Friday, October 30, 2009

Expert Friday: Tips from Texas

On our final expert Friday, some combined advice from Kathleen Kelly and Laura Canning of the Houston Grand Opera Studio:

Don't Second-Guess!

We like hearing you sing; we know auditioning is hard and we want you to do well. Don't try to second guess what I want you to sing, or wear, or say. Just be true to yourself. Every panel wants something different- every MEMBER of every panel wants something different!

Your Aria List

Make sure you choose your starting piece carefully. Don't choose something long just because you think you're only going get to sing one aria - that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Know how to get from your first piece to every other item on your list. Don't presume you know what the panel are going to ask for second. Do provide contrast, as otherwise why would we choose a second aria? If on the day you don't feel up to your stretch piece, take it off your list.


Send music / repertoire info in advance if it's not standard, especially if you're planning to start with that aria. Take 20 seconds to talk to your pianist before you start. Make sure you sing at your tempo, not his or hers. Don't take your own pianist unless you're sure they're better than the one provided!


Don't presume there is somewhere to warm up / change at the venue without checking. If you're running late, phone!

Have an Opinion

Have an opinion; have many opinions, and bring them to the table. Nothing is deadlier than music managed rather than lived, performance designed not to offend. Avoid asking for permission in the moment of performance. Sometimes I feel like auditioners are painting themselves white, like apartments that could be rented by anyone. Believe that we truly want to know who you are.

In the service of the above - work religiously and scrupulously to inform yourself of everything, from how Italian vowels sound, to where the orchestra can and can't allow you to take time, to the areas in which your own voice and body are most and least capable. That work will last the rest of your life, so it won't be finished when you audition - but we can tell if you are doing it or not.

And finally, I just ran across this terrific audition advice blog from Bill Florescu of Florentine Opera Company: The Opera Audition.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Your Audition Partner at the Piano

First, a list from a few seasons ago, when my colleague Thomas Lausmann sat on the audition panel with me:

What Makes a Fabulous Audition Pianist?

  • Listening. The ability to put the playing in subconscious mode and use most of the conscious mind to take in all of the details of the performance and become a split-second collaborator for singers the pianist has never met.
  • Flexibility. Turning on a dime to respond to the unexpected – a mis-timed entrance, a sudden change in tempo, an ill-marked cut in the printed music, a book (or, perish the thought, a stray piece of loose music) that won’t stay on the rack.
  • ESP. The ability to know sometimes a singer grinds to a halt not because he wants to, but because he can’t help himself. The pianist must gently prod the tempo. The ability to know that a singer’s desired tempo is predicated on the length of phrase she can sustain or the very specific speed that the coloratura must move in that particular voice.
  • Tolerance. Auditioners are a nervous lot. Normally sane, pleasant people can become pretty tightly wound in the audition room. Face it – the pianist is physically closer to the singer than any of us, and some of that wears off.
  • Musicality. We notice this and are thankful for it almost hourly. Singers feel it in their bones even if they don’t acknowledge it consciously. A well-shaped phrase, an interlude or prelude that actually encourages the singer to join in the music-making – that’s what it’s all about.

Your Responsibility

We realize that the audition pianist is a variable that changes from company to company, from day to day, from location to location. Safest to let go of whatever expectation you may have. Control the variables you can. The pianist is not one of them. So, best to think slightly conservatively.

If you're kind of new at this audition stuff, you don't need a lot of curves thrown at you. Bring a pianist (preferably a good one, please...) if some of your rep is non-standard. But be sure that your pianist can play your rep better than a typical company-provided pianist. I've seen too many singers undone by their own colleagues.

If you're getting a bit more experienced and comfortable, you can always take a chance, though. Here's the most important thing: Be able to sing your aria without getting rattled even if the piano isn't helping you. Give your aria to a pianist friend who isn't good at sight-reading. See if you can prevail while s/he accompanies you. It is possible. We recognize when there is a singer/pianist problem, and generally, unless you allow it to hamstring you, it doesn't end up being a huge liability. It's a sliding scale, to be sure.

