Praised by Broadway World as a “compelling actor” with a “rich and powerful bass voice,” James Harrington returned to the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program ... more
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YAP Bootcamp: Application Process

This week, the YAP Bootcamp looks at the application process as a whole: what's required, and what preparation you can do ahead of time to conserve your resources and make the whole process run smoothly.

So far in our YAP Application Bootcamp, we’ve covered the different types of YAPs found in the United States, brought you a list of American YAPs, and showed you some strategies for using research to choose how to direct your resources and energy during audition season. Today, I’m going to talk you through the application process.

  1. See What’s Available

  2. There are a couple of sources for finding YAP auditions, but the most popular and thorough is YAP Tracker. YAP Tracker is a subscription service that lists auditions of all types (including main stage, YAPs, and Pay-to-Sings), hosts applications, and sends out the beloved “YAP Tracker booty call” every night around midnight with new opportunities to consider. Other sources include Auditions Plus (a service of Classical Singer Magazine) and the bulletin board in your voice department hallway. Suffice it to say, I recommend YAP Tracker, as it has by far the greatest concentration of diverse opportunities available — including just about every American YAP.

  3. Do Research to Find the Best Possible Opportunities

  4. This step was covered with an entire article earlier this month, so there’s not a lot left to say. I recommend organizing the companies you think fit your singer profile into a spreadsheet/Google sheet, and adding their audition info, season info, audition dates, audition locations, audition/application requirements, and application fees as they come available on YAP Tracker.

  5. Make Sure Your Materials are (Relatively) Up to Date

  6. All applications are going to require one or more of your audition materials: head shot, résumé, recordings, videos, and bio. In early-to-mid August each year, go through your YAP Tracker profile and be sure that you’ve only got your most recent iterations of each of these in there, so you don’t have to dig around for the right ones. Remember: recordings are typically required to be no more than 2 years old by app submission deadline (some are no more than one year). And it behooves you (I shouldn’t have to say this, but I feel as though I should) to have a résumé and bio that reflect your most recent engagements, repertoire, and reviews.

  7. Check the Reqs (Requirements, that is)

  8. Some YAPs require multiple audio and/or video recordings. If the YAPs you’re looking for haven’t posted yet, dig up last year’s audition listing — they rarely change year to year. Be sure that you know which of your arias cover which requirements, and get the best (but by no means does it need to be professionally done) recordings of each of them that you can, so you won’t be scrambling around at the last minute — or worse, running your audio through Audacity to create more recent metadata to fake a recent recording. Not cool.

  9. Find Your Recs (Recommenders, that is)

  10. Many YAPs, and even Pay-to-Sings, require recommendations. As you progress up the ladder, and it’s assumed that you’ve worked with more people, the requirements for these become a little more specific: maybe only one of three can be a voice teacher, and the other two need to be “recognized professionals” in the field. As far as I can tell, this latter designation means no educational references and no community theatre/opera references, but is otherwise fairly fluid. It goes without saying that these recommendations should be very positive, and so you have to do a little background work with your recommenders in order to ensure that you’re getting the right message to the YAP you’re targeting. Consider the following guidelines for getting recommendations:
    • First, make a list of people you’ve worked with who know you well: teachers, coaches, directors, conductors, and administrators at previous YAPs.
    • DO NOT ask for recommendations from people who don’t know you, won’t remember you, or won’t give a positive review. The conductor from a professional production in which you were a chorister is a poor choice. The chorus master in the same production is a good choice. DO NOT ask for recommendations from famous people whose master classes you sang in. They have worked with you for 45 minutes in a bizarre setting. There is no way their word can carry much weight.
    • Next, approach the people on your list and ask them, candidly, whether they think the YAP(s) you’re targeting is/are a good fit, and whether they would feel comfortable recommending you. If they say no, take their feedback graciously and thank them for their time.
    • Enter your recommenders’ contact info into the application on YAP Tracker or the company’s site, and complete whatever process is specified in the app.
    • Whether the result is good or bad, reach out to your recommenders to let them know the result and to thank them for speaking on your behalf.
  11. Submit and wait

  12. Go over the entire application 2-3 more times to ensure you have filled in every box, spelled, accented, and capitalized everything correctly, attached all required materials, and then submit the application with your fee (if required). Update your spreadsheet to reflect any new information, and prepare to wait a few weeks to hear back. In the meantime, make sure you’re keeping tabs on flights and other auditions in the same area within the same time frame in order to maximize your bang/buck ratio.

While you wait to hear back from the YAPs you applied to, be working on your audition repertoire, and again, be sure that you’re keeping track of which arias work for which company’s requirements. Most companies require 4-5 arias in 4 languages, including English, and many require a 20th or 21st century piece. Keep these on your radar as you prepare for audition season, and keep it as simple as you can — if you can make 5-6 arias cover all of your needs, then don’t needlessly complicate things by trying to work up 8 or 9. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my years of auditioning, it’s that I’m most confident when I know how to sing everything on my list, and can be myself in the audition, rather than frantically trying to remember words and blocking.

All of which is a wonderful segue into our next series, Auditions, which is starting very soon — stay tuned!

OpusAtlas Summer YAP Bootcamp Series

1. YAP Overview
2. YAP List
3. Research
4. Application Process
5. Résumés

Praised by Broadway World as a “compelling actor” with a “rich and powerful bass voice,” James Harrington returned to the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program ... more