Monday, December 5, 2011

New York Auditions

I love New York.  It seams like everything works the way that I work. Painfully fast, crowded with busyness, professional but panicked, and yes - without much sleep.  In many ways I am perfectly comfortable with the Big Apple, however it certainly has no limit to stress.

Audition season is upon me, and I prepare to peak at just the right time.  This year, I went out on a limb and flew in on the day of my first audition.  I have never done that before (and have been warned against doing that) but I just couldn't devote too much time away from Kansas City.  On the morning that I flew out, I was greeted by one of my good tenor friends from KC, Ben Gulley, in the waiting area at the airport.  Amazingly, we were taking the same flight to New York.  Ben is one of the best tenors I have ever met, and certainly a great person altogether.  He talked about his upcoming events and plans with Hollywood agents and opera companies from all over the world, etc. etc.  I sounds amazing and it couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

After I arrived in New York, I took a shuttle from LaGuardia to Grand Central Station and ate lunch there.  Then it was off to Nola studios - opera audition Mecca.  Nola is on the 11th floor of a building off of Broadway by David Letterman's studio, kind of close to Julliard and the Met.  It was packed, muggy, and stinky.  It is only a small hallway with seven or so studios connected to it.  Each of the studios have a different company holding auditions with 5-10 minute slots.  So all the upcoming singers sit patiently, cold-sweating outside the doors.   For me, all of my auditions were here or in Shelter studios, which is the next floor up.  Luckily, I had my auditions all back-to-back: New Jersey, Pine Mountain, and Saratoga.  Opera North auditions were the following day.

Once the auditions began, it was kind of a blur.  I didn't have to think about much, other than selected arias, and in the meantime, I was able to talk to all of my opera friends from around the country who were in town. Everything went fine...normal, except for New Jersey.  In the New Jersey auditions, they wanted me to sing Il mio tesoro as my second selection, and it was a little dull.  One of my better qualities is my resonance, or the sparkly clean tenor ring, but that was lost for some reason in that aria in particular.  Besides that, I always begin with Questa o quella from Rigoletto, not because I like it, but because it is short and powerful - I only have a few minutes to show off you know.  Then the company selects any other excerpts that they want me to hear.  Normally, this means an English aria, and for me that means Here I Stand from The Rake's Progress.

I will be anxious to hear from those companies in the coming weeks and I'll let you know what the results are. In general, this year there are many more companies out there than in the past, which is a great sign that the economy is improving.  However, companies are inviting many more singers...this means more competition.

Outside of auditions, I was able to attend the Met's production of Handel's opera Rodelinda.  The sets were great, and it starred one of my most favorite singers, Renee Fleming.  Unfortunately, I had to miss the end in order to catch my train out of Manhattan to get to my hotel.  But, the show was amazing.  Handel operas are packed with arias, one right after the other.  I thought it would make for a very boring time, but it turned out to be an amazing musical experience.  There were two starring countertenors (men who sing in their falsetto, their girly voice).  They lacked the beauty of Renee, who was brilliant and gorgeous, but the countertenors stole the show for me.  As the least technically advanced singers in the production, I was shocked and uncontrollably excited by their musicality.  It was stupendous!!  The audience was on the edge of their seats for many of their arias packed with tension and controlled tones, relaxing only for a moment.  Handel was amazing, and so was this cast.

Also, another favorite part of New York for me is the food.  Here were my two favorite meals:

Lamb Burger with Greek Salad and Humus Dressing along with TWO Chocolate Shakes at The Brooklyn Diner

Steak Sandwich (real unsliced steak) and Maple Bacon Bourbon Donut at Zaro's
Then, before I had to leave for my evening flight back to Kansas City, I had several hours to spare.  So, I went downtown.  Here is a video that I put together about my afternoon.  It's in HD if you click "full screen" and turn up the speakers!

The flight back was a crazy event in itself.  I was left on the runway on Frontier Airlines flight 1803 from 6:55 PM to 10:08 PM without food, bathroom, and electronic device use (which I violated).  It was horrific for the claustrophobic, and completely annoying for those who don't like to smell other people's feet.  In short, I am still trying to receive a refund for my flight.  The reason for the delay was that the pilot they selected wouldn't make his next scheduled flight, so we returned and waited for another pilot.  It was entirely the fault of Frontier Airlines and their mismanagement of their work schedules.  Nonetheless, we arrived in Kansas City early the next morning.

Next week, I will have a lot of information about the next KCVI Celebrity Auction, now featuring another autographed John Williams Star Wars score!  Also for my concert schedule please visit  I miss so many of my friends and family; maybe (as a Christmas present) I will see you at one of my concerts in the near future!

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