Don’t snap your fingers at the pianist to indicate tempo. Aside from being slightly irritating (don't ask me why, it just is... I've been on the receiving end myself), it's rarely functional. I have yet to see a singer indicate a tempo (by clapping, snapping, conducting, etc) that bears a real resemblance to the actual speed of the aria.

Take a look back at this post in Week 3 for practical considerations when prepping your music for the audition pianist.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Audition Room Protocol

Don't spend a lot of time obsessing about how to relate to the audition panel. Auditions aren't cocktail parties, and other than avoiding the appearance of being extraordinarily grumpy and crank, there's not a lot to worry about.


First of all, there's no reason to walk to the opposite end of the room to shake hands. I know panel members who are firmly against this and others who are mildly irritated by it. Almost no one thinks it's a great idea, and it's almost never not awkward. I have no strong opinion, but these kinds of formalities do slow things down terribly. You get a limited amount of time allotted, and you want to use it to sing, not to work the room.

If the panel is paying attention when you enter, it's perfectly appropriate to greet us with "Good afternoon" etc. We try to greet everyone before they have a chance to wonder what to say/do, but sometimes we get caught up in paperwork. The niceties aren't compulsory, though - it's just fine to say nary a word, give your music to the pianist, position yourself by the piano, and then speak.


Most of the time, the panel has your materials. If you need to submit a rep list change (where allowed), often the monitor can handle it. If not, deliver it to the panel with a smile, then get right to the main event.


It is always helpful for the panel to hear your name. If our system is working well, we'll know who you are; but sometimes things get out of sequence and we get confused. "Good afternoon. My name is Kim Witman" should do it.

If you know for sure that you are to choose your own first selection, announce it. But don't over-announce it. "I'd like to sing Aria Name" should be plenty. If it's a rare piece, then expand into "I'd like to sing Aria Name from Opera Name." But no need to turn it into an exercise in public speaking (as in "I'd like to sing Aria Name, Character's third act aria in Opera Name by Composer Name). We either have a rep list, and/or we're smart enough to fill in most of those blanks if we know the name of the aria. You'll probably just end up getting tongue-tied even if you've practiced it to within an inch of its life.


Be efficient and pleasant. Then sing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Audition Room Acoustics

The annual search for decent audition spaces in various cities across the country is a huge challenge. Some of the spaces we use are typical opera house rehearsal halls, and we're all familiar with how they feel, look, and sound. But occasionally we end up in a space at one of the two extremes of the acoustic spectrum.

1. The Bathroom/Stairwell Acoustic

Singers initially love the fact that everyone sounds huge in such a space. But quickly, some grapple with the fact that once the sound gets rolling around, it's very difficult to zero in on pitch. Simply, hard to hear. What’s surprising is that a live acoustic actually picks up and magnifies certain troublesome aspects of certain kinds of voices.

For us, this kind of environment is the aural equivalent of squinting for 2 days, trying to zero in on the core of the sound and ignore the noise around it. All of the upper partials are exaggerated, and although this can flatter the occasional muted, dark voice, anyone with any natural squillo in the sound can peel the paper off the walls.

2. Singing Into a Sock

If forced into either end of the spectrum, this is what we often choose. And I'm here to try to convince you that you actually have a better chance in this kind of environment. For in a dry acoustic, we know that we have to mentally add a certain amount of bloom and resonance to everyone's sound, and that tends to make us charitable. (As opposed to the hyper-live acoustic, where the mental exercise is one of subtraction.) We actually tend to deliberately overlook (or minimize) some things because we know how naked the sound is.

But singers have to have the technical foundation and discipline to resist the urge to push and drive the voice because of a too-dry acoustic. The biggest mistake that inexperienced singers make is to react to dry acoustics by pushing for volume because they don’t hear much sound coming back at them.

