On the Stage - Scene 1: Auditions

The inspiration for this text was taken by the video released by the Opéra National de Paris at their YouTube channel on May this year, entitled Audition. Directed and created by Manuela Dalle and Carole Grigy, the short seven minute video transport us to a universe of indescribable feelings and expectations that only those who have passed through this kind of situation can well understand. Here is the link for the video: Audition
One may say that any job interview is a type of audition. Ok, we can say that. But, when you are in a non artistic interview, “audition”, you are allowed, or at least, you are not harshly judged if your hands are shaking, if your voice is trembling, if your knees are slightly moving without your consent, if you mouth is dry and you have no saliva, if your neck is blocked, if you can not breathe consciously, and so on. Basically, you need to show your intellect, your educational and professional background, your abilities and adequacy to the spot, your social  and creative skills, etc, etc. Despite the expectancy that one should show a good posture, in a non artistic “audition” you don´t need your body!!

Us, from the art world, we need to be our body and not only move through it. Together with all technical knowledge, educational background, infinite practice hours, important professional experiences, and good doses of contacts and networking,  an artist must master his body and all that comes with it: emotions, limitations, irregularities, illness,  ugliness x beauty, age, fears, etc.

You from the corporative or entrepreneurship world, that are today, more than never, submerged on the search of high stakes life and on the mastership of mind control, please feel free to learn with us! We may not sometimes be good administrators, but hell we understand about self-control, concentration and focus! At least we need to believe it, it is a premise.

We are trained to use our bodies as means of transmitting artistic communication – every art with it´s especific codes, phrasing, language and style. This sort of communication can happen according to different circumstances in many different ways. It´s intended to be, a priori, something deeply spontaneous, surreal in which you can really see the artist almost in a transcendent state of concentration and connection with what his performing or creating, with a complete free body and mind. This is the goal.

But it´s not always like that. Referring again to the mentioned video, Audition, this is a moment that for any artist in general may represent a terrifying or at least very unpleasing situation. In this video we have an example of the atmosphere of pre-audition for young opera singers disputing a place at the Young Opera Studio from theOpéra National de Paris. A big opportunity indeed.

What the creators of this short video showed, was a very sensible and sharp look over what are the feelings that emerged on those artists on those few minutes before entering the auditioning room. We can see what every candidate make as rituals or tricks to find a state of concentration and relaxation. From praying, doing massage or sucking lemon to stimulate saliva production, all is worth doing. It´s interesting to see the urge of this people in this tense situation, struggling to keep control and concentration.

We can say that, in general, the candidates that applied for the audition for a place at the Opéra de Paris, they all have in common a very consistent preparation and they all have good potential. It is unfair, but sometimes, what may differ one artist´s performance from another in an audition process, is how he or she feels and reacts on those few minutes before auditioning!

Sometimes you may feel completely confident and energetic to do an audition by the moment you  leave your house. Suddenly, if there´s  a lack of deep self-control and self-trust, by the moment you get on the auditioning place, you may observe a declining curve of stimulus and concentration led by the interference of the external pressure and your own internal pressure, culminating on the terrifying collapse of your true artistic potential.

The same goes to what happens when you dare to face those white and inexpressive faces of the Jury, and you just suddenly sink yourself on aleatory thoughts like “what´s happening?”, “is it really that bad?”, “do they think I´m to old to be 30, despite looking like 21?”, and so on. Or, when they look at you and then start writing something, and you think that they are writing your sentence of death, but actually they are probably just drawing a little flower on the corner of the page.

It is really a big challenge to fight against all the feelings and external interference that an artist is put on those few minutes before an exam and during it. That leads us to the conclusion that, it´s no use to have the most precise technic and the most natural talent to a specific art, if you don´t master also your self-control, if you don´t know yourself sufficiently to know exactly how you should react on those pressure moments and how you could help yourself not to fall on a collapse of potential.

As it is indeed a big issue that one should worry about, there are many interesting bibliographies devoted to discuss this subject, on the intent to help the artist, may it be an opera singer, a dancer, an actor, a painting artist,etc, to develop this other important side of the performing life. On the next article I will suggest and make a small review of a very simple book that is helping me a lot.

Just breathe and trust!

Brazilian soprano Nivea Freitas, with academic background in physics, left the area of science and completed her bachelor of classical singing in 2013 at the UFMG music school - Brazil, oriented by prof. Luciana Monteiro. By mid 2015 concluded a dissertation on musical performance research, also at the UFMG, which was partially developed in Paris in her exchange studies for a year at the theater department of the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. During this period, she profited also to improve her performance practice at the École Normale de Musique de Paris, oriented by the french soprano Caroline Dumas, and Yves Sotin (Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de Musique de Paris).

Since October 2015 she is doing a professional master's degree in Germany at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg oriented by the tenor Mark Tucker.

She is a performer with a broad classical musical interest that goes from opera to contemporary music repertoire, concert and artsong, and presents herself actively in concerts and recitals in Brasil and Europe.

Author: Nivea Freitas
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