Sunday, January 24, 2010

Met's "The Audition" airs on PBS, then in theaters

Many PBS stations showed a special two hour “Great Performances” documentary Jan. 20 or 21, “The Audition”, directed by Susan Froemke. A typical reference is on Wyoming PBS here.

Twenty two singers rehearse and sing various aria excerpts, and are coached behind the scenes: they are leaving their teaching environments and selling themselves as their own artists.

One issue is how they choose their audition items. It’s common to have a “required” item from a list, and a second item that is more wide open. When I played in piano festivals in the 1950s, that’s how it worked, but the “choice” had to be an “American” composer, but Rachmaninoff counted because he had lived in the US!

Many of the arias sounded like they came from standard Mozart and Verdi, also Donizsetti, Tchaikowssky, Bellini.

Voice is perhaps the most physically demanding of all the “parts” – being performed without an “instrument”.

The tenor described the top of his range, and another contestant talked about being rested and needing to take three sleeping pills, and about his “New Jersey temper”. Another describes trying to hit the highest C.

The contestants get full make-up before their trials.

The "judges' meeting" is interesting. The chief says that each winner gets $15000. She also says that although age doesn't matter much, she might "forgive" small lapses at age 22 but not at age 30.

The Met says that the movie will play in movie theaters in the US April 19 as a special event. The link is here. (Note comment: it says that the theatrical showing was last year).

At the end of the film, the outcome for many contestants was shown a year later. And after the film, Renee Flemming gave an interview.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Met auditorium inside


Kitty said...

Bill, I believe April 19th was last year. It first aired in movie theaters as part of 2009 Met HD broadcasts, then on PBS. This is usually the case with all Met HD broadcasts - first in the movies, later on PBS.

I don't believe it'll air in movie theaters again - it's not on the list of Met HD broadcasts this year. It will however be shown again on PBS during the day on Feb 7th - as part of Sunday with the Arts, I believe, at least on some stations.

Kitty said...

One other thing: Many of the arias sounded like they came from standard Mozart and Verdi.

This is not the case. Alec Shrader sang Ah mes amies from Le fille du Regiment by Donizetti; Angela Meade sang Casta Diva from Bellini's Norma; Ryan Smith sang Federico's lament from Cilea's Arlesiane; Michael Fabiano sang Lensky aria from Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin; a mezzo (forgot her name) sang witch' aria from Handel and Gretel; there were also Wagner, another Bellini aria. Only one Verdi's aria (Caro Nome) and I don't remember any Mozart, though there could have been one. All selections were identified on the scren as the finalists' performed, I am surprised you missed it.

I don't believe there were any required selections - there was no mention on it in the movie, and there aren't any listed on Met's website for National Council Auditions requirements which is the competition this documentary is about; 2 selected arias for the finals again seemed to be contestants' choice based on what they felt would better show their abilities. At least it looked this way to me.