Why Some Singers Get Hired,
and Others Don't
The biggest question that resonates widely among emerging and well-prepared singers all over the country is -- “Why do some singers get hired, instead of others – who often possess better voices and preparation?”
This has got to be the biggest frustration for all those singers who have spent their time, energy, and money getting ready for singing roles on stage professionally, but who can’t seem to get past their auditions and land that vital stepping stone credit to their resumes – a decent role with a decent company.
In my four decades of running opera companies and festivals --- and as one who has hired singers of every rank and experience for major roles as well as for young artist programs for these companies (Virginia Opera & Lyric Opera Virginia, Shanghai Opera, Mexico City National Opera at Bellas Artes) and Festivals (Buck Hill-Skytop, Maputo International Music Festival), as well as my work with IOA (International Opera Alliance) all around the US and the world, I have watched and helped thousands of gifted singers achieve the crucial final steps on their road to operatic success and fulfillment.
On top of all the voice lessons, language and diction coaches, character and dramatic analysis and guidance which singers need and seek in preparing for their auditions, I find that there are two essential areas that are crucial to getting hired, but often get overlooked. The first one is how to channel all of that segmented and diverse preparation into an integrated audition that demonstrates the singer’s ability to project both their voice and their performing persona with enough appropriate emotion to reach and engage the back rows of a paying audience in an opera theater. The second, which is related to the first, is how to develop a working relationship as well as a superior performance with a conductor. This is both the key to getting hired - since most auditions are judged by music staff, -- and the key to good performances once hired. It is after all the conductor who has the key experience and responsibility of developing, guiding, and insuring that your vocal delivery is freely ringing, enabling it to carry “over” the orchestra, that it is true to the score with all of the composer’s instrumental colors and refinements, and that it is projected enough in its larger emotional performing persona to reach every audience member in a large theater – not just in a smaller audition space. It is this last criteria which really makes the difference -- to every singer’s career. And it is the crucial one (!!) that is often not addressed – leaving singers perhaps feeling frustrated that they were what they think of as ‘fully prepared,’ but without the opportunities to perform and develop, further diminishing their projected persona and chance of success, which could compound negatively with each attempt. However, if this last criteria is subject to the same focus and attention as the other areas of preparation, then it can be developed too – to the best of one’s abilities.
In view of all I have learned from my own background, --- which includes an early inspiring three seasons as the top boy soprano at the METROPOLITAN OPERA (performing with the opera greats Albanese, Tebaldi, Steber, Stevens, Bjoerling, Tucker, Warren, Del Monaco, and others), years of performing as a solo, chamber, and orchestral violinist and violist, and of teaching, and then 4 decades of choosing, guiding, conducting and mentoring singers at opera companies and festivals-- it is really the conductor who is the best person to address these final crucial issues to prepare singers for self-actualization and success, by helping them work directly on their PROJECTION of the music through their voices and performing personas. It is for this very reason that I have been scheduling Opera Masterclasses “From The Conductor’s Perspective” in NYC and LA and through opera companies and festivals in recent years. These classes do not in any way substitute for the necessary ongoing work with your voice teachers and other coaches, but they should be able to integrate all of that preparation for you quite quickly, and get you to focus on and to improve the power, the reach, and the success of your own performing persona in upcoming auditions and appearances.
Experience it for yourself. Book now coaching or a masterclass.