Posts > The Audition Room: Opera North's Louis Burkot and Pamela A. Pantos

The Audition Room: Opera North's Louis Burkot and Pamela A. Pantos

Opera North is currently accepting applications for their Summer 2013 Young Artist Program. Auditions are held nationwide, and although individual deadlines are listed, Opera North schedules applicants on a rolling basis.  Auditions slots are filling up quickly, so don't wait until the deadline to apply.  Applications can be submitted through YAP Tracker's online application process here.

Louis Burkot
Louis Burkot
Pamela Pantos
Pamela A. Pantos
At Opera North, Executive Director, Pamela A. Pantos, and Artistic Director, Louis Burkot, collaborate to execute the strategic and artistic vision for their company. This dictates all of the business and creative decisions made, including casting.  They shared with us their insights about the audition and application process below.  Thanks to both Pamela and Louis! 

Q. How should singers assess whether they are ready to apply to Opera North specifically or a program of similar caliber?

Louis: Since I have auditioned singers for our Young Artist Program for over 25 years, I believe a profile has emerged that has a great deal of consistency. A singer is ready to audition when he/she has a strong enough technique to be musically flexible and can successfully collaborate with conductors, directors and other singers. They should have highly developed musical and dramatic ideas to bring to rehearsal and also have a realistic sense of their capabilities.

Q. Any tips on what you are looking for in an application or what a singer can do to make their application more likely to be accepted for an audition?

Pamela: We respect singers who have consistency in their resume, repertoire, and materials. If you are a lyric soprano, but have sung dramatic soprano or even mezzo roles, then you are either grabbing every possible opportunity to sing or are not clear in your focus. It is difficult to say, “No,” when an opportunity to sing a role comes along. However, a young singer needs to be prepared to do so in order to stay focused on the best trajectory for their instrument and artistry.

Q. Would you share some advice on how one can best prepare for your auditions?

Pamela: Consider the repertoire that the company will be performing that season. This year, we have roles available for Young Artists in Lucia, Little Women, and South Pacific. So, we need to hear something in English (preferably American compositions) and Italian. The Young Artist needs to have at least one aria in each of the standard languages that demonstrates the capability of his/her instrument. So, even if your French or German arias are your favorites, starting with a piece in one of these languages does not align with the roles that the company is casting.

Q. What is the most important thing you want to hear from a singer in their first (and perhaps only) aria, or see in the audition room in general?

Louis: To be truly moved by the singer’s vocal and dramatic gestures is what I hope to encounter in auditions. To find that artist that says "look at me,” and "listen to me.” I have important things to say!

Q. If a singer has applied in the past and either not been heard or not been hired, what’s your advice in terms of knowing when to apply again?

Louis: Offer a DVD or a CD that shows the vocal and musical growth that we expect with each succeeding year.

Q. Have you noticed any trends in recent audition seasons of ways in which singers (in general) could work to improve?

Louis: I have noticed from a technical point of view there are more singers auditioning each year that can actually produce the notes of difficult arias with confidence, but there are far fewer who bring convincing and compelling artistry to these same arias.

Q. If I am offered a place at Opera North next summer, how should I prepare beforehand and comport myself during the summer to take the best advantage of the opportunity?

Pamela: Every piece of music that is selected by Opera North and sent to the Young Artist should be thoroughly researched, internalized, and memorized. This includes all roles, scenes, arias, and chorus materials. During the first week, the Young Artists already have their first performances and stage rehearsals, so everyone is expected to come prepared. The YAs who achieve the greatest learning curves are those who listen and observe carefully to the Stage Directors, Conductors, and Coaches. They stay focused on the work and absorb as much information as possible.

Q. Once the program has been completed, how can I best use the experience to further my career?

Pamela: Opera North is often the first major professional experience for many of our Young Artists. They should keep in touch with the company, the Principal artists, and other artistic staff with whom they have an affinity. It is the beginning of their professional networking opportunities.

Q. Any additional advice you'd like to share with singers in the midst of this young artist program application season?

Louis:  Think of yourself as a business professional as well as an artist. That will come across in the audition.

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