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Saturday, October 30, 2010

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! :)

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