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Chautauqua Opera Set to Invade Odland, Giving Inside Look at Audition Process

Composer-in-Residence, Gilda Lyons, conducts Young Artists, Natalie Trumm, and Jordan Loyd during The Chautauqua Opera Company’s second Opera Invasion of the 2019 season on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 in Bestor Plaza.
MHARI SHAW/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As opera singers advance their careers, they constantly audition for shows and roles. At their side, a book helps them through — their audition book.

An audition book is a collection of songs they have rehearsed that best showcases their skills. When opera singers walk into an audition with their book in hand, they wait for the director to call out the repertoire they must perform in that moment.

Opera singers have to have a notebook of arias that they can sing with absolute refinement at the drop of a hat,” said Steven Osgood, Chautauqua Opera Company’s general and artistic director.

The audition process is more intense than audiences realize. At 6:15 p.m. Friday, July 12 in Odland Plaza, Young Artists will perform in the third Opera Invasion of the season, in which selections will be requested by the audience, much like an opera audition. The Young Artists who will be performing are soprano Lindsey Chinn, mezzo-soprano Timothi Williams and tenor Brian Jeffers, accompanied by pianist Emily Jarrell Urbanek.

The idea for this invasion sparked from the simple fact that opera singers, particularly freshly graduated singers, go through this audition process all the time.

That is a very unique experience — what it means to be an opera singer forging a career — and I realized that our audience had no clue about it,” Osgood said. “That’s why we created this Opera Invasion.”

In an audition, singers must be prepared for anything. Osgood said opera singers usually pick their first piece to sing. Then, the director will usually ask, “Do you have anything else?” The opera singer must continue through their audition book and sing the selections that the director chooses.

“The typical audition book is five arias that show a variety of different languages — something in French, Italian, German and English — and something contemporary and possibly something musical theater,” Osgood said.

During this Opera Invasion, the audience will choose from a list of songs the Young Artists have prepared. As the program progresses, Osgood will ask the audience the selections they would like performed.

“The audience is in control of where the concert goes,” Osgood said.

The Opera Invasion is intended to draw people lining up for Under the Streetlamp’s 8:15 p.m. performance in the Amphitheater.

Urbanek said this is important for people to understand how hard opera singers work to land a desired role in the field.

I don’t think people understand how the nuts and bolts of things work, and the process that singers have to go through in order to be considered for roles,” Urbanek said.
Tags : operaOpera InvasionThe Arts
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The author Tina Giuliano

Tina Giuliano is a rising junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix, where she studies broadcast journalism and Spanish. She serves as the multimedia managing editor at her school’s paper, The State Press. She is excited to begin covering opera for the Daily. When she’s not diving into her journalism career, she’s probably rewatching “The Office,” at a soccer game or figuring out which flavor of ice cream to eat.

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