Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Reality of Typecasting

Have you ever thought about the fact that we live in a world where men and women are supposedly equal? However, we are still striving towards having more equal rights. We are still faced with men making decisions for us. But have you ever stopped to realize that we work in a business that is not only male-dominant, but also where, through no real fault of anyone, we are hired based off of a type?

What does this mean? Being a strong independent woman who sings, “I can do anything you can do better” as an everyday theme song, I’m horrified by the reality that I’m hired based on type. I mean we know people say this in theater sometimes, and movies are notorious for hiring the same actor or actress to do the same role over and over and over again, under the false pretense that it’s a “new movie.” But opera is obviously the worst offender here. Think about it. Your voice determines what roles you play. And with opera wanting to reach a broader audience, you now have to look like your voice (or the roles you play). Thankfully, this does not mean you have to be a size zero and never eat again. I like to think that opera is into having a real woman on stage. But it does mean that you have to be in shape and know how to dress your body well.

Knowing how to present yourself is key. Go to your closet and pull out your audition dress or dresses. Try them on and be picky with yourself.  Does this outfit show off your body to its highest potential?  You want something, that when you put it on, you know without a doubt you could wear this outfit everyday of your life, because it best represents your figure in the most flattering way.  If you are unsure, then ask an honest friend for their opinion.

Also, do your best to look like the arias you are presenting and the roles that you are auditioning for. Queen of the night can be a much stronger look than I would suggest for Juliet. Soften your look with gentle curls, or wear a lace dress. Are the characters you play extremely religious and conservative, or are they provocative? Be careful not to go over the top; you still want to be relatable to the people who are casting, but a subtle nod to the character’s personality is a plus.

Society and the media show us picture after picture that says we should look a certain way, so I would bet that most women have some kind of issue with some part of their body. What a shame. We also think that people judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves, which I can tell you is absolutely false. I look at all my friends, all shapes and sizes, and think they are beautiful, because they are. I’m sure you do too, so why can’t you look in the mirror and know that you are beautiful? Stop being so hard on yourself. That ends today!

Our minds are an interesting thing. We believe what we think.
For the next week we at Sexi Soprano challenge you to change your negative thoughts to positive ones. Pick a mantra, look in the mirror, and repeat it out loud to yourself. It may seem ridiculous at first to look yourself in the eyes and say, out loud, something positive about yourself that you don’t necessarily believe, but if you keep saying it, you will believe it.  We are what we think we are.

I will lose weight.
I can eat healthy.
I can exercise daily
I can learn a new language.
I will make more money singing.
I can learn this role.
I will apply for auditions.
I will get cast.
Opportunities will come.
My family does support me.
There are people who believe in me.
The people holding auditions want to cast me.
I will succeed.
I will get everything done.
I will stay healthy.
I will do my best, and everything will be fine.

In terms of being cast by type, aria selection is important.  The best “aria package” demonstrates your full range dramatically and vocally.  I recently replaced my comedic aria with a more lyrical contemporary piece; however, now I don’t have anything to show that I can actually be funny, and it’s one of my strengths!  This is not a good thing. My suggestion would be to list six arias or even seven. Don’t miss an opportunity to show what you do best, just because you’re trying to meet some strange requirement of five arias, one in each language.

So go out there this audition season and be the best version of yourself vocally and dramatically. I’m sure you’re bound to get some roles if you do!  Remember, even though opera is cast based on type, you are the type who can sing your roles!  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Image courtesy of graur codrin at