Audition Technique and Communication by James Edwards


The following advice has been distilled by James Edwards from working with opera singers in a large space using a camera as a monitoring device.  This information has worked for all singers regardless of voice type and repertoire.  There is video evidence of all these findings.

Entering the room
•    Enter at an energised speed
•    Smile
•    Be Yourself
•    Speak clearly and confidently
1 Fixed point
•    Identify 1 fixed point of reference FPR in space. This can be an object or a specific 3d point in space
•    The FPR MUST be located slightly above the eye line of the performer and to the side of a panel. If the panel is at 1200 hrs the FPR must be at 1000 hrs or 1400 hrs. See Diagram below
Transition from introducing yourself to beginning your aria
•    Once you have introduced yourself and your aria locate the FPR
•    Do NOT go into another zone of try to act the character BE YOURSELF
•    Do NOT pull ‘over the top’ singer faces
•    If the piano introduction is long, start in a neutral position and gradually build a smile until you are bursting out and have to sing.  This especially applies if you are singing a sad or angry aria. 
Whilst singing your aria    
•    Remain fully aware of the FPR.  You may wish to sing directly to it, you may wish to pull away from it / avoid it.  Always keep the FPR in your mind’s eye and it is something that you can hold onto, use and own 
•    Smile.  Always smile
•    DO NOT make direct eye contact with the panel
•    When making dramatic / character decisions, always make the decision that is upward or positive. Getting down, angry or looking at the floor are all thing that can ‘get you stuck’
•    Vary the speed of any transitions as going against the music is more interesting to watch

Reasons and explanations 

Entering the room
Entering the room like this makes you look confident and that you are pleased to be there and want the work. People want to work with people they like.  This is your first impression and colours the panel’s judgement of you, even before you open your mouth to sing. 

Transition from introducing yourself to beginning your aria
You are selling yourself – your personality, looks and voice.  You are not selling the performance of an interpretation of an aria.  You are the product and you are interesting. 
1 Fixed point of Reference FPR
It is important to have the FPR as this is a specific and continuous focus of energy which the panel / audience will be able to reference.  Having multiple fixed points is confusing to the panel and makes you look like you are generalising and don’t know what you are doing.  It can also make you look nervous and insecure. 
The reason the FPR is at 1000 hrs or 1400 is that it enables the panel to be a voyeur and access what you are doing without the fear of being caught by you.  Eye contact during the performance of the aria is very disconcerting and traps the person watching.  Equally looking above or below a panel member makes the performer come across as glazed and slightly strange.

Whilst singing your aria    
The reason to smile is that people are more accessible and open when they smile and that is a window into whom we are.  The panel want to see you and they also want to be able to fill in the gaps of the blank canvas with their own feelings and experiences.  If you dictate everything to an audience you are removing them from the equation and they have not job to do.   Leaving ambiguity in what you are doing is a lot more interesting than being over clear.  Let them work.  Let the music and your voice do the job, don’t feel you have to add anything.  Don’t be arrogant enough to think that you can improve the music of a composer like Mozart or the text of Shakespeare.  Most of the work is done for you and you have to enable the audience to experience it and not get in the way. 
How to apply this in public performances – opera and concert
When in an opera production the FPR becomes the people on stage you are talking  / singing to or referring to.  During a soliloquy ( when you are alone on stage) use of an FPR is very useful. This can be a point in the auditorium just above your head height. It is specific and again remains fixed. 
In a concert where you are using music, the music is your FPR but do not become stuck to it. 
In an opera Gala or recital use an FPR. Where the audience is not raked, makes sure your FPR is within the central body of the audience but NOT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF YOU. Singing above the audience will alienate them. Attempting to sing to all / different members of the audience will make you look weak and confused. 
In filmed performances or recordings, use the camera lens as the person watching and fix a FPR at 1000 or 1400 as mentioned before. Do not make eye contact with the camera.