Bottom line: Get experienced in and prepared for the entire range of possibilities. For this isn't just limited to audition spaces - there's a similar range of acoustics in the performance halls you'll experience. Work with your teacher to find ways to avoid focusing on the unreliable aural feedback and to depend on other, more technically secure ways to know that you're doing your best singing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Outside the Room

I'm easing back into work this week, feeling fairly disoriented for reasons good and bad. But today's topic is pretty straight-forward, so I'm in luck.

We get a lot of questions about protocol inside the audition room, and we'll take a look at this topic later this week. For now, though, spare a moment to think about what happens outside that audition room door.

Trash Talk

Singers don't overtly try to get inside each others' heads the way professional athletes do, but there are mind games outside the room. Most artists are fair-minded and collegial, but you will inevitably meet people in the waiting room who think it's in their best interest to undermine the confidence of the competition. Or perhaps it's not even that deliberate - it's possible that they're just trying desperately to boost their own confidence.

Whatever the reason, if a singer in the waiting area is spouting off in a way that intimidates or unnerves you, figure out a way to silence the noise immediately. If it's possible to leave his/her vicinity and wait in another area, do so. If you must stay there, tune into your iPod or your computer. Or engage yourself in quiet conversation of a positive or neutral nature with someone else. Do not let these strutting peacocks make you think any less of yourself.


Develop one. Don't leave any distracting details to chance.

Get the packing of your clothes and your music down to a science. Be sure you have worn your audition clothes (including shoes!) before and are supremely comfortable in them.

Don't be surprised to find no warm-up rooms. We all do our best, but in most cities, the spaces we rent simply don't have warm-up space available. Develop a strategy (singing in the car, humming in the elevator, whatever it takes), for although this scenario is unfortunate, it's not uncommon.

Give yourself as much time as possible to get there, and have a plan for what you will do with the extra waiting time you will have if you're lucky. (Don't use it to worry; be thoughtful about what will relax and prepare you, whether it's listening to music, reading, doing sudoku or stretching.)

And know what degree and kind of conversation you can indulge in without losing your focus. Chit-chatting calms some folks and enervates others.

You Never Know Who's Listening

Please, whatever you do or say should play itself out as if the panel themselves were out there in the waiting room with you. Because very often, the innocuous-looking person who checks you in is closely affiliated with the company for which you're about to sing.

If you distinguish yourself in a negative way in that environment, don't be surprised if your shenanigans become part of the break-time conversation with the panel. We're not needlessly gossiping, nor are we putting you through some sort of test. But if we're considering working with you for a production or a season, it's reasonable that we would be interested in your general level of integrity and professionalism - even when you think no one is looking.

Friday, October 16, 2009


It's a good thing I'm not getting graded on the audition season mini-course, for I've fallen off the wagon in a big way this week. It was delusional to believe that we could process and review 1,000 audition applications and keep up with the blog at the same time.

In spite of (and somewhat because of) this, I am taking time off next week. I will be off the email/phone grid for the first time in several years, taking my first vacation since 2006 that isn't combined with a playing gig. (Just imagine the extra room in the suitcase without the music notebook and the black dress!) I will be back the week of October 26 to finish up the audition series posts, then on the road for just under 500 auditions starting the week of November. See you soon!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Counting Down

Just a reminder that if you're interested in applying for an audition in New York, Philadelphia, or Vienna, you have until 12midnight tonight (10/9/09) to do so.

Enjoy your weekend!

Expert Friday: Chicago

It's a good thing it's Expert Friday, because I have been rendered completely inarticulate by the last 50 hours of application processing. Can't even hold a simple phone conversation. Have no English.

David Holloway is the Director of the Apprentice Singers Program for Santa Fe Opera and Head of the Voice Department at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He offers this description of how the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Programs helps its singers prepare for auditions:

I work with the Santa Fe Opera apprentices on the MainStage Auditions that they all do every summer for representatives of opera companies and managements, helping them find their unique “voice” that will hopefully give each of them an edge, but at the same time, help make the entire group look “special.” This past August so many people told me afterward how wonderful the singers did in their auditions and talked about how much that auditions situation has improved over the last few years. But that improvement hasn’t happened without a large measure of intention on our parts.

