Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Audition season: The season that keeps on taking

It's that sacred time of year once more. The season where singers from all over the country flock to New York. The season where they spend what little money they have in hopes that they can make more money. The season of cold and flu. The season of sleeping on couches. The season of awkward meetings with that one singer you flirted with while drunk last year. It is audition season.

Having been through quite a few of these seasons, I feel it my duty to pass down some of my wisdom to the rest of the auditioning world. Bits of advice, observations, and useful (or useless) info that will help you survive the NOLA experience.  

1. Remember, no one wants to be there. No one. Not the singers, not the pianists, not the agents, not the companies, not the guy who rents the rooms. Ok, that's not fair. Everyone wants to be there in theory but after weeks of schlepping through tourists, sweating, sitting, absorbing strangers energy, and 5,000 versions of Ach ich fuhl's, everyone is ready to spend three glorious, pants less days binge watching Netflix, preferably from the inside of a cheesecake. But it is a necessary evil and an important part of how the business works. It's a tradition, one we all take part of, and we can't change it no matter how much we bitch about it- much like Columbus Day or your drunk uncle's retirement party.


2. NOLA (and all audition places) are Satan's domain on earth. While some are better than others, (Opera America's new place is amazing!) audition venues are where happiness goes to die. They are cramped, smell, manage to be hot, cold, humid, and dry at the same time, and have horrible acoustics. Some of those rooms are like singing into an upholstered mouth. These are just facts and we all just need to accept it and move on. Myself included. I know it's hard but we can do it. One more thing before I move on #IHATENOLA. Ok, I feel a little bit better.  Basta cosi.

                               "The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places"

3. Dress appropriately for an audition. Ladies- if I'm worried your nipple might pop out or that if you bend over I might see your spanx clad cash and prizes then you probably need to rethink your audition dress choice. Guys- if your jacket looks like you stole it from Liberace's closet, you might want to tone it down. I'm not a snob. Pretty much the opposite actually but look like the professionals you are. No one wants you to look like a banker (please God no) but this ain't prom and it ain't a frat costume party. As a very wise man and mentor once said "Don't let the dress sing before you do" You are applying for a job!! Look like it.

"I'm sorry we can't hear you over your cape"

3. Wear deodorant. Please. Pretty please. People sweat. It's just the way it is but that doesn't mean you need to smell like two homeless guys swinging diapers full of rotten eggs fighting over an old order of Indian food.  Be courteous.  Don't smell.  We all have to breathe the same air.  And on that point...

4.  Don't poop in NOLA.  Just don't.  Plan your day accordingly.  There is a Starbucks around the corner.  There is a Subway down the street.  Plenty of places to let the kids go swimming.  Just don't do it at NOLA.

5. Do have confidence but don't think your audition is more important than anyone else's.  We are all there for the same reason.  To hopefully get work.  We all want to do well.  We all want to be at our best so don't act (or say) how your audition is soooooooo important.  It's really not.

6.  Don't bring so much sh*t to your audition.  There's not that much space.  Do you really need a giant purse, carry on bag, and a suitcase?  If you just came from the train station/airport, I understand.  But if you're bringing that stuff for any other reason, don't.  It takes up too much space in an already small area. You know that guy who brings his bicycle on the A train at 59th street at 5 p.m.? Don't be that guy.

7. Don't be late.  This should really be Number 1 if we're going by level of importance. Just don't.  Ever.  It screws up everyone's day.

"10 minutes late?....that's a paddlin'"

8. Don't get there too early.  You will regret it.  But see #7.

9. No one in that small little hallway cares what's on your resume.  You can use this handy tool when trying to decide whether or not talking about your resume is a good idea. Ask yourself "Should I pull my penis out right now?" "Do you think that girl would like to talk about my penis?" "My penis is pretty impressive...maybe I should talk a little bit loudly just about where it's been this year?" Now replace "penis" with "resume". The answers to the questions are the same

9a.  Don't name drop either.  ie- Don't talk about all the penises you know.

10. Do be respectful of the other singers.  We all have our own "pregame rituals."  We all have things we need to do to get us in the right mind set.  Be respectful of other's space, and let them do what they have to do to get through the audition.  Even if they are your BFF in the whole entire world, let them have their space if they need it.  They will thank you for it later.  Unless they tap dance or goat scream to get ready. You can totally point at that person. That being said...

11. Don't sing in the hallways.  It's just rude and kind of annoying.  I know it sucks huge giant donkey balls that there is no warm up space provided for us, but sadly, that's just the way it is.  We all have to suffer.  I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to this offense.  I believe a quick check in with the voce before you step in the door is ok but singing through your aria, even at a whisper, is really annoying.

12. Know what is appropriate to talk about with your fellow singers.  Things like "How have you been?" or "What's new?" or "Where are you living?" or "Where are we drinking after this?" are fine and excellent questions to ask.  Things like "Where are you working?" or "How did you get your agent?" or "Do you think they'll want to hear my german aria?" or "Do you think I'm a heldentenor?" are not appropriate.  They suck.

13.  Don't cough.  You will freak everyone the f**k out.  Coughing in NOLA is like yelling fire in a crowded theater.  If you do have to cough, make sure you cover your damn mouth!  That's just basic common courtesy.

"And YOU get Ebola! AND YOU get Ebola!!!"

14.  Do be supportive of your colleagues but don't listen at the door to other people's auditions.  That just reeks of sadness.  And it will mess with your brain. A wise person once said "Your succeess has nothing to do with someone else's failure". The opposite of that is true as well.  Be yourself.  Do your thing.

15.  Don't crash auditions.  I know it seems like a good idea.  A good way for a company that didn't grant you an audition to hear how wonderful you are.  But don't.  It screws everyone else up.  They have a schedule that they try to keep and if you crash it throws the schedule off.  Then things run behind, accompanists have to leave, people get mad at you, and children find out Santa isn't real.  Don't ruin Christmas for kids!

"He told me the Easter bunny isn't real either!! IN GERMAN!!!"

16.  Just do your thing.  Know why you are there.  Know what you need to do in order to do your best. Respect everyone else. Get in, do you, get out, and go on with your day. And get some ice cream. You deserve ice cream now, dammit!  Mmmmmmm, ice cream...


  1. And once you've used up your parent's retirement accounts on all this, carry on and smile as if nothing's happened at all.

  2. Thank you for writing this, I thought I was the only one who felt this way!!

  3. Yes yes a thousand times YES!!!! -Wilson

  4. I actually just laughed out loud while reading an article for the first time ever. The brilliance is in the total truth!!

  5. Before I had an agent I got most of my gigs by crashing. Just sayin!

  6. Kudos to you for injecting some much-needed (and razor-sharp) humor into this dreadful process! "It stings the nostrils" made me screech with laughter.

  7. Was once backstage at a competition and a tenor kept basically trying to psych me out with questions like 'I have In Fernem land as one of my arias' or 'I'm just like Corelli, my teacher said so...'

    ...I am a tenor too.

    It was so funny. He was trying so hard.

    Then, when I had alone time, I heard him bad mouth me. Lol.