Thursday, May 19, 2011

Auditions these days

From today’s status on Facebook: “I have got to stop psyching myself out about auditions. I’ve been getting SO nervous these days and yet they always - knock knock - go well. I’ve got to trust more...”

I had an audition today for a company that was hearing rep for the next four years out. Lots of rep, and lots of “opera’s greatest hits,” which naturally includes many roles I am dying to get under my belt: Gilda, Lucia, Violetta, et al. Yesterday I sang through a couple of my arias, and things were going beautifully. I felt like I was singing lightly, without pushing or trying to make my voice sound bigger than it is, and yet the richness that has come into my voice over the past few years was there. High notes were feeling great. Even Henry seemed to like it. (There is nothing better than singing “Caro nome” with Henry in my arms, him laughing at each coloratura passage...)

But then this morning? I was a nervous wreck. I almost felt sick to my stomach in the cab on the way to the audition. What happened to the blasé auditioner I used to be??

A friend asked if I felt like motherhood had anything to do with these relatively new feelings, and I’ve been pondering that all day. I think the easy answer is yes, if only because the list of things I need to do in order to get ready and BE ready for an audition is so much longer these days. It’s not just about putting on a dress and praying for a good hair day anymore!

It’s harder to warm up well, since we can’t sing while Henry is sleeping. (I was just sure I would have a baby who could sleep through it, but alas!) I had to worry about the timing of feeding and naps and my departure. I got too busy with other stuff and forgot to feed myself, and so my blood sugar made me shaky and irritable. I was running out of time trying to warm up and review my arias, and the later it got, the more nervous I became and the tighter my voice got. All the confidence I had yesterday fell away with each vibrato-less high D or inflexible and imprecise run.

And yet how did it end? With me walking out of the audition room with my head high, feeling like I had not only sung the best I could sing today given the circumstances, but feeling like I was singing my best ever! What is this disconnect?

True, before the audition I had some time to collect myself and eat a Clif bar, as they were running late. I took one difficult aria off my list, freeing me up a little. I put on my kickass red lipstick. I chatted with colleagues and generally relaxed a bit before heading in.

But mostly? In the audition room I did what I just can’t do at home: I performed. I got my head out of the way and just sang and loved it. The high notes were there, and I remembered all my words. It was a great audition.

And it almost always happens this way! Why can’t I remember this in the hour beforehand, when I am freaking out and making myself - and my family - miserable? I never have these feelings for performances, only auditions. Is it something I’ve come to depend on, this dance of fear and doubt and the conquering thereof? Or is it just that I feel that the stakes are higher now, that I have more to gain and lose? I need the work, after all. Baby needs new shoes!

Who knows. I’m grateful that today turned out the way it did, and thankful to have such a supportive husband and smiley baby. We each, the three of us, have obstacles to overcome everyday, and we do our best to help each other out. It could be a hell of a lot worse...


Sibyl said...

Hey! Welcome back and, erm, bon voyage!

Mendel Markel, said...

Interesting post. I've had a similar experience the first time I actually sang for money, I was very nervous - more than usual. I guess it was more pressure to perform. While I always have initial nerves and stage fright, it usually disappears as soon as I start singing, but that time it remained through the whole performance. Eventually I did get used to it though. Great post!

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