When trying out for roles and artist programs, opera singers have a collection of songs they use for auditions. Those make up an audition book.
Audition books are integral to a singer’s career, but even the most loyal opera fans may not know what an audition book is, said Steven Osgood, general and artistic director of Chautauqua Opera Company.
“The news to me, was to find that even among our most die-hard supporters, their awareness of what it means to be on the audition circuit was variable,” Osgood said.
Chautauquans will have the chance to experience this firsthand with Chautauqua Opera’s latest invasion, Opera Open Book, at 6:15 p.m. Friday, July 20, at Odland Plaza. The target audience for the invasion is the people lining up to get into the Amphitheater for Straight No Chaser’s performance. Opera Open Book features three of Chautauqua Opera’s Young Artists: mezzo-soprano Quinn Middleman, tenor Sidney Ragland and soprano Natalie Trumm.
The first question Osgood usually asks singers in auditions is, “What would you like to start with?” That person must have the song ready and be prepared to sing something else from their repertoire when asked. The more diverse the arias are, the better.
“In their audition book, they have to have these arias that, through the five of them, cover many different languages — at least French, Italian, German and English — (and) styles and sometimes going as far as to have something from musical theater,” Osgood said.
The audience will randomly pick both the music and the performer during the invasion, which simulates the audition process. Oftentimes, one of the songs will be something the artist used to audition for Chautauqua Opera, and Osgood will share those stories as the invasion progresses.
“The fun of not knowing the order is something the audience gets and enjoys — the spontaneity of the singers and the amount of audience interaction.”
-Steven Osgood, General and artistic director, Chautauqua Opera Company