Skip to main content

Saarbruecken!

(Note: This post was supposed to appear on the 27th of July, so please do excuse my tardiness in posting it now, I just have been swamped lately with getting things up on the blog.)


I had an audition on Monday of this week, the 26th, in Saarbruecken, which is located approximately 4 hours southwest of Dortmund by car and is the capital of the state of Saarland. The audition was for an Opera studio in the region of Saarland and Luxembourg (the country--Saarbruecken is right near the border of Germany and Luxembourg) and in particular for the opera by Jacques Offenbach called 'Ba-Ta-Clan'.

I actually received the invitation to this audition from my successful audition in Stuttgart with the ZAV (office for unemployed opera singers, basically) and he then recommended me to the conductor who was looking for singers for this program. The caveat of my being able to audition was being able to speak French in the audition (as the productions would be taking place in both French and German speaking areas, and they would be conducting the rehearsals in French as well). So, I began practicing French like crazy with an online language program (offered through my public library in PA, actually!) called Mango.  Thankfully, the practice paid off.

The day of the audition the drive to Saarbruecken (located in the small-ish state in Germany of Saarland, very close to the borders of both Luxembourg and France) lasted about 4 hours, but I was luckily the passenger, as my boyfriend was nice enough to drive me there and back (since he knew that I hadn't yet mastered a manual car, as well as the fact that I needed to concentrate mentally on the music I was about to sing).  At any rate, we got to the audition relatively early with about 35 minutes before my scheduled audition time for me to change into my dress and fix my hair (the makeup was applied in the car, as I wasn't sure we would have enough time there once finding a parking spot and everything for me to do it without rushing).

Upon entering the audition site (the Musikhochschule there in Saarbruecken) I headed for the bathroom, put on my dress, and finished my hair- I was ready!  I wandered over to the benches positioned outside of the audition room and hoped to find someone who I could ask for the location of a warm-up room, when fortunately the director of the program for which I was auditioning (the Saar-Lor-Lux Opernstudio) came out of the audition room and introduced himself.  He was wonderfully nice and told me where the practice rooms were (right around the corner, conveniently) and said I was the next person after the Baritone who was currently going to be singing.  So, into the practice room I went!

I warmed up for about 10 minutes and then came out again, not knowing whether to speak French or German or English with the other auditioning hopefuls who were waiting.  I tried French, and then when it was pretty poor with a few of the auditionees, I switched to German, and finally when that failed- they could at least all speak English.  It did seem that there was a wide age range and skill range of applicants, from having talked to a few, and I was really not sure what to expect.

After the Baritone sang his last few notes, the director of the program came out to get me in order to begin my audition.  The audition was held in the concert hall (so far, so good) and there were two other adjudicators in the room besides the Conductor/Program director.  He introduced them as the Assistant Director and the Intendant (the Stage Director).  They both spoke French (yikes! It begins!) and I tried my best to say what little I had learned in the past two weeks from my Mango studying.  At any rate, it seemed to go okay since neither of them were offended (phew, pronunciation was correct, I guess) and I went onto the stage and handed my music to the accompanist.  He had looked briefly at what I brought earlier in the hallway before I went in, and now he seemed mildly bewildered.  I began with "Les oiseaux dans la charmille" from Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes D'Hoffmann and it was a complete disaster.  The accompanist just couldn't play it AT ALL.  I mean, it's not a complicated accompaniment, and if nothing else at least he could have played one of the hands in the right tempo (right?).  But, to no avail, I tried to get him to take my tempo (which was not fast by any means, but, which was MUCH faster than he wanted to go) and then when he just was completely lost at about 1 minute into the piece he completely stopped playing altogether and just let me sing the rest of the piece a capella.  Talk about crazy!  I honestly was so shocked that he did not know the piece and that he had done so badly that I really didn't have very much concentration left to put into my singing (and hopefully, although I can't promise anything, my shock and dismay didn't read TOO loudly on my face).  At any rate, I got through it surprisingly well, I thought, after such an occurrence, and I sang the next song that was titled "No.2 Romance" from the piece that they were going to be performing, also from Offenbach, called Ba-Ta-Clan.

Then, of course the requisite 'sit-down' with the jury panel was called for, and I waited with baited breath for them to say something about the accompanist's gigantic flop, but it was as if it never happened. Strange... So, they said they very much liked me and they weren't sure whose voices would match together best (since the opera Ba-Ta-Clan is written only for a Soprano, Baritone, and Bass-Baritone) and that they would need to consider that blend before getting back to anyone about getting the gig or not.  Therefore, they thanked me for the audition, said they very much liked me, and then sent me on my way.

The drive back to Dortmund seemed hopeful as that was the first audition in Germany where the adjudicators seemed so pleased with my singing (and in Germany they don't tell you that often) and so I hoped to receive something positive via email in the days to come.  However, all of my expectations were left unfulfilled when they responded to me approximately four weeks later saying that they were very sorry but that they had not yet chosen a Soprano (still!) but that they were not going to be choosing anyone who had been at that audition and they would be holding another set of auditions with completely different singers in the next week.  Well, you can imagine my surprise upon reading that email.

But, I guess it just wasn't the right gig for me.  No matter, I will keep pressing on! :)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Long Can Opera Singers Sing Per Day?

To those readers who aren't singers (or even those who are) I would like to take some time today to talk about the proper and measured use of our voices (speaking and singing) during the course of a normal day and over the course of a normal week.

This subject has come to mind for me because of factors relating to everyone' normal daily lives.  We are technologically-connected beings who are constantly communicating with someone, somewhere, somehow.  Sure, it's great to talk at work with your co-workers during lunch break, or have a phone conversation with your Grandmother for an hour every Tuesday, but just how much is all that talking really weighing on your voice in an overall evaluation?

Because I have been singing six days a week for at least two hours since last June (and have really kept that schedule up- amazingly--okay, except for Christmas break at which point I didn't sing for 1.5 weeks) I've noticed that speaking frequently over the course the day would…

Opera Chorus Jobs: The Warm-Up

When I talk to non-musicians and non-singers about the difficulty of breaking into the solo career scene in Opera, they ask me (as any logical person would) "Well, why not just join the chorus? At least you could be still doing what you love- singing!"  And, while this is a very sensible plan and a good one in theory, it actually has a lot of pitfalls that I'd like to explain now to you in this post.  This will also hopefully bring about some good conversation from my operatic colleagues who are opera chorus members, or who are thinking of doing it, or who are opera house managers and who deal with chorus singers and the system of how the hiring works.

I must stress that what I am saying here is in no way the only view on the matter, but it is an informed one, as I know many chorus singers are various size opera houses, and I see and hear about the politics associated with being a chorus singer through being in the opera business and being around those people in charge o…

My Audition for a REAL Opera House in Germany!

This past Tuesday I had my first German Opera House audition!  I was asked at the last minute by a colleague who worked there to audition for a role they're looking to cast next season and which I sing, and have sung for this colleague in an audition before.  (Sorry, I can't be any more specific with names because I don't want to jinx it.)  Honestly, I was really lucky to have been asked to audition since normally these sorts of things don't happen unless you have an agent who knows about the vacancy which the theater is looking to fill, and then sends you there, and actually, all of the other singers who were there to audition had agencies.  So, I was quite overjoyed to have been invited, to say the least.

However, sticking to the point- I'd like to relate what the experience was like.

I heard of the audition on a Friday and the audition itself was taking place on Tuesday of the following week, so in four days.  That really didn't give me a whole lot of time t…