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Claudia Friedlander

Fees for mainstage auditions seem to be a recent (and growing) phenomenon. I first began to notice them when the recession hit and opera companies started tightening their belts; there may have been board meetings where admins were brainstorming how to make up their budget shortfall when it occurred to them that dividing it up among the singers they planned to audition would close the gap without causing any one person extreme hardship. I can see why this solution would make sense on a certain level, but I feel pretty vehemently that as Cindy said, singers shouldn't have to pay for job interviews. The admins were not looking at it that way, and they should.

That an opera company would consider collecting application and audition fees as a means of covering costs unrelated to their auditions is symptomatic of a greater problem: these organizations need to do a better job of managing their resources across the board. NYCO and Gotham were continuing to produce sensation work when they succumbed to financial stresses created by poor management. Opera companies need to get their houses in order. We cannot afford to be casual about fundraising and budget issues. Passing on operating costs to the singers seems to me to be a lazy and ill-conceived bandaid to cover up a greater wound.

B. N. Ass

Who charges fees for mainstage, aside from small companies? I have only heard of Knoxville and Pensacola, not places I audition. And I would have turned them down. I heard that New Orleans charges, but my management company paid the fee for the roster and I got a job.


Hi BN,

I have quite a list of regional companies --- not all small --- based on the reports of various singers. You might be surprised at some of the names on it. However, these names have not yet been independently verified and I wouldn't feel comfortable publishing them until they are.


B. N. Ass

So without "independent verification," I find this blog to perhaps be a lot of unsubstantiated whining. I did the regional circuit and for a nice company or a friend - still do. I've never paid a fee for a mainstage audition.


I personally have been asked for fees by Knoxville and Wichita Grand, and a number of AGMA soloists who sing at both regional and A house levels have given me other names for the list. Although I have no reason to doubt their veracity, I am not publishing this list until I've had a chance to research it myself.

I reject your characterization of this post as whining. Just because fees didn't happen to you doesn't mean they don't happen, and the material has been presented in a fair manner and tone. The mere expression of an opinion you disagree with does not constitute whining.

B. N. Ass

I can't imagine that any A or B house asks for a fee. They never have with me - save the one exception I gave. And even in my days of C houses, I was never asked. Had I been, I would have turned them down - like any singer can and should. I'm sure the fee is indicative of how they treat people, those who whine on and on and those who don't.


Dear B.N. Ass,

Congratulations! I'm delighted for you that you haven't had to pay fees. Unfortunately, plenty of non-whiner singers are, indeed, asked for them, and at houses which would surprise you. Incidentally, you do realize that your supposed A & B house career is also currently unverified, since, no matter how I try, I can't seem to find any opera singer out there having a career under the name "B.N. Ass?" Hence, I have to assume you're talking out your ass, as otherwise, you'd have the courage of your convictions.

Bottom line: singers want to work, but they don't want to be taken advantage of by their prospective employers - and they shouldn't be. Period. Asking a business not to shift the cost of doing business onto prospective employees isn't "whining," it's common sense.

Claudia Friedlander

Dear Ms/Mr Ass,

I’m not sure what point you are trying to make here. If you’re suggesting that mainstage audition fees are not, in fact, a *thing*, it must be because you started winding down your career before the recession really began to send everyone scrambling. If they weren’t a thing then Amanda Keil would not have written her obnoxious blog post defending them a year ago. It may be that they are more common among smaller regional houses than the A and B companies that were your preferred haunts, but that makes them more problematic rather than less, as most singers do not launch their Met careers straight out of conservatory.

You seem to be implying that only shitty singers who have to sing in shitty houses would ever encounter such shenanigans and that a serious artist such as yourself would never associate with such riff-raff. So good for you, that you never had to deal with such nonsense - it clearly attests to your professional superiority to have never had the stink of an audition fee come within your vicinity, with the exception of that one instance where you had your manager take care of it, as would any real singer of merit.

But again, I’m not sure why you’re commenting on this post at all. Whether or not opera companies are charging audition fees is not in question - they are. This is a post about whether or not they ought to. All you appear to be expressing, Ms/Mr Ass, is the point of view that you find pathetic anyone whose career is so poorly developed that they must deal with so demeaning a problem. Having been fortunate to enjoy a satisfying career, shouldn’t you instead be advocating for members of the next generation who wish to do the same?

Susan Eichhorn-Young

perhaps you've been out of the loop lately? And if you are indeed performing and have had an esteemed career - why bother dismissing what up and coming singers might be dealing with? Should we not support those who are pursuing said craft and career? Not sure why the lack of humanity is necessary.

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Where's Cindy Singing Next?

  • Madame Armfeldt, A Little Night Music, Alamo City Opera
    February 3 & 4, 2018 https://www.alamocityopera.org/

Cindy on Stage

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    I play dress-up for a living.

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