ENO Casting Q&A session

With our final consultations looming, last Friday we met with Sophie Joyce (Casting and Harewood Artists Manager) for an informal approach on the ’do’s and don’ts’ of auditioning. Refreshingly, it was a very informal chat which provided us with useful insight from both sides of the coin. I’ve put together some of the main points, which I’m sure each singer could use as a healthy check-list to ensure that you emit the impression of being well put together.

What you can control

  • What you sing, and how you sing it
  • How you look
  • What time you arrive
  • How you present yourself AND your music!
  • Ensuring your CV is up to date, and you take a spare copy with you.

What & how you sing

  • Ensure what you are offering is something you’re confident you would be cast as now. Avoid repertoire that you think could show a role you may sing in 5 years time – trust that the casting department will know that certain roles will potentially lead to others. Focus on the now and show that you are sure of what fach you are, and what roles you are aiming for.
  • Your starter aria should be something you can sing with bells on, even if you’re not feeling at your best. Practise your auditions arias in succession, so you become used to one following the other: there is nothing worse than the starter aria being EPIC, and the second aria letting you down because you’re knackered and can’t make you way through another 4minutes of singing. This starter aria should be the same one you present 95% of the time.
  • If you don’t get a run through with the pianist, take 30 seconds just to establish correct tempo. Take control of the situation.

How you look

  • Hair off your face
  • No short skirts or anything too clingy – you don’t want to be drawing attention away from your singing.
  • Ladies – try to wear heels.
  • If possible, ensure that the cut of what you are wearing shows your general physique.
  • Ladies – no big, awkward earrings. The panel don’t want to sit there focussing on your jewellery, and last thing you want is to resemble this lady… !!

Small things which can make a difference

  • Practise introducing your arias. Nerves often get the better of us at the worst time – don’t be that person that forgets what they’re singing / who the composer is etc.
  • Knowing that you are fully prepared makes a big difference. For example, knowing that vocally and technically you would be ready to perform 12 shows provides you with the confidence to know that you have worked towards the correct stamina level to see you through.
  • If the panel are within walking distance to the door, shake their hand as you go in.
  • Regarding Chorus work – this is often a common way for emerging singers to gain experience and make contacts. If you don’t intend on remaining in the chorus, set yourself a 1-2 year plan.
  • Your CV is an insight into where you are currently in the industry. Keep it 1 page long. Don’t just accept work in order to fill up your CV. Sing things you want to sing, make contacts, and invite people to hear you sing. Networking is key.