From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell

by Megan Meister

New York City Auditions, Day 1

I arrived in New York over the weekend and had auditions all day yesterday.  I heard 42 singers from 10:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, and the quality of singing ran the  gamut from excruciating to the sublime, with most of the singers falling somewhere in the middle.

No one sets out to be merely a competent singer, and it is always hard to hear so many capable but uninspired singers trying to pursue a career.  There were seven people who auditioned before the first really good singer showed up.  Then another group of three mediocre singers before a remarkable run of five really good singers, one right after the other.  I don’t have roles for all of them at the moment, but certainly some of them will show up on the stage of the Winspear Opera House, mostly in small, supporting parts, over the next several seasons.  I am currently casting through 2015.  The rest of these singers are merely filed away in my memory bank until something appropriate might come along.

Not all of these singers are unknown to me.   In fact, many of them have sung for me before.  It is great to hear how some have continued to improve, but it is always difficult when singers fall into bad vocal habits and their voices begin to deteriorate.

There is no point when a singer has finally “learned” to sing and can simply relax.  A singer’s instrument is their body which is always changing and adjustments constantly have to be made.  It could be a change in their health, a change in their weight,  or merely a change in the weather, but all these things impact the voice and a singers’ technique must be able to adjust to even the most minute physiological changes.

I have another marathon of auditions today, and then will go to the new production of FAUST tonight at the Metropolitan Opera.

It will be a long day, but I am sure that it will be rewarding.

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