Posted by: Dramamezzo | May 10, 2010

Respect Your Singers

There are 2 ways that an opera company can easily stand out from the rest in this area.

I bring this up as a thank you to the NEW North Carolina Opera.  I auditioned for them yesterday and it went fairly well.  Let’s face it there is always something you wanted to do differently and things you wished you had done better.  Overall it was acceptable.

Enough about me, the point is the North Carolina Opera auditions (ending on Wed. 5/12)  were done with 2 considerations that made them singer friendly.  Thank you North Carolina Opera.

1. The cost was $10 per audition (no application fee and you could send materials via email so no postal fees.)

2. They listed the roles that they were looking to fill.

The benefits of #1 are obvious.  We are already paying for headshots, sending out packages, travelling for auditions, lessons and coachings.  Spare us the high audition fees.  I understand covering costs for location and accompanist, but is it fair that the singers have to pay for your travel fees as well as their   own?  I understand that this is a complex question when considering making it easier for singers who live in NYC, major cities or close by to audition.  The problem is that these things have to be paid for ahead of time so they become application fees given before there is even a slot made for you.  This also does not  include your accompanist fee the day of the audition if you do get a slot.

#2 is just plain thoughtfulness.  A singer is usually not desperate enough to want to pay to audition for a season that you have already filled their roles for.  While they may audition just so you can hear them if it is in town with a nominal fee.  They won’t pay +/-$250 for a plain ticket and hotel if you already have someone in mind and are just seeing who shows up.  Plus not doing so makes singers question whether this is just another form of fundraising for your company.  Especially when you are charging $25 or more for ten minute audition slots 4+ times a year.  That is 6 singers an hour.  $150 an hour when auditions  can go as long as 8 hours or more.  The bigger problem:  these fees are usually paid when you send in your application, meaning you might not even get an audition slot.  So they make money without having to travel anywhere, rent any space or pay any accompanist.  We all know they aren’t paying their administrative staff THAT much.

Many companies recognize the detriment of weighing in on a system that overburdens the artist and prevents growth.  They take the money at the audition instead of having you pay for postal fees, application fees and accompanist fees.

We need more companies to recognize that less burdened singers make better singers.  Better singers make a better audience.

What do you wish opera companies were more aware of?

Would it draw more money for the opera companies if it was advertised that 5-10% of donations went to singer apprentice programs and audition costs?

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