A guest post from Lee Anne Myslewski, the Director of the Wolf Trap Opera Studio
The Wolf Trap Opera Studio is a program for students who are exceptionally talented but who are still trying to gather the skills and experiences that will support an operatic career. Studio Artists are typically undergraduate seniors or first-year grad students. Their auditions differ a little bit from the Filene Young Artist auditions, in that each Studio singer is allowed to include both art songs and arias on their list, rather than limiting themselves to operatic literature. It’s one way that we try to make sure that they can bring rep that shows them off to their best advantage.
The other piece of their audition is a monologue. It doesn’t need to be longer than a minute, and it needs to be in contemporary language. It’s a way for us to see a little bit past the singing technique. Now, we’re aware that it scares the bejeezus out of many Studio applicants to prepare a monologue – speaking, instead of singing? TERRIFYING! But the choice of piece can be a huge help, both in preparation and in the acing of your monologue. Here are some general guidelines, and some pieces that we’ve enjoyed so far:
- Choose contemporary language. Choose a speech from Scandal or The Walking Dead over Oscar Wilde. (Seriously, ladies, if I never hear Mabel talk about Tommy proposing to her endlessly, it’ll be too soon.)
- Choose a piece with a definite arc – beginning/middle/end. If it trails away, you won’t leave us with much of an impression.
- Only swear / pick an explicit subject if you’re ok with using the big granddaddy F word or talking about sex in front of potential employers. (And, if you do it? Go for it – don’t get embarrassed halfway through.)
- Consider comedy – often the comic/lighter pieces tend to represent you better. Your character berating an ex-lover or working through an abusive relationship is less varied, and therefore less interesting.
Some of the pieces that we’ve heard thus far on the audition tour that have been successful?
- Comic Female: Donna’s monologue from Population Growth from Aoise Stratford – about blind dating
- Dramatic Female: The Doctor’s monologue from Agnes of God by Pielmeier
- Dramatic Male: The Eulogy Scene from House of Cards (and why shouldn’t you pick something that’s on tv now? )
- Comic Female: Becky Reedy from Palestrina by Don Nigro (Becky gets a little too tipsy & makes a bad impression on her boyfriend’s Italian mother)
- Dramatic Female: Catherine from Proof
- Comic Female: “It’s terrible being nice” from Goodbye Charles by Gabriel Davis
- Dramatic Male & Female: Like Dreaming, Backwards by Kellie Powell
And some that have been less-than-successful?
- Mable Chittern’s monologue from Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. UNCLE.
- Lucy’s Coathanger monologue from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
- The Fantasticks. Unless your hair actually can turn mauve in the audition, it usually falls pretty flat.
We had one gentleman use a speech from Scandal, season 2 to great success, as well. And I’m leaving you with one of my favorites – an oldie AND a goodie.