Rolling with it

This past Friday I had an audition that was important to me for a variety of reasons.  A few weeks ago I had solicited for one of the time slots in the Boston Lyric Opera general auditions.  These are typically annual auditions at which those who are selected may showcase their wares for the listening panel while not being considered for a specific role or production.  Since this was to be my first formal singing audition in quite awhile, I wanted to do my best to have everything in order. 

After having been briefly sick, and after the performance of the Mozart, I worked to focus on the audition and presenting the best me possible.  I thought of bobsled drivers who take photos of competition tracks and their turns, and then mentally review the runs multiple times in the weeks leading up to the event so they have achieved a laser-like focus.  I made a list of my goals on a Post-it note and stuck it to my mirror, so I could read it each time I looked in or passed the mirror.  My most important goals were to have a good time and leave the audition room feeling as though I had given my best.  But, as can happen, there are many elements out of one's control in situations such as these (and especially in auditions!) and this one was no exception.

We were instructed to arrive no later than 15 minutes prior to our audition time slots, which I did.  I'd had a bang-up rehearsal in the practice room about 90 minutes prior, so I was feeling confident in my presentation of the characters and in the physical performance of the notes.  I met a lovely woman at the check-in desk and retrived the forms I needed to complete per her request.  Oh, crap!  I'd forgotten to type my repertoire list.  I knew from the audition materials received previously that a typed rep list was suggested, but I'd forgotten.  How silly of me!  No matter.  I could write in my selections for the day at the bottom of the one of the forms. 

There were three or four other individuals waiting to audition before me, and I knew a couple of them from the BLO production in the fall, so that put me at ease somewhat.  One thing I used to hate about singing auditions was hearing the people before me through the audition room door.  However, this time, I didn't seem to mind so much.  Perhaps this is due to maturation, or mental preparation, or knowing that this is a general audition.  Whatever. 

I stepped into a provided warm-up space (amazing, as they're hardly ever available) and checked to make sure everything was still in working order vocally.  When I came out, it was revealed that the tenor scheduled to sing after me ended up auditioning before me and was already singing.  I ended up being the last one to sing before lunch.  Hm.  Okay. 

Prior to stepping into the room, I had inquired if there was a chair available in the room.  "A chair?" came the incredulous inquiry.  Perhaps I had just sprouted a second head.  I deduced from this reaction that no one before me had used a chair.  The woman working the check-in desk volunteered the chair she had been using for the morning.  When my turn came I entered the room, chair in hand, and placed myself accordingly after handing the pianist my notebook.  One of the individuals on the panel observed I had brought my own prop.  I replied, "Yes, if that's alright with you." 

"What would you like to begin with?" I was asked.  I named the aria I wanted to start with, indicating that it was rather long and I thought it best to begin in the middle and go to the end. 

"Thank you for respecting our time." came the reply.  Honestly, I figured I was the last one before lunch, lunch was already late and they were probably hungry, so making my first selection brief might encourage them to request another piece if they so desired. 

Luck was not on my side.  The pianist seemed to acknowledge the notations I had indicated on the score and we began--at a too-slow tempo.  I tried to speed her up by singing ahead of her, but it didn't work: my first melisma was too slow and I ran out of air near the end.  This was after I accidentally stepped on my dress.  (Not that graceful, really.)  As we made the return to the A section of the aria, I felt I had things under control and I can say I feel confident I wrapped up well. 

"Thank you." came the response.  This is the universal commentary for: We don't need or want to hear any more.  You may leave, now.  I thanked the panel and departed with the chair and my music. 

I didn't feel I'd had a good time, nor had I done my best.  I wanted to give a kick-ass performance and that just didn't happen.  I did take away some good lessons, though, for my next audition. 

Lessons Learned:

  1. always remember to bring typed rep list
  2. when beginning with a lesser-known aria, consider bringing own pianist
  3. remember to pull up the dress so not to step on myself
  4. think karmic thoughts to avoid being scheduled immediately before lunch
  5. don't be outwardly shocked when a request to borrow a chair elicits ostensible confusion

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