I’m not necessarily the best person to ask about this, but this is the information I’ve compiled from sources…. It seems that many theaters audition pretty much around the whole year, except for the summer months and around Christmas. It also seems that doing an «audition tour» in Europe is only worthwhile if you have done a lot of preparation about six months in advance — to write, call and try and get the auditions, if you have a base in Europe to spring from, and if you spend at least two months doing it. Most people looking for a fest contract in the German-speaking countries say six months to a year is actually more realistic. Most theaters don’t set up their auditions up far in advance, since it depends on the stage time, as well. So be ready to have people hem and haw about it for a few months, and then call to ask if you can come next week or the next few days…. Be ready to roll with the punches, and also to SAY NO or CANCEL AN AUDITION if you do not feel well or are sick. People may forget that you missed an audition, but they will not forget your AWFUL audition that you thought you could just grunt your way through and be fine. Being sick is a fine excuse to miss an audition, and they can’t argue with it and say «well, come anyway and see what comes out.» As my father says (wise man!) «YOU CAN ONLY MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION ONCE.» Take his word for it.
Hope it helps.
Starting points in Europe:
Write to German, Austrian, Swiss, Spanish, French, (Monte Carlo),Belgian, and Italian agents/opera companies
Format: your return address at the top, the address under it, the date,
The letter should say:
- You are a singer in XXX fach
- You’ll be in Europe for XXX time period
- You would like to audition for them
- Please contact you at your return address (above)
- You will contact them again once you’re in Europe; if you have a friend in Europe who has a fax, and can be an «accomplice» in your auditions, give this address and phone/fax.
- Include resume and photo — not necessarily 8 x10; in Europe they tend to use 5 x 7 for some reason, and less «Glamour shot,» more real «I’m a serious artist» type photo
MAKE YOURSELF AN AUDITION ORGANIZER BOOKLET:
First, make an address list of the opera houses you’re sending materials to;
Probably a good idea to keep them organized by country, with one address per page — you’ll have lots of other information to write about each one;
Once you have mailed all your materials you are going to want to keep track of:
- who you mailed to and when
- Mark if they responded at all, and if they responded yes or no. Might be helpful to staple their response letter to their page in your notebook
- when your auditions are or were
- who you sang for — (find out exactly the people who are in the hall, and WRITE DOWN THEIR NAMES! If it’s a house pianist, ask him/her who’s listening to the audition, how you spell it, and write it down right away. If you can, find out what their official duty or title is in the opera house. This will help you because you’ll be wanting to write these people afterwards. ALWAYS be nice to the pianist, no matter how horrible — he/she is most likely on staff there, and may have some input on what he/she thought of the singer!)
- what you sang
- how the auditions went
- your comments on the agent or opera house
- what you wore for the audition — you may have limited number of «audition dresses» and you don’t want to always show up for the same people in the same dress!
While you are in Europe you might want to audition for some international competitions, so, look through Opera America, etc… for lists of International Competitions and see which ones are around the time you’re expecting to go. It might be a good idea to do pages in your booklet on each competition, too, like opera houses and agents. Send each one a fax or email, with the dates you will be in Europe, your return address in Europe and the U.S., and request an application and/or information about the competition. You should fax/email as soon as possible, as many competitions are very strict about the deadline, and many of them are way in advance. If the deadline is past, it never hurts to call them and see if you can still join in. Then, you must wait for the application: check out the repertoire requirements, age limits, and prize money. Don’t think that if they say «$50,000 in prizes» that means that the grand prize is huge. It could mean that there are a ton of $500 prizes, and grand prize is only $2,000. Look at what the grand prize is (always hope to win THAT one!) before deciding to spend your money on hotels, pianists, and train fare, etc. Sometimes even the grand prize isn’t worth your time and expenditure. Don’t think that every competition carries that much prestige, or is going to miraculously start your career…. I won the Silver Prize in the Tchaikovsky Competition, and it didn’t do anything for me! It was a fun trip to Moscow, though. I got more mileage out of winning the Operetta Prize in the Belvedere Competition even though it was a less prestigious prize, since more people from all over were in Vienna, and we did a little «winners’ concert tour.»
MULTIPLE CASTING DIRECTORS ON JURIES OF COMPETITIONS
CHECK OUT THE JURY OF INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIONS — you may be able to audition for 3 or 4 casting directors in one fell swoop by taking part in a competition. See who is on the jury, and plan your attack accordingly!
WHEN TO MAIL
If preparing for the fall audition season:
You should mail your materials to Europe by August or September at the latest, or April or May at the earliest.
If preparing for the Spring audition season:
You should mail your materials by January or February, and by March at the latest.