“Opera Singer Season” is Open – Auditions

February 1, 2008

Every year, beginning in late October, what is known as “audition season” opens. Unlike deer season, duck season or any other type of hunting where the game tries to escape the predator, this is the time when opera singers from around the country converge on New York City and walk willingly into the line of fire. The season hits it’s high the first 2 weeks of December when opera companies from around the country clamber to find studio space to hear the hundreds of singers antsy to show their stuff.

The busiest of the studios is simply known as Nola. Located in Midtown, it’s a pretty convenient location to many places in the city – unless you live on the east side since no trains run crosstown (see Welcome to the Jungle for more info on that). But most singers can’t afford to live over there anyway, so for us, it’s a pretty good location.

Remember, these auditions are our job interviews, so take a moment and think about your last job interview. You were likely the only one there waiting in the hall. Perhaps you were offered a glass of water while you waited. Someone came out and greeted you with a friendly smile. Your were probably nervous going into the interview, but at least the company made an effort to make your experience somewhat bearable. Now, step out of your world and join me in my job interview.

I wake up early because someone decided that making singers sing at 9:30 in the morning is a great idea. I’ve managed to tick off all my neighbors by singing at the top of my lungs at 7:30. I’m dressed to kill and have meticulously done my hair and make up. I arrive at the 16 floor building where Nola Studios is housed on 2 or 3 of the floors (I’m not really sure how many floors, because the place is a maze). I step off the elevator and am greeted by a cozy (aka – stifling, cramped, stuffy, HOT!!!) hall full of at least 50 singers squeezing past each other trying to find which room they are supposed to be singing in. I hear random names being screamed out by different audition monitors for the 10 or so companies hearing people that day. By the time I get there, there’s no where to sit, or even stand, so after pushing my way through people to check in for my audition, I squeeze back out and wait by the bathroom around the corner waiting to hear my name. I realize that in my hurry to leave my apartment, I managed to forget my water bottle (which is like forgetting your No. 2 pencil for your SAT). I already feel like a dope, and the feeling intensifies as I wind my way to the drinking fountain to find that it is covered in plastic. Apparently, in a place where singers and dancers often tread, having a working drinking fountain doesn’t seem necessary. In a moment of despair and desperation, I squeeze into the bathroom that is hardly big enough for 1 person (though it has two stalls) and find 3 other ladies warming up, doing hair and make up, and one even managing to change clothes. I get a little handful of water just to wet my mouth.

Finally, back in the hall, I hear my name squawked and I make my way to door #2. Unless I have sung for this particular company before, or have scouted it out with other colleagues who have sung for them before, I have no idea what awaits me behind that door. It could be a brand new, red sports car or the 7 day vacation to the swamp. Either way, I have to enter. Fortunately, more often then not, I have found that most of the auditioners are pleasant and do their best to make your experience in the audition as enjoyable as possible. But, heck, if you survive the trek to the room, it shows a lot of chutzpah, and I’d hope that they would be pleasant!

My journey has now taken me about 2 1/2 hours, and I have 10 minutes in front of these folks before they hear the next hundred singers. For most of the places I am currently singing, the company will hear between 200-800 singers for anywhere between 4-40 positions, depending on how the company operates. Pretty tough odds, but we keep doing it year in and year out.

Some people would consider this insanity – I sometimes wonder if they’re right.

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2 Responses to ““Opera Singer Season” is Open – Auditions”

  1. BeckStein Says:

    Oh God, I hate the squeezing of audition Halls, I feel your pain. Haha, and I often forget my water bottle…it’s the one thing you have to remember, right after your auditon book…lol. Oh well, atleast I generally remember my music. I won’t say always, because then I’ll jinx myself and forget it for my upcoming auditions.

    Enjoying you’re blogging so far…see you at rehearsals.

    xo,
    -Bex


  2. […] world of audition season in NYC the first 2 weeks of December. If you missed it, it is a must read. Truly, it will give you insight into a world you never dreamed anyone ever actually willingly […]

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