I like to visualise every performance, including auditions, as it helps me to avoid some personal traps that I’ve fallen into. It can be challenging to put your best version across (vocally and physically) with a time limit, new spaces, and a pianist you’ve never met. Mental preparation is key. You have less than 10 mins, usually, to show what you are capable of.
Here’s what I do to make audition experiences as good as possible REGARDLESS of the thought put in by the company auditioning:
Know the music so well that it could be accompanied by 5 year olds. I am not slagging off pianists. They are often chucked in with no notice, varying degrees of sight-reading ability/experience of singer repertoire. If you know your music well enough to not be put off, then you stand more of a chance of making music.
Turn up at least an hour before the audition time – check ahead if at a theatre, as sometimes rehearsal time is offered with pianists hours before your slot.
Ask to see the running-order so you can guess-timate what time you will sing but DO NOT expect any audition day to run like clockwork. The order often gets altered greatly as everyone always has a train to catch, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you can’t switch with the Italian soprano who is down to sing 5 hours later.
Be determined to make music, and share yourself with your ‘audience’ of panellists. It is so easy to get distracted by thoughts of technique, analysing the faces (when visible) of your panel, or wondering why your right leg seems to be shorter than your left. If you are having to sing to people not very far away, and that are entirely visible to you, try and imagine they are friends of the family, and remember that very few audition panellists know what their faces do. They probably don’t realise that they are scowling.
Find your space: it can be an entire dressing room in some theatres but a corner or a chair in a shared space will do, where you can cut out everyone else and focus on what you are doing there. You want to show as many people as possible your interpretation of your aria. Do not compare your voice with the others you can hear warming up or auditioning ahead of you. A day of mezzos, all singing the same repertoire for a fest contract brought me about as close as I’ve come to walking out before singing BUT it was also my first audiiton on a main stage, so I told myself it was simply an opportunity for me to sing my audition repertoire on this awesome stage. I got a call-back.