We don’t require audio samples, but singers who don’t clearly meet or exceed our suggested profile are encouraged to considering submitting a demo CD. I treat the recordings in one of three ways:
- 1) If someone easily qualifies based on the paperwork, I don’t even listen to the recording (sorry…). There’s a danger that I would decide not to accept him or her for a live audition because of something I might hear. That would effectively penalize that singer for sending a CD. (Someone else with a similar profile who didn’t send a recording would get automatically passed through. Make sense?)
- 2) If a singer clearly doesn’t have the experience or training that we expect, but s/he has sent an unusually good CD, there’s a chance that s/he will get an audition.
- 3) If there are very few spots left for an audition site (we average about 30 singers/day), and there’s a group of applicants on the borderline, a good CD will make the difference. A bad one will have the opposite effect.
What do I listen for? Objective things: intonation, mastery of languages, the right notes at the right time. If a recording has a negative impact, it’s because the singing is not on pitch, the text is sloppy, or the piece is poorly or incompletely learned. One thing that’s really not discernable is vocal timbre or size. Some recordings seem to have been made in stairwells or large bathrooms (not really, but their very forgiving 5-second reverb makes it seem so), and some appear to have been made with a cheap microphone in a practice room.
Demo guidelines for singers:
- List your selections AND YOUR NAME on both the CD and the case. (Any kind of case is fine. I’m not that compulsive.)
- Check your CD – make sure it works! I always try a disc in at least 2 players to be sure. Already received 3 this year that won’t play.
- Listen to your recording as if you were an audition committee. Have someone else listen to it. It doesn’t have to be studio quality, but it shouldn’t distort wildly. (Got 4 of those so far.)
- Read the requirements. We ask for two arias, one in Italian. Got 6 recordings with no Italian aria.
- Write your name and selections neatly on the face of the CD. Don’t put those adhesive paper labels on the CD. Front-insert players won’t cough them up when trying to eject. I broke 2 CD players already this fall.