Sunday, May 04, 2008

Professional-level Singing and That Certain Je ne sais quoi

Coaches who work with singers in preparation for agent, conductor, and company auditions often pursue a much more elusive goal than those who prepare singers for recitals and university auditions. I've talked to numerous coaches who have stated that they have very little idea what actually gets singers hired at the professional level. An article by Valerie Scher in the San Diego Union-Tribune looks at the casting process of Ian Campbell, artistic director of the San Diego Opera. Campbell assembles file cards that contain information on numerous singers he has heard and hired over the years, and states about what he has noticed:

You'll find lots of names that amounted to nothing. Then, there are others who really took off. Still others are singers who don't have the kind of sound I'm after but have good careers.

One benchmark that he uses in hiring:

Company directors are looking for a sound they like or that works for them in a particular group of singers, when the blend is very important.

What do you consider important traits in the singer's art that are important at the professional level, musical or otherwise? Feel free to leave comments below.


  1. From Maureen Forrester: "They like me because I show up on time, know my part and I am cheerful." That, I find, is most of the battle. There are a bazillion singers out there, (granted most of them are sopranos,) but the ones that people seem to want to work with are the ones that can just follow those three little rules.

  2. You're right, Gerrit. However, getting one's foot in the door in the first place seems to be the greater challenge these days.