A young(ish) opera singer's random thoughts and observations.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

No escape...

I hate auditions. I have mentioned it more than once on here, but now I have a new reason to hate them: even when I have none coming up, when I've got so much other stuff going on... I can't get away from auditions!

The reason for this is simple: college won't let me, and to be honest, they're right. This week I had a couple of sessions with Donald Maxwell (for anyone who doesn't know who he is, google him, his biography on his agent's website is a hilarious read, just scrolling down endlessly through roles he's sung at the best opera houses in the world), which my head of department said to use not just for singing, but also to pick his brain about my future (no, he's not clairvoyant, but apparently we have similar voice-types). So I did, and we chatted about roles that would be worth looking at, and then inevitably: auditions!

I sang him what I'd been auditioning with in the past 7 months (Largo al factotum, Pierrot's Tanzlied) as well as a new addition to my rep that I had just wanted to look at to have a go at Britten: Tarquinius' aria. Turns out the only thing Donald would recommend I keep in my audition portfolio was the Britten!

Before you jump to the most logical conclusion, no, I am not awful at the other 2 arias! However, as Donald said: they could do with being a bit more effortless. I can get through them fine, sing them in succession, multiple times a day, perform them in concerts, I enjoy singing them! But he has a point, they're not quite as effortless as I'd like them to be 100% of the time. He heard me on an average day, however I hadn't sung them in ages, so call it a 5-6/10 performance. The problem is, auditions pile on the stress, so getting above a 7-8/10 when on form is a good result.

Yes, Figaro and Fritz are roles I could sing, I should keep singing the arias (I haven't even been singing them for a year yet, after all, and some things come with time), but for auditions one wants something foolproof. Something you can sing on your worst day at 7am having rolled off your bed still drunk. BUT they can't be easy! They have to show off what you can do best! Ummm... help?

Donald's advice was to try some pieces that display similar characteristics to the Rossini and Korngold, but down one notch on the difficulty scale. Oddly enough, the Tarquinius can in many ways replace the Pierrot, and (apparently) shows off something that Donald thinks I am very good at: singing in English. Yay! Not only will I be the best opera-singer/whitewater-kayaker hybrid in the UK (I think I already am, though I'm not particularly great at either ;) ), but I may be the only Polish singer who develops a reputation as a specialist in singing English operatic repertoire*. After all, that is what Scottish Opera hired me for!

Armed with Donald's suggestions for new arias to look at, along with tips on how to work at making the ones I already have seem more effortless, I now have 6 months to come up with a winning formula. Shame I'm so busy...

* If anyone can think of a person who beats me in either category, please let me know by calling: 0800-SHATTERMYDREAMS

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