Advice For A Successful Audition

Preparing Resumés

Limit to one page. Put your name at the top, centered in the middle. Under the name: Vocal category. Address, phone number on the left margin, etc. There are several ways to do it, but make it simple and easy to read.

List roles chronologically or most important roles first. This varies. Include when and where you have performed them. List professional work first, then roles performed at school. Be sure to list roles you have done only in scenes as well, and be sure to indicate that they were scenes, not the entire role. Then list roles in preparation, if you have any. If you have oratorio experience, list that here. Then list your education and teachers. Finally, any significant prizes you have won, or in the case of something like MET or Belvedere, even placing is important.

The more experience you have, the less information you will provide from schools or small companies. It depends upon where you are in your career.

Be careful about listing mixed Fachs on your resumé. You don’t want to confuse them.

List only Master classes you have PARTICIPATED IN – not attended.

Audition Attitude

Be sure you are prepared BEFORE you enter the audition room. Get your music in order, have your resume and headshot, your audition aria list and whatever else you need. Even if you submitted your materials online, bring an extra set with you. The audition panel may have misplaced them and you want your first impression to be professional.

Make immediate contact with people you’re auditioning for the minute you walk in. First impressions are of utmost importance, and you only have a few minutes. Be pleasant but not overly casual. You will also be assessed on your ability to think on your feet and adjust to different situations.

Prepare a list of your audition arias for the panel. Even if you can recite your arias from memory without stumbling, the panel usually likes to see a list to look at what else you do besides your chosen aria. You are limited to a few minutes, so don’t waste a minute or more talking about all of the pieces you can also offer.

As you give your music to the accompanist, be brief and clear. Also be sure your music is in a folder, with pages easy to turn, with cuts clearly marked. If possible, talk to the accompanist before entering the room. This will save time from your audition and it will help you focus on the panel when you enter.

Speak clearly, articulately, and at a decent volume – both your name and the piece you will sing.

Audition Attire

This varies from place to place – and country to country. In the US, we are more formal and require women to dress with street length dresses or skirts – not above the knee. If you are singing specifically for a pants role, you may wear nice pants and a blouse or suit jacket. Also nothing too revealing. Appropriate shoes, meaning not so high that they look dangerous. Not too much jewelry. Basically, nothing that will draw attention away from your face. Colors are appropriate, but nothing wild – again that it draws attention away from your face and voice. Many agents in the US have advised women to wear darker colors on the bottom and lighter colors toward the top, again to draw attention to your face.

For men we usually like a suit with colored shirt and tie. But again not such a wild color that it distracts the listener from your voice. Be sure your shoes match and are not too casual. You may also wear a turtleneck or t-shit with a sports coat as long as it looks professional. In Europe, they tend to be a bit more casual, and I’ve seen men audition with a nice T-shirt and jacket and casual shoes. It worked very well.

For men and women, hair out of the face!


Audition Repertoire and Presentation

Be prepared to sing anything they ask you. Don’t put anything on your list you are afraid to sing, and all of your pieces should be pieces you have already performed for other people. Your first piece must be something you can sing if you were awakened in the night and told you had to sing it now. You must feel totally confident. It must also be a piece that is not too long (unless the audition is for a specific role and the piece has to be long for that reason), and something that will make them want to hear a second piece.

Choose a nice balance of languages and periods for your audition rep. But just as with the resumé, don’t confuse them with such varied Fach repertoire that they won’t know what to do with you.

Video tape yourself singing your arias. Be sure that you are totally confident from the beginning. Audition panels usually know within the first few measures - or even notes - whether or not they like your voice. After that they want to be entertained. Connect to the character and the situation, demonstrating that you understand musically and dramatically what you are singing about. Work with a drama coach and stage your arias. Be sure that the audition isn’t the first time you try to act with the aria!

Never sing sick! Never! It’s always disappointing to come down with an illness just before an audition. But you will never sing your best and you’ll waste everyone’s time if you do sing. There are companies who will put a note on your resume that they don’t wish to hear you again. So you’re doing yourself a disservice by going ahead with it if you’re not well.

Bring your own accompanist if possible. With opera companies this is usually impossible, but whenever it works out, do use your own.

Be sure you are ready to be singing for the company or program you are auditioning for. Do some research on the company, look at their website and see what they do, who sings there, and then be honest with yourself. If you are not ready, wait until you are.

Set specific goals for the audition. With each audition, try to convince yourself that success doesn’t depend on getting the job. This will read on your face like a book! Instead, set short-term specific goals for each audition – goals you can achieve if you work hard and concentrate. You will be surprised at how much more at ease you are when you’re not focused on the job, and this puts your panel at ease as well.

If you are stopped during an aria, stay cool. It can mean either they love you and don’t need to hear more, or they really don’t love you and don’t need to hear more. Either way, stay cool, professional, and pleasant.

At the end of your audition, always thank those who have heard you. Be polite, never arrogant.

Always put 100% into what you are doing. You never know what might come back to you months or even years later –either positively or negatively – from someone who heard you at any particular time. No audition is unimportant and no contact is unimportant.


©2022 Deborah Raymond, Flagstaff Arizona

“Be prepared to sing anything
“Choose repertoire that is well

Deborah Raymond

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