The coaches play an important role, of course, and we asked stage director Kristine McIntyre to work with each of them individually, helping them express the character of the person who sings the aria. We didn’t want them “staged,” but just to express the essence of that unique situation in the opera in their 5 minutes on stage. In some cases it involved minimal movement, in most cases it could be handled within that magic circle near the crook of the piano. Most of the time we are not trying to create stage animals, but rather, performers who seem to be able to find that still, small center, be themselves, stay simple, and show the intention of a character.

We also do mock auditions the week before these auditions where they can show what they have been practicing, and we ask them to dress as if they were doing it so that we can get a sense of what they will do. We took long enough after each audition to speak briefly with the singers, mostly acknowledging anything positive we saw, and in a few cases suggesting what we thought they might do even better. In a few cases we suggested that a change in aria might be in order. Our intention is to help them differentiate themselves one from another. At the same time, we encourage them to support their colleagues in any way they can, to help them deal with their own nervousness and anxiety.

I recently had a brief discussion with Gianna Rolandi, Director of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. On the topic of audition attire and appearance, she noted that hair obscuring a singer's face is a huge liability. We also agree that forcing a too-familiar and hyper-friendly approach to the panel is a bad idea. It comes of nervousness, I know, but it's probably best to adopt a relaxed professional demeanor. And Gianna reminds us that it's not a great idea to shake hands with the panel before or after the audition. (Especially during flu and cold season!)

And finally, for thoughts on auditions from Chicago Opera Theater's General Director Brian Dickie, check out this entry on his terrific blog.

Week 5 will start on Tuesday, for I'll be spending Columbus Day at home cranking through the New York audition site applications that are coming in today. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Audition Props?

Now that that's settled...

FINAL DEADLINE for audition applications for summer 2010 is this Friday, October 9 at midnight.
Start here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Don't Pace & Don't Land the Plane

What does your audition aria look like from behind the table? Singers worry endlessly about the extent to which they can move in an audition situation.

Should You "Block" Your Aria?

Well strictly speaking, no. You shouldn't perform your audition in the same way you would approach a staged performance. But the exercise of staging your scene has potential to teach you things about it from which you will benefit even when you're standing in one place. So go ahead and play with it - work with a directing coach, explore some options yourself. Then figure out how to make it seem as vivid without traveling all over the room, without furniture, and without props.

One Step Left, One Step Right...

Please don't pace. I know how hard it is. I don't sing, but when I give lectures, I have an extremely hard time keeping the pacing down to a low roar. It's extraordinarily difficult to turn off the auto-pilot and stand in one place. But learning how to do it is worth its weight in gold.

That doesn't mean you can never take a step. If your gestures and movements are purposeful (as opposed to random and/or nervous) and completely integrated with the music and the character in both in quantity and quality, then by all means, take a few steps now and then. Change your focus. But don't pace. If you have any doubt, ask any unbiased observer to tell you whether or not you are pacing. Or make a video and watch it with the sound off and the action speeded up.

Thre's absolutely nothing wrong with operating within a small area if it's done well, But until you can skillfully incorporate purposeful changes of location into your audition, best to stay put.

(Corollaries: Whatever you do, don't stray so far that your pianist loses contact with you. And don't get closer and closer to the audition table - it's a little creepy and it's dysfunctional, for we need to hear what you sound like from at least a few feet away.)


It's very difficult to talk about this out of context, but I think I can best contribute by describing the three types of movement that don't work.

1. Technical. Don't conduct yourself. Don't remind yourself about what you need to do in the passaggio by miming through it with your hands.

