raised, and I can’t sing Fiordiligi’s sexy low notes with a raised larynx. FAIL.

It was not fun. It was the only time in my auditioning career that I felt like running off the stage in the middle of singing. But we ended with the usual “thank you, thank YOU” and I went home. Disappointed in myself, but grateful that it was a small-house international audition and not a US house with colleagues of mine behind the table. And then...

I got home to a voice mail which led to a phone call about a potential job this weekend: a colleague was ill, and I might be needed to step in and sing a performance if she wasn’t better by opening. All of a sudden, the terrible audition is a thing of the past! We are moving forward here, people! No time to sulk; life, and opera, goes on.

The company ended up not needing me*, but the effect was as big as if I’d done the gig. I was reminded that all things, good and bad, pass. That audition was over and I couldn’t do anything about it, so I might as well move on. The rest of week was filled with other reminders that I am more than one bad audition. Great rehearsals, job possiblities, good singing, and most importantly: putting more auditions on the calendar.

There is always something to learn (or to be reminded of) in this business; we are never done. And there is always another audition.

*This is a good thing. While it would be a great adventure for me to step in last-minute, that sort of thing is very stressful on a cast and company, not to mention the poor sick singer who did all that work in rehearsal. Remember, we only get paid for performances, not rehearsals. I was happy for her and for the company that they got to present the show they rehearsed. Toi toi, all!

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