Friday, November 11, 2005

New York Day 4

Wolf Trap in New York dinner

L-R: Audrey Babcock, Liora Maurer, Heather Gilles, Lisa Ostrich, Kate Lindsey, Sarah Meyers, Javier Abreu, Anna Christy, Alex Tall, Dimitri Pittas, Kate Mangiameli, Jen Aylmer, Keith Phares

Report from the Road

There are trends – maybe even fads – in the choice of audition arias. It seems that there are always a few pieces that crop up again and again. The strange thing about this year is that we seem to be hearing the widest variety of arias ever. We’ve heard about 300 arias so far, and fewer than 30 of them were duplicates. (This is anecdotal, based on a quick summary. If I have time later in the month, waiting for some delayed airplane or something, I’ll do hard cold statistics. Unnecessary, I know, but completely irresistible in a weird way.)

Remember the rash of cancellations on Monday? Well, we’ve only had one person cancel since. It all evens out. These days we’re scrambling to stay on schedule.

More and more singers are coming into the room saying that they’re reading this. I'm both encouraged and a little freaked out by that. Please remember that while I occasionally slip into humor, it’s never meant to be malicious. I tend to speak frankly because I find that the cult-like secrecy that often surrounds our business rarely serves us or the music well.

Shop Talk

Pianists. I know that it’s comforting to bring an accompanist who knows you and who knows your repertoire. But please don’t bring someone who does you a disservice. It happened a few times this week. Both my colleague and I are coaches, and we know when a singer is struggling to drag his or her pianist up to tempo. (Or fighting to slow down a runaway train.) The majority of singers who bring accompanists do not fall into this category, but sadly, the singers who do make this mistake are often the very ones who can ill afford a liability like that.

New Arias. Neither of these are brand new, but they’re certainly uncommon.

  • Mezzo – “Waiting” from Harbison’s Great Gatsby. A chance to dig into a character piece and indulge in some juicy singing, too.
  • Soprano – “Love Me Big” from Bolcom’s McTeague. You have to be the right kind of singer (it takes some good “steel” in the voice, and great force of personality), but it’s a fabulous sing.
  • Soprano – “You’ve Never Seen the Winter Here” from Hoiby’s A Month in the Country. Light lyric soprano. Only about 2 minutes long.


No theatre- or concert-going tonight. It’s time for our annual Wolf Trap in New York dinner. 17 singers and staff from previous seasons, vintage 1996 through 2005! Photo at top.

Parting Words

Words I try to live by as a sometime pianist. Applies to singing, too, of course. “Anything you can imagine clearly, you can play. That’s the great secret.” (Body and Soul – Frank Conroy) The catch is that truly imagining is not an easy thing to do.

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