2. Random. If your arms look as if they belong to someone else, and their movements are not integrated in any way with what you're communicating, we have a problem. So often we see singers whose bodies seem to be completely disconnected from their voices. This is a larger issue, and one that should concern almost everyone. Take every opportunity to work with movement specialists, dancers, and anyone who can help you own your physical space and be comfortable in your own skin. This skill is difficult and surprisingly uncommon.

3. Semaphoric. In which you look as if you're landing an airplane, performing ASL for the hearing impaired, or playing charades. Relax. We don't want to straight-jacket you, but showing what the aria is about in your voice and face is always preferrable to having it mimed for us, and being simple and still can be extremely powerful.

The Spectrum

It's a sliding scale. I've seen plenty of kick-a** auditions that go much further in physicality than I would have advised, and I've seen other unsuccessful auditions that fall well within what we would consider normal limits. Just about the time I figure out where I stand, I change my mind because someone will give a totally successful audition by doing something I didn’t advocate.

Just be aware that if you make a bold choice, it will invariably be intriguing and exciting to some panels and off-putting to others. Believe in it, and be ready to take the credit and the blame.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Three Soapboxes

When I crafted the outline for this set of audition posts, I threw in a day called "Musical Preparation." Well, duh. That's sort of what you do most days every day. I know that, but I just want to call attention to a few specific vocal/musical issues, to make sure they are never overlooked or given short shrift.

First, and foremost:


I know that this is a difficult topic, and that it's never something that is scientifically conquerable. It's not as if we need everyone to sound as if they've been put through auto-tune. But get some really honest and reliable feedback from coaches, teachers, colleagues as to whether you are approaching your singing in a way that 1) allows you to center on a pitch and 2) allows that center to be in the right place.

I don't like haranguing, but this is a big deal. A teacher or a school can hear a developing voice with pitch issues, hear the many positives surrounding the problem, and put themselves behind that singer. Pitch problems are not a death sentence, just another challenging component of a technique. But we and many other YAPs and companies are listening to you for the purpose of putting you on a stage. That's what you want after all, right? And we can't put you there if you are a quarter tone flat all the time. Or sharp. Or a little of both. Or with a vibrato with amplitude so large that we don't know where the bullseye is.

Developing a technique is a process, and occasionally you may be in transition, or working through something that wreaks temporary havoc with tuning. But singers must realize that even if we appreciate everything else about your artistry - dramatic depth, musical instincts, exquisite phrasing, impeccable language - if you can't sing on pitch, we can't hire you. Frustrating for both of us.



Your coaches and teachers have told you. It has to mean something. It must be motivated, have intention, color, detail. We know that you know this. But we very rarely see it put into practice. It’s astonishing how easy it is to see the eyes glaze over, the face go blank, the arms and hands begin to clench. Don’t disappear on us. Trust me, I know how difficult it is. But most of these composers knew what they were doing. We’re not asking you to treat these challenging passages as if they were easy. They exist for musical and dramatic reasons. 1) Figure out exactly what those reasons are, 2) Merge the composer's intentions with your technique and approach to the coloratura, and (this is the hardest one) 3) Make it more than an intellectual exercise. It must, as they say, “read” all the way to the back row.

This isn't an irrelevant task that your coach is giving you; it's for real.

As is the next one:


Please be sure we can understand you, and even more importantly, know what you're singing about. Translate, paraphrase, reinvent, improvise - singers are given the tool of words for a reason. They need to seem as if they come from the very center of your being - from the same place the music lives. While you're singing them, they are yours and only yours. Own them.

We are in the claws of the database this week, with the goal of 60-80 applications and resumes a day. We're working through all of the paperwork for LA, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Houston. If you intend to apply for an audition in one of the remaining cities (New York, Philadelphia, Vienna) the deadline is this Friday, October 9 at midnight.

I'll see you tomorrow with a brief discussion on what your audition arias look like from the other end of the room.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Could We Hear the [Insert Name of Aria Here], Please?

