Monday, May 14, 2012


You know those days when you wake up and you *know* it's going to be a great day? It's audition day and all of the stars have aligned in your favor. You feel good. You look great.  You're not the least bit bothered by being violated by the government as you pass through airport security. Not even one flight was delayed. Even the flight attendant says "have a great day, hollywood" as you you deboard the plane.You land in a new city, hop in your rental car {which you scored for a mere $15} and think "I like this place!" You've found the perfect souvenir {I collect things from audition locations} in perhaps the most beautiful shopping "mall" you've ever seen in your life. It's going to be a great day!

You arrive at the audition location appropriately early, because that's how you roll. You warm up. Ahhh, the gods of singing have blessed you. Everything is in line and you sound great {if you do say so yourself}. You wait. They're running behind, but you don't mind. They're only hearing one aria, and you've already chosen which one to sing. The aria that always works. The one that everyone loves. It's your *thisistheariaIpulloutofmybackpocketbecauseIsingitwellevenwhenI'mnotsingingwell* aria.

When it's finally time, you walk into the room. The people you're singing for are friendly {thank you, gods!}. The music director says he loves the aria you're singing. You're wearing his favorite shade of blue. And he looks at your resume and says "what a great name!" *Yes* ... And then it happens. The pianist begins to play and it's clear that she's never seen the aria you're singing before in her life.

Now let me clarify - it's not like I'm singing some obscure piece of 20th century, atonal music that no one ever sings. And it's certainly not Stravinsky or some giant Straussian aria that audition pianists fear. It's "Steal Me, Sweet Thief." One of *the* most performed English arias for light lyric/lyric sopranos. We sing it all the time.

She really wants to play slowly so she can get *all* the notes. {why do audition pianists do this? don't they realize that this moment is not about how well they play?} No big deal, you think. Just stay with me and everything will be fine. Not to worry. Just keep up with me. But she doesn't. In fact, the more you try to push the tempo forward, the slower she insists on playing. So you have to take all of your emergency breaths ~ the ones you *never* take. And when you get to the glorious B in the middle of the aria she keeps slowing down until ... *motherfucker*

That didn't just happen. You did *not* make me breathe in the middle of a word. Never in my life have I ever had to breathe in the middle of a word in an audition. If I can't finish the aria well, I don't sing it in an audition. *whatjusthappenedwithmylife*

So you finish the aria. They thank you for singing and apologize that they're only hearing one aria today because they're running behind. You smile, say "of course. thank you for hearing me," and retrieve your binder from the pianist {who you wish you could kill with your laser-like vision, but instead you smile politely and again say "thank you."} But it's not over yet. There's a hole in the stage where your heel promptly becomes wedged and comes completely off of your foot. Mother.of.God. You retrieve your heel, laugh nervously and say "wow, there's a hole in the stage... hehe..." getmeoutofhere. And you can't slink out of the room fast enough.

Suddenly all of my mojo is gone. The line to return my rental car is miles long and I need to get back to the airport to catch a quick flight. Only to get there and find out it's delayed. And we won't even talk about the flock of giant basketball players who are on the last leg of my flight, sitting right next to me ... who start a fight with the guy in front of me. And continue to use their cell phones for the duration of the flight. Oh this plane is going to crash, I just know it. Sweetbabyjesusinamanger where did my fabulous day go?

So this leads to the question ... what can you do, if you can do anything, to recover from audition issues stemming from the accompanist they've selected for the audition? Is there, in fact, *anything* you can do without making yourself look like a total diva or excuse monger? Anyone?


  1. Fun blog post! Recovery is totally possible :-) Next time, ignore the pianist and sing it how you want to sing it, no matter where she is on the page. The auditioners will know whose problem it is. It's really frustrating, I know, but sadly not all coaches are created equal. Who knows, maybe she also felt like she was "auditioning" for the company.

    Sometimes in coachings I will intentionally do this to singers just so they get used to the feeling of being completely on their own (of course, I warn them first!). It feels awful for both of us, but does help prepare for situations like you just went through!

    Toi toi toi for your next audition!

  2. Thank you, Ellen! I never know whether I should just plow forward and leave the pianist in the wind, or keep some semblance of "ensemble." Next time, I'll soldier on. :)

  3. Of course you won't name the organization, but I have to wonder where you were that they couldn't supply a semi-decent coach accompanist or at very least a good sight reader.

  4. That was my feeling as well. I know they had another pianist playing earlier in the day because I overheard someone saying "I'm so glad I sang before {pianist X} left" so I knew it might be rocky, but I didn't expect what I ended up with. My biggest issue with the audition was that I paid an audition fee ~ I always assume that this means there will be a capable pianist available at the audition, but clearly that's not always the case.

  5. Stacy, I'm so sorry to hear this about your audition! I am a coach/ accompanist, and I know how this works :) I agree with Ellen; next time don't worry so much about the "semblance of ensemble" :) sing your tempo and rubato intentions. Our job as accompanists, is to hear what you guys are doing. One of my teachers told me: "the tempo is set between the first and the second note", and I think she's right. You need to show everyone you know how to take charge; you are the one singing (and breathing), so don't worry about us :)

    GOOD LUCK next time!!!

  6. I had the same thing happen and the worst part is I had to pay the accompanist that they provided!
    On a couple of other auditions I just stopped and said I'd sing a cappella, but that was for musical theatre.

    And I even got cast.