This year I’ve become obsessed with politics, and I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the election cycle and opera audition season. Of course not every aspect of government applies to the mileu of music, but we can learn from political paralells:
-Campaign Managers. During this final quarter of the year I’m constantly in communication with my coach, my teacher and my manager. It’s imperative for me to assemble a team I can consistently trust to give me wisdom, encouragement and constructive criticism.
-Preparation = Performance. Just as presidential candidates tirelessly practice for rigorous debates, I have to make sure I’m always ready to deliver each phrase of every audition aria under intense pressure.
-Focus On The Process. David Axelrod recently recounted his work on the Obama campaign. He said that (then Senator) Obama was undaunted by relentlessly fluctuating polls. Instead, Obama poured his energy into the daily goal of sharing his message with voters. He believed that if he did the work, eventually his campaign would procure results. I try to adopt the same mindset when I’m auditioning for companies. My job is to walk into the room and deliver the best 10-minute performance I can muster. I can’t make anyone hire me, but I have to believe that if I keep working hard and singing well, eventually contracts will begin to materialize.
-Authenticity. Voters respect a candidate who has a vision and sticks with it. Generally people aren’t duped when politicians “flip flop” simply to get elected. Likewise, it’s vital for me to be true to myself in the audition room. I’ve often fallen into the trap of trying to become what I think a general director wants me to be. That strategy never works; my most effective auditions occur when I present the best version of myself and forget the toxic noise of the audition panel’s expectations and assumptions.
-Re-election. Making a flashy political speech is not the same as carrying out the job of governing. The same is true for singers. It’s always nice to kick butt in an audition and earn a debut, but long-term careers are established through return engagements from symphonies and opera companies. A full rehearsal process and a run of performances offer me a chance to show more professionalism, preparation, vocalism and stage presence than I could ever accomplish in a brief audition. Recently I’ve gained many more opportunities through these connections on the job than in the audition room.
-Service. Politicians sometimes forget that they are public servants. Unfortunately many elected officials allow power to consume them, and they forget the ideals that first inspired them to run for office. I believe that we artists are also here to serve in our own way. Through the power of music we can bring healing to those who are hurting and light to those who are suffering in the darkness. We can use our voices (literally and figuratively) to bring attention to underrepresented people and causes.
If you’re ever discouraged during election- I mean AUDITION season, rely on your campaign team, your preparation, your ideals and your authenticity to carry you through to victory!