Coming up this week in our Fall 2009 Audition Mini-Course:

  • Monday - The Second Aria
  • Tuesday - Musical Preparation
  • Wednesday - Physicalization
  • Thursday - Props
  • Expert Friday - Chicago-based colleagues weigh in

Do You Have Any Mozart?

Much of the time, you'll get to choose your first audition aria. Sometimes it'll be your only aria, but occasionally, you'll be lucky enough to get to sing two. Or three!

You've gotta love that brief yet amazingly angst-filled moment after you finish your first audition aria. Waiting for the panel to say "Thank you" (translated: "We don't need to hear another aria") or to ask for another selection.

We try to minimize the awkwardness by being ready to ask for your second piece in fairly short order after you finish your opener. (Often, we do this by conferring with each other about the 2nd aria choice via instant message on our computers. Look for a discussion of technology in the audition room next week.) Frankly, I'd rather you take the 15-30 seconds in between to gather your thoughts and prepare yourself, rather than spend it discussing amongst ourselves while you hang out in the front of the room trying not to appear as if you're listening to us argue.

It's one thing to be ready to fully invest yourself, dramatically and vocally, in the first aria of your choice upon which you can focus even before you enter the room. But giving up control and allowing the panel to choose the second piece from among your list of 4 or 5 requires a different skill set.

I only have one main piece of advice: Don't second-guess.

Given the chance, singers grill me endlessly about how we pick second arias. Yes, there is something of a system to it. If your first aria doesn't address very specific issues like coloratura, or legato, or specific language fluency, or extremes of range, we'll often gravitate toward a second aria that answers those questions. But often there are multiple ways to address those questions, and the choice is often less than scientific - sometimes even based on instinct.

No amount of deduction will reveal what you'll be asked for. So stay loose and find a way to look forward to singing whatever it is that gets picked.

I do have one more suggestion: Don't be visibly disappointed in the panel's pick (even if you are), and don't put anything on your list that you aren't completely willing and able to sing. You might be surprised to know that at least a dozen times a season, our request for the second piece is met with shaking of the head, muttering under the breath, exasperated sighing, and actual expressions of disbelief. ("I can't believe you picked that...")

And as I mentioned before, just be glad you won't be judged solely on your best 16 bars in a Broadway cattle call!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Expert Friday: Enjoy Yourself!

A few choice words of audition advice from Darren Keith Woods, General Director, Fort Worth Opera & Artistic Director, Seagle Music Colony. (And, it just so happens, an alumnus of the WTOC!)

The main piece of advice I would give to a young singer is to sing what they sing best and do not play to the repertoire. Learning an aria for an audition that you haven’t lived with for awhile can be treacherous. You will never sing it as well as something you have coached and worked out – musically and dramatically.

I also like the artist to give me a sense of the dramatic arch of the aria. Don’t just stand and sing – this is not a concert we are hiring you for, we need to see what you bring to the aria dramatically so that we can adequately judge the artist’s ability to put a character across on stage.

Lastly – enjoy yourself. Opera is an amazing, wonderful thing and we are all fortunate to make our livings this way. Perform, enjoy and show us your gifts! That’s all we want.

Enjoy your weekend! If you're applying for an audition spot in LA, Chicago, Cincinnati, or Houston, the deadline is midnight tonight!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What (Not) To Wear

Today's opera blog episode, in which KPW and Rahree channel Clinton Kelly and Stacy London. (Yeah, I had to ask who they were, too.)

Before we get to the fashion advice...


Tomorrow (Friday October 2) at midnight is the application deadline for an audition in LA, Chicago, Cincinnati or Houston. Please don't overwhelm the internet server at 11:59pm.

If you do apply and you have any doubt about whether or not your payment went through, send us an email before you hit "submit" multiple times. We'll write back and let you know if everything's OK. We don't want to have to process reimbursements for multiple payments. (Some folks believe that paying once is more than enough; paying twice is certainly not a good idea.)

Just like Tuesday's post about headshots, today's entry is highly unscientific. But it comes out of discussions with colleagues, conventional wisdom about audition attire, and from observing over 6,ooo singers in the audition room over the last 15 years.

