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Auditioning for and with an Artist Manager
Audition Connection •
Through my work as an artist manager, I observe my artists perform many company auditions each year, in addition to the auditions I hold twice a year to fill out my roster. The process to obtain an audition with a manager is different than obtaining a company audition, but many of the same tenets apply.
In all cases, and each time you put yourself forward, you should present yourself in the best light possible. Every detail, from your publicity materials to your audition performance, should reflect the highest level of professionalism.
Auditioning for Management
Janice Mayer & Associates, LLC, holds auditions for management twice each year. As with most managers, auditions are by invitation only, and are usually based on the recommendation of an opera professional or another artist on my roster. Because I only hear auditions twice per year, I cannot hear an artist who is not available that day. In rare cases, how- ever, if a packet of materials comes with an extremely good cover letter, and they have the requisite experience, I may invite that person to audition.
Each manager arranges their auditions differently with respect to time and space. Usually, auditions are held in the evening, at Merkin Recital Hall. As each singer is given 15 minutes, it is designed to be an efficient process. Be aware that auditioning for management is different than auditioning for a company. For one thing, I need to hear how you sing in a variety of mediums. In addition to your standard arias, you should come prepared with songs and orchestral repertoire as well.
If I am interested after the audition, then I will contact the artist for an “interview.” With a manager, you have to make sure it’s a good partnership. Though the voice and artistry are most important to me, a good chemistry is the foundation of a solid working relationship. A manager works with an artist to develop his/ her career, and so at this stage, I want to make sure that your goals are realistic, in line with what I hear in your voice, and that I really can help you to achieve them. Finding a manager is a long process, and is not necessarily limited to the day of the audition.
Also rarely, but occasionally, I will take an artist on my roster who I have seen in performance. However, I will usually ask that person to audition anyway, especially if the performance I saw was in a very limited repertoire. Conversely, I may go to see an artist in performance who I liked at the audition in order to get a better sense of his/her stage presence or acting skills. Again, a manager makes a real investment.
Once you have obtained an audition, you should prepare properly. This includes being aware of your financial responsibilities. For example, I pay for the hall for my auditions, but require that you bring your own pianist. You may be responsible for both, or neither.
From your publicity materials forward, you should present yourself accurately and professionally. Your materials should always be clear and completely honest. This is especially true when you send your materials to a manager. In addition to accuracy, consider the following:
Your photo should be flattering and in clear focus.
Whether you send a résumé or a bio, and I have no preference, it must honestly and accurately reflect your career.
If you have covered or understudied a role, then state that. Include your education background: who you studied with, and where; which roles you have learned; master classes; and other experiences. You may not have many credits, but you want to give a sense of progression, and show development in your career. Be careful who you include as references, because I will often contact those you list. Make sure that they can speak to your work and will speak well of you.
Proof your résumé or a bio, cover letter, and any other materials thoroughly. All materials should appear professional and have correct grammar and spelling. When listing roles and opera titles in foreign languages, check and double check the spelling, capitalization, and accents.
If you send tapes, CDS, or videos, and would like them returned, then you must provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope with the proper postage.
When preparing for the actual audition, consider the following:
Rehearse with the pianist before hand. Your preparation should include adequate and thorough rehearsal time with your pianist. As in any audition, this may be your only opportunity to make a good impression. Even if you are coming in from out of town, build that rehearsal time into your schedule.
Consider this: many of the New York City pianists are used to playing only operatic auditions, and may not be familiar with your song repertoire. Song repertoire especially hinges on collaboration between two artists. This is one crucial element of presenting yourself in the best possible light.
Plan how and where you will warm up. Many halls do not have rooms to warm up in, and your voice can often be heard if you warm up in a public space. This will disturb your colleagues’ auditions and is unprofessional. Of course it is a challenge to get to the audition and stay vocally warm, especially in the winter, but it is common courtesy to consider who can hear you as you practice.
Dress appropriately. Look professional, and dress to flatter yourself, but remember that this is an audition and not a recital. Most importantly, look the best that you can look.
Either speak a list or give a printed copy of your audition repertoire; I have no preference.
Working with a Manager
Once you are on my roster, and before the audition season begins, we will review your audition repertoire. Together, we choose arias that will represent you in the best light. Of course, we make sure to have a selection of arias in contrasting languages and styles. We will discuss which one to start with, if given a choice. This is an important consideration because you may not get to sing more than one piece, and you want to make sure it’s your best. Also, be mindful of a company’s audition schedule. Do not plan to sing a 12 minute aria if the audition only lasts 10 minutes. I cannot stress enough the importance of being able to sing your pieces in any order. You must be able to sing them one after the other interchangeably. Do you put a piece last in your mind because the language is difficult, it’s long, or it tends to wear you out? You may be asked to sing that first, and follow it with another piece.
The group of pieces that we select is designed to allow the listener to judge you as an artist across the board. Of course, if an artist has had success with a particular role and the company is producing that opera, then he/she will sing that aria. However, I do not advise that you try to learn a piece on short notice. If possible, you should show that you are aware of a connection between the qualities of an aria you are singing, and how it relates to a piece they are casting. You may point out that connection, and then add that if it doesn’t show what they need to hear, offer to come back with a particular aria prepared.
In addition to companies, a conductor looking for a specialist or a soloist for symphonic repertoire will hold an audition from time to time. I always try to give enough notice for an artist to prepare repertoire in the appropriate medium, but sometimes that is impossible. That is one reason it is important to be comfortable with your audition pieces in a variety of mediums. Again, I do not recommend that you try to learn the piece for an audition on short notice.
Opera auditions are a team effort between the manager, artist, and company. It is important for a manager to consider the needs of a company as well as of the artist. For example, I particularly pay attention to
About the Author: President, Janice Mayer & Associates, LLC