All professional opera singers know the importance of auditions.
They may not be the nicest thing to do, but everyone has to do them. Whether it is an opera singer at the start of their career, or someone much further up the ladder, auditions are part of life as a professional opera singer.
So, what can the classically trained singer do to make them successful and work for them, rather than against them? Firstly, there are the obvious points like get a good night’s sleep and arrive in good time so that you don’t have to audition when you are out of breath. The second most obvious thing is of course to know the music. But there is a lot more that can be done to feel better about auditioning and even more to be successful.
One of the most important things to establish is what fach you are. Fach is German and literally means ‘compartment’. For sopranos there are several fachs. There is soubrette, lyric, coloratura and dramatic soprano to name but a few. Each voice type has sub-categories.
It is staggering how many trained opera singers leave music conservatoires and colleges without really knowing what fach they are. What does it mean in practice though?
Going back to sopranos, one can easily say that once the singer knows what fach they are, they know what arias to bring to their audition and they know what opera roles would be good for them. As you mature, sometimes a voice will change fachs. Often a soprano will move from the lighter voice type of soubrette into a lyric as they get older, or maybe after having gone through a pregnancy.
So, once you have established what kind of voice type you have, you need to choose between three to five arias of different composers, languages and styles. You must work on them with your singing teacher and your coach. It doesn’t matter if the classical singer sings them over and over again, and at every single audition. It is much more important that a professional opera singer gives a good impression, sounds and looks the part, than trying to find obscure music that will be different from every other opera singer auditioning.
There are of course times when a singer needs to think differently about the arias they bring. If say, the singer is auditioning for a specific part, they might have to learn a completely new aria for that audition. However, it still must be within that professional opera singer’s fach.
Lastly, when an opera singer goes into that audition room, it is important that they think of the panel as being on their side and that the panel actually wants to hear them. That, together with the other points discussed in this piece will bring the professional opera singer a lot more confidence, and ultimately more success. Happy auditioning!