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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Selecting Audition Arias
Wendy Nielsen

Editor's Note: The following article is excerpted from Making Choices: A Singer's Guide from Classrooms to Contracts, the fourth book in OPERA America's Perspectives series. For more information or to purchase these publications, visit

I often joke with singers that we are all waiting for our letter from God that reads:

Dear Wendy,

Your five audition arias should be:
  1. Mi tradì (Don Giovanni)
  2. Embroidery Aria (Peter Grimes)
  3. Vissi d'arte (Tosca)
  4. Song to the Moon (Rusalka)
  5. Es gibt ein reich (Ariadne auf Naxos)
Love, God

About the Author: Canadian soprano and voice teacher Wendy Nielsen made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1996 as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and has since performed numerous roles there including Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Micaela in Carmen and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She has appeared with opera companies including the Canadian Opera Company, The Minnesota Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Calgary Opera, Edmonton Opera, L'Opéra de Montréal and Florida Grand Opera. Her orchestral and recital appearances include the New York Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Lucerne Summer Festival, Warsaw Beethoven Festival, Montreal Symphony, Chinese Philharmonic and the Toronto Symphony. She is artistic director of the St Andrews Opera Workshop, a faculty member of the COSI program in Sulmona, Italy, chair of the board of directors of Debut Atlantic and a board member of

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