A Newbie’s Guide to Opera Auditions

Opera auditions are unique — generally you (the singer) must be prepared to sing 3-5 operatic arias (songs) in several different languages, pay a professional pianist and sing your face off. Here’s some essential information for what to expect and how to prepare your best for opera auditions, including protocol for “crashing” and audition without an appointment.

Accompanists for auditions

When do you need one, how much they charge, who to choose

Whenever you have a difficult or rarely done song/aria to present, it is advisable to bring your own accompanist, even if there will be one provided. You just never know how well that “provided” accompanist will play your obscure piece. Similarly, if there is a piece in which you feel you rely heavily on your accompanist, you should use your own, and rehearse with that individual as much as possible before the audition.

Classical vocal accompanists in New York City generally charge from $35 to play an audition, more if it is far away or difficult to get to. If you and a singer with a time slot next to yours both use the same accompanist, the accompanist will often charge you each less.

To find coach/accompanists, check out this directory compiled by our friends at Classical Singer magazine.

Crashing auditions

What? Don’t you mean crashing parties? No, crashing AUDITIONS. To crash is to be an unexpected, uninvited guest. So, just like at a party, make sure before you crash the audition that you know (1) that it’s really where you want to be, (2) that you are exceedingly polite and well-behaved, (3) that you are in rare form.

Many auditioners are happy to hear someone that just walked in, provided there is time available (i.e., someone canceled, and you’re filling the time). As well, if you are just what they’re looking for, only they didn’t know it yet, they are even more happy. On the other hand, if you waltz in and demand to be squeezed into an already tight schedule, you will probably make people mad. This is never good, even if you sing exceptionally well in the audition itself. Casting directors and producers are looking for great talent that is great to work with. And remember, always assume that the audition monitor is one of the most important people in the company. S/he just may be!

So, if you hear of an audition at the last minute, and you’ve just got to show ‘em your stuff, go ahead and try it. But be prepared that they may not have time, and put your best foot forward! Good luck!