Ah, November. The season of auditions and thankfulness. It seems like I am in New York auditioning more than I am home these days, but if you want the gigs, you have to do the auditions. I was back in the city yesterday for yet another one, but it didn’t go as well as I had hoped. In fact, there were a lot of signs and bad omens present that I maybe should have paid attention to, starting with the toilet I broke.
Look, I swear it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t mean to break my voice teacher’s toilet. He even said, 350 pound women have sat on that toilet with no problems, so I don’t know what I did wrong. I didn’t even sit on it! I was just in there changing into my audition clothes, and I needed more balance to get my sneakers off, so I leaned onto the closed toilet seat with my hand while I stood on one foot and tried to yank the shoe off with the other hand. This was apparently a huge mistake, because before I could stop it I felt the lid buckle and heard a sickening crack, and suddenly there was a big piece of toilet lid on the floor.
I felt very bad about this, because it was a very nice toilet seat, but it was only the start of a string of bad luck that would continue for the rest of the day. After I left my voice teacher’s apartment, I was walking to the subway when the piece of plastic that holds the cap to my water bottle on just snapped and my water bottle flew into the busy New York street. I don’t know why that happened. I have had that water bottle for quite some time, although not as long as other similar water bottles that have not broken, and it did not appear to be wearing out. But I guess it was. Luckily no one ran over it and I got it back, but still. First the toilet breaks, and now the water bottle. Things were not going well.
So I arrive at my audition 20 minutes early, or so I thought, but when I walk up to check in, I am informed that the person before me is running late, and actually I am on in about two seconds. Okay, fine. It’s better that way. No time for nerves to kick in. I walked in to that audition and sang the best aria I have ever sang. For real. Even I don’t know how I managed to sing that well. It was some legit singing, let me tell you. That’s when they asked me if I had any oratorio to sing for them.
Let me tell you a secret about auditions. Auditions are like anything else. The more you do them, the better you get at them and the easier they are. I remember back in my youthiness, having one or two big auditions for the year, maybe for a grad program, or a chorus I wanted to get into. I would spend a ton of time working on what I was going to sing, and then I would get there and be terrified. “Oh, I hope they pick this piece,” or “I hope they don’t pick that piece,” I would think. Because when you only do a few a year, you are just not going to be as good at auditioning as when you do three a week. But when you audition every week, after a while you have sung all of your pieces a million times. You have done the routine a million times. Nothing they say can surprise you, and all of what you are going to sing has been put through the ringer. This is why I don’t get that nervous about singing for auditions any more. At least until yesterday.
You see, the people I was singing for do mostly oratorio, but I have been singing mostly opera. So I brought opera to sing, and I sang it. But I also, knowing they would want to hear it, brought a sampling of oratorio pieces that I have sung over the years. The problem was, some of these pieces I haven’t sung in years. Oh, I went over them this week of course, but it is not the same as having sung them over and over again in lessons and at auditions three times a week for a year. It is more like that other, more terrifying scenario. And obviously they picked the one that I had done the longest time ago and was the least ready to sing, and so I stunk it up. Wrong notes. Wrong rhythms. Forgetting to come in in one spot. I honestly have only sung worse than that in one audition ever, and I walked out in the middle of that audition because I was so bad. At least this time I didn’t have to walk out. They stopped me halfway through and said “Thank you.”
After my triumph of a first aria, I felt horrible. I walked out of the room drenched in sweat, knees locked, stomach clenched, and feeling like an unprepared undergrad again. My agent said that it was not as bad as I thought. She said my voice sounded a little thin and it didn’t go as well as the first one, but that the first one was so good that it didn’t matter about the second one. I hope she’s right, because that is not how I want to present myself professionally.
I walked out of the building still feeling pretty bad, which I think is when I stepped in all of that gum. I didn’t really notice until I was walking into the subway again, but my Italian leather dress boots that I wear to all of my auditions were sticking pretty severely to the floor and they were completely covered in nasty old bubble gum. Hopefully that was the last of my bad luck, and hopefully my audition was better than my feelings about it. But really, I should have known when I broke the toilet.