Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Navigating Young Artist Programs

By Stacy Dove

It’s that time of year. You sit down with your laptop on a daily basis and scan the ever-growing list of audition notices, determining which ones you’d like to apply for and which ones can wait. There are many factors that determine your decision: their selected repertoire for the season, past audition successes or failures, how you and your team are feeling about your current repertoire and technique, your experience … the list goes on and on. The process can feel overwhelming, not to mention the fees you rack up with each application. How does a girl determine which programs she’s right for? Which programs are worth your $40 application fee? The programs with which you have a real shot for being heard?
  • Start with the Opera America Website. They have a great list of companies here: showing their Budget Level. If you’ve never worked professionally before, logic would say that you probably shouldn’t be applying for top tier companies like Wolf Trap, Merola or Florida Grand right out of the gate. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but you want to give yourself the best possible chance for success. 
  • Take a real look at your experience. Did you have the opportunity to perform multiple roles during your educational or past Young Artist experience? While there are some companies who are willing to help you build your resume, there are others who are looking for experience. Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically expect from those reviewing your application.
  • Ask your team. Your team can include your coach, your teacher, and your mentors. If you don’t have a team yet, you should gather one ASAP! The people you trust who know the business should have a good idea of what you’re ready for. Are you ready to sing Barbarina for the first time? Great. Have you covered bigger roles like Susanna or Mimì and are ready to take the plunge? Maybe you’ve even sung these roles in school or for smaller YAPs. Great! The answers to these questions should all help guide you to the right path.
  • Sit down with your budget. Audition season is expensive y’all. As much as we would love to, most of us don’t have an unlimited budget for applications, travel, accommodations, food, and everything else that we need to plan for during the process. Decide how many auditions you can realistically plan for this year and stick to that. If you need to, keep a few applications on the back burner until you hear from your top choice companies. 
  • Take a deep breath. It’s all going to be just fine. Audition season, like this career, is a great adventure. Try to remember that it’s not each stop along the way that matters, it’s the journey. Buckle up – this could be the greatest adventure of your life!

Photo Credit Shannon Langman Photography |
Model: Laura Watkins, Mezzo-Soprano