It’s time for me to brush up on repertoire for the district Met Auditions. That’s in just two months! Do I expect to win? I want to, but I don’t think it’s my time yet. Just as there are some songs on the radio I can’t bear to listen to (and I can’t see why they get so much air time), there have been competition results I don’t understand. But I do believe that the average of one’s accomplishments is a fairly accurate assessment of one’s skills. It’s impossible to please everyone, but it’s equally difficult to displease everyone. I’ve won in a few competitions (but not all), and I received offers from a few grad schools (but not all). Some days my voice feel great, and other days I worry that I’m putting too much pressure in my throat. Sometimes I have a handle on my middle voice, and sometimes it sounds fuzzy and feels fragile. C6 is almost never a problem, but D6 and E6 aren’t always solid. The average of all this suggests I’m good but not my best yet, and I think I would need to be at my best to advance to the regional Met Auditions. So with this high standard in mind, I am not ashamed to say I don’t think I’ll win the district round this year.
My aim for the district round is to put on a good show and make a splash in the Arizona scene. If Arizona’s district has encouragement awards like San Diego, I would be very happy to snag one of those or get an honorable mention. Given how competitive opera singers are and how intensely you must WANT this career, my goals for the Met Auditions may seem puny and weak. Go big or go home, all or nothing, aim for the moon and at least you’ll end up among the stars – okay, but these all seem like gambling statements. I’m not interested in betting on an uncertain outcome and hoping for the best; my approach is to work hard as hard as possible to ensure I feel good about the outcome.
I think small goals get a bad name because critics take it as a sign that you don’t even believe in yourself. I don’t want to get lazy or be lax, but it’s no good to be hit with disappointment and then have it turn to doubt. Since so much of singing well and performing well is mental, losing your confidence is a dangerous things. It’s a snowball that grows bigger and bigger, a stone that gathers no moss as it gains momentum tearing downhill. Setting manageable and doable goals is a form of self-preservation. Also, I think I’m pretty good at setting reasonable but challenging goals since I hit some but not others.
For those who may feel pressured to have flamboyant, dramatic, goals: let’s not dismiss the importance of effective goal-setting. Those big wow-factor goals are inspirational, but a functional plan of realistic and progressive goals is just as necessary. We need to keep both types of goals in mind every day, the big picture to help us stay on track and the day-to-day accomplishments that help us improve and keep us feeling good and thinking positively.
The Met Auditions require five arias, and here’s what I have in mind:
- “Oh! quante volte” from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Romantic, Italian, lots of drama and coloratura
- “Obeisson quand leur voix appelle” from Massenet’s Manon – Romantic, French, attention-loving and exciting
- “Deh, vieni, non tardar” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro – 18th century, Italian, middle voice, lots of legato line
- “Mein herr Marquis” from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus– Romantic, German, up-beat, humorous
- “I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung” from Adam’s Nixon in China – 20th century, English, lots of tritones, and plenty of G, A, B, and D’s
This set hits the four main languages and give a good mix of tempo, major/minor, style, and character. “Oh!quante volte” has been getting some workouts, but the rest need some attention. “Obeisson quand leur voix appelle” should be up and running in no time since it’s the aria I have the most experience performing; the trick is keeping it fresh despite all the repetition. “Deh, vieni, non tardar” is like a winter sweaters in the summer: comfortable but we haven’t hung out together lately. The last two will probably need some extra attention. “Mein herr Marquis” because I don’t remember the German and I wasn’t completely comfortable or satisfied with the physical characterization when I learned the piece last year. “I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung” because it is a stamina challenge and the vocal line is not really pretty (lots of repeated notes and outlining of chords, not much melody).
Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten about the list of new arias I want to learn! I have the music for “Un cenno leggiadretto,” I am working on “Quel guardo il cavaliere” and “Adieu, notre petite table,” and I am still looking for the right versions of “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” and “Che fiero momento.” Although I’d like to use some of these for the Met Audition, I think it’s smarter for me to stick with familiar repertoire. This way I can focus on polishing instead of stressing out. Once again, self-preservation! It’s a way of life.