(Demographic description of contributors: Rahree is a hip 30-something with fabulous taste in clothes. KPW is, uh, well, older than that, and tends to retreat into nondescript black things.)

General Guidelines

Be professional. Wear something that is the singer equivalent of what a 9-5 person would wear to a job interview. Or think about it as Sitzprobe clothes. Within the industry, there's a fairly widespread custom of wearing something polished for a Sitz rehearsal. That's the general category of clothing we're aiming for.

No formal wear. Leave the tuxes and the full-length evening gowns in their dry-cleaning bags. Same with sequins and other ├╝ber-glitzy options.

Color. Solid, vibrant colors are always welcome. Busy prints add a level of visual white noise that is somehow distracting. Few people make strong statements in washed-out pastels. And, although black is an always defensible choice, it's rarely memorable.

Confidence. Feel like a million bucks in your audition clothes. Don't wear something that someone else prescribes if you feel you're apologizing for your appearance in any way. You and your friends/teacher/circle should agree that you look terrific - there is an intersection, and you can find it.

Comfort. Be able to move. Nothing should constrict your freedom of movement, for both vocal/technical reasons, and for general ease and fluidity of motion.

Familiarity. Don't wear your new stuff for the first time in front of an important panel. Get to know it, so it isn't another variable on a stressful day.

Guys Only

You get to go first because you're easier.

Tie. Probably, but if you can look fabulously turned out with an open collar and jacket, we can be convinced. If you wear a tie, bold colors can work wonders. No cravats, please.

Jacket. Probably, but if you can look irresistible in a crisp shirt and tie, we won't complain.

Neither? You really shouldn't abandon both jacket and tie. Let's just say it's risky.

Hair. Out of your eyes. Usually more of a problem for the ladies, but if you sport some serious locks, make sure they're not obscuring your face.

Accent. Bold tie. Fun socks. An amazing suit. Colorful pocket square if you can bring it off. Helps us remember you.

OK, Ladies...

Foundation. It all starts here. Undergarments. If you have less than 10% body fat and we won't be distracted by jiggling lumps and bumps, then you're safe. Otherwise, be conservative. I don't really want to know that much about what's under your stretchy tight wrap dress, and I don't want to spend the aria wondering if your girls are going to fall out. And if you haven't watched your torso in a mirror during coloratura lately, perhaps it's time to see what we see. There are athletic aspects to your chosen craft, and you should dress for them.

Shoes. Be sure you can walk easily in them and support your singing. We don't really care about open vs. closed toes, but I guess some people do. And character shoes almost never come off well.

Pants are fine. Mezzos or sopranos. They should look classy, and they should fit you well.

Length. Above the knee is dicey, but not impossible. Just be sure you're not going to be singing on a stage well above the panel. (If you're not sure, don't chance it.) And don't delude yourself about whether or not you look good in a short(er) skirt.

Hair. Not in your face. Not overwhelming. Doesn't have to be "pulled back," it just has to not be the mane [sic:)] event.

Accessories. Be careful about shawls and scarves and other things that are not stabilized or otherwise affixed to your person. I don't want to be distracted by wondering how you're going to catch it next. But an accessory that sets you apart is a marvelous thing... an unusual cut to a dress, a vibrant touch of color, an interesting piece (pin, necklace) that doesn't overwhelm. It helps us remember you visually, and it adds energy and detail to your presence.

Come As You Are Tour 2009 !

Don’t worry about dressing up – you sing better in grubbies anyway, right?

If we hire you, chances are that we’ll make you wear something fairly crazy anyway, so looking your prettiest/most handsome isn’t really a selling point for us. (This will also keep Rahree from paying too much attention to your cute shoes and not enough to la voce.) Come as you are, and blow us out of the water with your amazing musical talents! And don’t forget to say “hi” on your way in. We’ll be the folks sitting behind the table…

…in our sweats.