Annual Auditions Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does the Annual Audition work?
  2. What companies attend the audition?
  3. Why don't you separate the audition into genres?
  4. If Musical Theatre people are invited, why can't I sing a Musical Theatre song?
  5. Why is there only 4 minutes allowed per performer?
  6. Will performers be asked to sing additional music? Do they need a 'sing list?'
  7. Who screens the select performer applications?
  8. What is the screening committee's criteria for acceptance into the audition?
  9. Why is there no written feedback for performers at the select audition?
  10. Does BSR act as an agent or "go between" for performer-director contracts?
  11. May I audit the auditions just to watch and learn?
  12. Why are there two ways to submit and application for the Invitational audition?
  13. Does 'professionally made recording and photo' mean commercial?

Does the Annual Audition work?

We surveyed performers and auditors who have attended BSR auditions in the past. Of the performers replying to the poll, 15% received a solo job offer, 12% received a referral to another organization, 6% received an ensemble job offer, 26% received a call back and 49% received no response from the annual audition. Of the auditors polled, 40% indicated that they had success in finding performers from the BSR audition, 70% indicated that they book-marked performers from the BSR auditions for future consideration. Each audition day includes an average of 10-15 auditing companies and 50 performers. The BSR office continues to get feedback regarding successfully formed contracts after each audition. You can read testimonials from Performers and directors who have attended in the past.

What companies attend the audition?

Each year, BSR audition flyers and registration forms are sent out to over 700 New England area directors, producers, vocal leaders and event coordinators who seek classical soloists and ensemble members (including union, paid non-union, semi-volunteer and volunteer organizations.) Any organization that uses classical solo singing talent is welcome to attend the BSR Auditions. A list of organizations that have confirmed their intent to attend the auditions is emailed to performers approximately one week prior to the auditions. A program of organizations in attendance the day of the BSR audition, and their organization's contact, budget and repertoire information is provided to each performer at no additional cost. (All auditors are asked to attend the BSR audition for the entire day, and encouraged to send a substitute if they cannot. However, there is no guarantee that every organization on the program will be present during every time slot.)

BSR makes every effort to attract producing companies of all levels. Local and regional companies (Levels C and D as defined by Classical Singer Magazine and Musical America) who attend BSR auditions are typically looking for soloists and principals as well as chorus and comprimario singers. Larger organizations (Levels A and B), however, use management companies or personal contacts to find soloists/principals. If an A or B house attends a BSR audition, they are typically looking for chorus and comprimario singers, only.

The list of attending organizations continues to feature those that are new to the annual auditions as well as returning and past participants. However, there is no way to predict exactly who will be attending the auditions (auditor deadlines for registration are approximately two weeks prior to the audition).

Why don't you separate the audition into genres?

At this time, representatives of opera, oratorio and symphony organizations attend the BSR auditions together and we do not have enough company interest to warrant two separate auditions. In 2009, we urged all singers who perform oratorio as well as opera to please include both in their audition. The result was overwhelmingly positive. Not only were the oratorio companies pleased to hear more oratorio but the opera companies welcomed the change in style to help keep their listening fresh. If you are a performer who sings both opera and oratorio, please include an oratorio excerpt in your open, select and recorded auditions.

If Musical Theatre people are invited, why can't I sing a Musical Theatre song?

The BSR audition is unique in that it is specifically designed for New England classically trained singers. Although music theatre organizations are certainly encouraged to attend, the BSR audition is primarily for directors who are seeking classically trained or "legit voice" singers. Musical Theatre songs, as many of you know, often encompass styles of singing different from your traditional, "legit," classical singing. Rather than offer a list of what is acceptable "legit" musical theatre, BSR has limited the audition repertoire to that which most classically trained singers have studied previously, and that which lends itself exclusively to classical singing—opera and oratorio. Combined auditions for musical theater singers are held by Stagesource and by the New England Theatre Conference each year. BSR does not seek to recreate what these Musical Theatre auditions already do so well.

While art songs are allowed and certainly lend themselves to classical singing, the majority of auditors attending the BSR audition are seeking performers for opera, oratorio, orchestra, or musical theatre work. Singers should choose literature that reflects their abilities to perform in these genres.

Why is each singer limited to only 4 minutes?

