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 to polish up things or change anything technique-wise or performance-wise, so I was glad that I had been practicing ferociously for the past few months.
I was able to drive there with my boyfriend who was kind enough to take a day off of his classes at University to take me there, and we drove the morning of the audition, meaning that we left the apartment at 8am and got there around 11:30am.
I was scheduled to meet the pianist to work with him/her at 11:45am so I was worried that we'd gotten there too late, but fortunately a woman from the KBB (the opera houses' personnel director, you could say) came to meet me in the waiting room/lobby and took me to a room where I could warm up before I met the pianist.
I warmed up for about 15 minutes and the pianist came in at that point to work with me. However I wasn't fully warmed up just then, so I asked her if she'd be able to come back in 5 more minutes. She said it was no problem and that she'd work with some of the other singers in the meantime. So, I warmed up some more and then finally felt that I was ready to work with her, and had loosened up my stiff limbs from being in the car for so long. Luckily, I had the ability to drive with my boyfriend; I can only imagine how frazzled I might have been had I taken the train and tried to find my way from the main train station to the theater (which weren't near one another)!
Anyway, the pianist returned and we worked on the pieces I'd prepared for the audition, going over things which are particularly tricky (places where I breathe, take the tempo slower or faster, add fermatas, etc...) and things were really going well. The pianist seemed to be in a cheery mood and she was really wonderful to boot, so I am quite glad that I got to have her play for my audition.
At any rate, I was the 5th person to auditon, and I was glad that I had the opportunity to relax and focus myself after my rehearsal time with the pianist. It was also good that I wasn't the first or second because I then observed how the other auditionees did it. I wasn't aware, actually, that it was allowed during such an audition to ask for a break once you'd sung your first aria. And, that is what my colleagues did. In fact, two singers who were from the same agency sang their arias interchangeably and that way the one could take a break while the other was singing and vice versa. So, I was lucky enough to have seen this practice before I auditioned, otherwise I might have just gone from one tough aria to the next.
Upon entering to audition, the super-friendly stage manager ushered me to the side of the stage through a small hole in the curtains and I was thrust onto the stage in front of the General Intendant, the Music Director, the Dramaturg and the Assistant Dramaturg, sitting in the audience. The pianist came over to meet me in the middle of the stage and I handed her my music. She motioned for me to step into a rectangular box outlined on the floor of the stage with gaffer's tape, saying that singers sounded best from that spot.
So, I began the audition and the first piece went smoothly- and my acting went well too, which is normally difficult for that particular aria since it involves a lot of movement. Then, the audition panel themselves said they'd like to hear a second aria but asked me if I would like to take a small break before singing that, and they'd hear someone else, so I said that would be great.
I walked off the stage and went straight to the restroom while trying to mentally focus on keeping my energy up until I had to be back on stage. They had elected to hear another singer while I took my break, so I was thankful that I had at least three minutes while they finished their aria before I was back on. I exited the restroom only to run practically right into the General Intendant who had come out especially to ask me if I wouldn't mind not acting at all during the second aria, and just concentrating on my singing, to which I said that would be no problem. The Intendant seemed pleased and I was glad that they had told me that before I went ahead and acted in the second aria too (phew! that was a lucky break for sure!).
I walked around the hallways thinking of how amazing it was to be there auditioning and how much more amazing it would be to be able to sing there in the coming season, and I tried to focus that excitement into a laserbeam of energy that would come across when I sang the second aria. As I was doing this and walking back toward the door leading onto the stage, the singer who had just finished exited, and the energetic stage manager ushered me onto the stage again for my second aria.
The second aria I sang without doing nearly any acting (okay, I couldn't contain myself enough to sing it totally deadpan- I had to at least do some facial expressions and two-ish hand gestures- cut me a break!) and it went off without a hitch. At the end I was possibly more excited than when I had begun because I simply fed off the energy of just standing there and singing (for once!). It's actually a nice change to be able to audition without worrying about the acting so much in the initial stages of things- it takes the spotlight and puts it on your voice.
Anyway, I finished the audition and was glad with my performance, and was also glad to have had such a good experience at such an important moment.