Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Meet the Volunteers: Danielle Strauss on how to prepare for the big day


To get a true understanding of what it involves to get ready for the auditions, I sat down with the newest member on the MONC Eastern Region committee, Danielle Strauss.  Danielle is an opera singer who is currently living in New York City and who is working with young singers on everything from coaching music to coaching career strategies.  Her career highlights, among many others, have included the roles of Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Gilda in Rigoletto, Adina in L’Elisir D’Amore, Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte and Cunegonde in Candide.  This in Opera Houses in Europe, South America as well as the U.S. 

For many singers this is the first time they are participating in the Auditions, but even for our veteran singers some sound words of advice can be very helpful.  This does not mean you need to change your ways; as Danielle emphasized throughout our talk, "Respect your routines."  Meaning, have routines in place for a sense of security in a new surrounding and amidst the pressures of a big audition.

If you have a way of preparing mentally and emotionally for the day of the auditions, respect yourself and make sure you have the time and space to do what is necessary to create the best atmosphere for yourself.  Make sure you are focused on yourself and your music, but still have a good sense of the competition surrounding you.  Be ready to see plenty of other singers and wish them well, but remember you are there to do YOUR best, not to be concerned with who else is there and what they are singing.  

  • If you are coming in from out-of-town, know where you will be staying - check out the area for places to eat and where you are located in relation to the audition site.  Make sure you know how to get to Casa Italiana.  We will have more info on this topic in an upcoming post in the next week.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable but appropriate audition outfit.  If you will be walking to the audition site, wear a comfortable pair of shoes and bring your dress shoes in a bag.  Sore feet are terrible!  
  • An appropriate audition outfit is business elegant.  For the guys, we suggest a jacket and tie.  If you feel uncomfortable singing with a tie, leave it at home.  For the ladies, a dress is a great choice.  It does not have to be a long gown, but it can be a chic cocktail dress.     
  • Begin your day aware of the amount of time you need to dress, eat, warm up and make it to the audition site so you can avoid the stress of running late.
  • If possible, set up a rehearsal time with our accompanist once his name has been made available to you (at your own expense).  Otherwise, make sure you are singing music that will not be too difficult to coordinate the tempi and that is not too much out of the ordinary repertoire so you can be sure to sing as well as possible without creating a more stressful situation.
  • If you are not meeting our accompanist beforehand, please have your music ready for him in a three-ring binder, with pages that can be easily turned and with cuts that are clearly marked.  Take a moment to go over the tempi or anything important before you begin singing so he or she knows what you need.  Remember to BREATHE and be in the piece; find your character and do your best!

Here are a few other pieces of info which came up during our conversation on how to have a comfortable audition:

  • Make a note of your audition time and number, which will be given to you about a week before the auditions.  Don’t fret if something does not go as planned the day of the auditions.  Just give us a call and we will try to resolve the issue.  If you are feeling under the weather or can’t make it to the auditions for whatever (legitimately good) reason, just let us know and we will help you to either audition another day (if possible) or transfer your material to another District. 
  • If you are bringing your own pianist, make sure he arrives at the same time you do, which is preferably one hour before your scheduled audition time.  This will give you enough time to check in and warm up if still necessary.  If for some reason something goes wrong and your pianist can’t make it, you will be able to use our accompanist.
  • Of the five arias you submitted on your application, you will only be asked to perform two.  The first one is an aria of your choice, the second one will be picked by the judges.  Make sure you see each aria in the context of its whole. Know who your character is:  be aware of who he or she is singing to and why.  If the aria is in a different language, know the translation so you know what you are singing.  The judges have many factors they base their decision on, not in the least your musicianship, your voice, aria interpretation and stage presence.
  • If you like having friends and family around while auditioning, they are more than welcome to join you and watch you from the audience.  All auditions are open to the public, and we encourage everyone to get as many people involved as possible.