Quite simply, 4 minutes allows us to give more BSR members a chance to be heard. The BSR audition is intended to be a screening of potential performers, not a final hearing (although some organizations do cast directly from the BSR audition.) Directors are encouraged to call back singers to hear more at another time. The majority of company leaders polled from previous BSR auditions indicated that the time allotted per performer (4 minutes of singing, 1 minute of passing time between performers) was "too much" or "just right." Note: It is strongly suggested that performers not excerpt more that two selections during a 4 minute audition.

Will performers be asked to sing additional music? Do they need a "sing list?"

No. The BSR audition is on a strict time schedule. Performers do not need to provide a "sing list" and they will not be asked to sing additional music during this time. Director/producers are encouraged to call back singers to hear more at another time.

Who screens the performers for the Select Auditions?

The select performer applications are screened and performers are chosen for the auditions by the BSR Audition Committee. The BSR Audition Committee of five (5) varies each year and typically includes one regional director/producer, one teacher/performer/coach, one BSR past auditor, two BSR audition coordinators.

Click for a lists of past Select Audition participants by year:

2011201020092008200720062005

What is the screening committee's criteria for acceptance into the Invitational Audition?

Directors listening to the open auditions and recordings are looking for "solid musicians with professional or substantial non-professional experience." The listening committee suggests the following:

  • Resume and stage presence (or recording) should be neat, clear, and professional.
  • Repertoire listed on the resume should be consistent with the performer's voice type.
  • The singers' BEST song should be at the very beginning of the recording.
  • Name and contact information should be labled clearly on the resume, photo, AND recording.
  • Basic vocal qualities should include excellent pitch and rhythm, ease of tone (not pushed), proper diction, a healthy/natural vibrato, consistency of tone throughout the range. Repertoire appropriate to the voice and appropriate musical interpretation and phrasing should be demonstrated.

Please note that no preference will be given to either the mailed applications nor to the live Open Audition applicants. Application submission is entirely up to the individual performer, and should most accurately reflect the performer's current musicality and professional presence.

Why is there no written feedback for performers at the Invitational Audition?

Beginning in the spring of 2004, BSR initiated the new "Open Audition" with written feedback for the performers. Singers and accompanists seeking written feedback, should attend the Open Auditions. Three (3) members of the audition committee will prepare ratings and comments for all of the performers. The BSR Audition Committee of five (5) varies each year and typically includes one regional director/producer, one teacher/performer/coach, one BSR past auditor, two BSR audition coordinators.

Please note that the BSR auditions, in general , are unique combined-company auditions and so most organizations that might ordinarily send a thank you note following their own, personal, auditions, will not be doing so after the BSR auditions. BSR asks that performers please take no offense to an individual organization's lack of response following the BSR audition and we thank you, ahead of time, for your participation, talent, understanding, and committment to classical singing.

Does BSR act as an agent or "go between" for performer-director contracts following the audition?

No. All contracts before, during, and after the audition are negotiated directly between performers and organizations. BSR simply acts as a facilitator for the audition and accepts no additional fees or percentages for successfully formed partnerships. Also please note that BSR is a non-profit organization; all fees go directly to non-salary operating and audition costs.

May I audit the auditions just to watch and learn?

No. All auditors for the auditions must be representatives of organizations that hire singers and accompanists or they must be BSR approved guests or individuals who are providing written feedback and peer support.

Why are there two ways to submit an application for the Invitational Audition?

The BSR Audition Committee wants to encourage all performers to represent themselves in the most accurate way possible. In the past, committee members have been disappointed in the number of poorly made recordings submitted by Select Audition applicants. They have also been surprised at the number of performers who do not look like their photo or sound like their recording at the live audition. It is for this reason that the committee is encouraging all performers who do not have professionally made materials to be screened at the live audition rather than to send inferior or misleading recordings and photos. Please note, however, that no preference will be given to either the mailed Invitational Audition applications nor to the live Open Audition applicants. Performers who have professional materials are most welcome to send them in. Type of application is entirely up to the individual performer, and should most accurately reflect the performer's current musicality and professionalism.

Does "high quality recording or photo"mean it should be commercial?

No, it means that your recording or photo was engineered or photographed in a proper environment with proper equipment. The quality should be clean and clear. Singers should not sing acappella unless the song is written acappella. The recording cover or back of the photo should have a neatly typed label that includes name, title of piece(s), name of the accompanist and contact information. The recording and photo should sound and look like you now (not 15 years ago). The recording and photo should not be altered to what you wish you sounded like now. 'Commercial' means your recording or photo is/was for sale. A recording or photo does not need to be for sale to be considered 'high quality'.