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
Written on in Entrepreneurship & Career Development.

Last update on .

YAP Bootcamp: Résumés

This week’s column is a fitting pivot between YAP Applications and our October Audition series, and details the elements of the singer’s most important document: The Résumé.

In my private consulting, I get more questions about the résumé than almost any other topic — and with good reason. The résumé is the first impression most casting directors get of you, and if designed and populated well, it adds valuable context and depth to your application and your audition. So what makes a great résumé — at the YAP level and beyond?

Common Ground
Every singer’s résumé contains some of the same information:

  • Name

  • Your name should be at the top, and should use the biggest, boldest font in the whole document.

  • Voice type

  • I stop short of saying “fach” here, because at the YAP level, almost no one can say for sure, with the possible exception of coloratura sopranos. But your voice type, broadly speaking — Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Contralto, Countertenor, Tenor, Baritone, Bass-Baritone, Bass — should be next to or beneath your name, and still in a bigger (and maybe bolder, depending on your design preferences) font than anything but your name.

  • Contact Information

  • Or your management’s contact info. And here, though some may disagree, I think it’s sufficient to have your email and phone #, along with your website URL. If you’re auditioning for a local production, it may also benefit you to have your city and state listed.

  • Performance Experience

  • This may include headings like: Roles Performed/Covered, Roles Studied, Partial Roles/Scenes, Concert, Competitions, and Chorus/Ensemble work (only if you’re applying to pay-to-sings, choruses, or grad schools, or have no other stage experience). You MUST INCLUDE YEARS.

  • Education/Training

  • There are two ways to present your education and training program experience: (1) put schools and training programs together, or (2) separate them into two categories. In my opinion, the only consideration here is one of space — do what looks and fits best on your résumé. Personally, I separate them and place them in adjacent columns, because it only uses 4 or 5 vertical lines of space, rather than 8 or 9.

Optional Inclusions

  • Headshot Thumbnail

  • Some people like to include a thumbnail of their headshot in the upper right or left corner of their résumé, across from their name, voice type, and contact information. This can make for a very attractive presentation. Just make sure it doesn’t take up any more than about 1/5 of the vertical space on the page. Look at other singers’ résumés for reference.

  • Special Skills

  • If you have extensive dance, dramatic, acrobatic, athletic, martial arts/stage combat, instrumental, or linguistic/dialectic training, it is worth including those at the bottom of your résumé in their own section.

  • Languages

  • Less common, but perhaps useful at the pay-to-sing, grad school, or early YAP stages to show well-roundedness. Include the length of study, and rough level of fluency. Examples may include:
    French: 5 yrs / Intermediate
    German: 10 yrs / Fluent

  • References

  • To the untrained eye, this looks like a harmless name-dropping section with categories like, “Teachers,” “Coaches,” “Directors,” “Conductors,” and “Master Classes.” This is NOT a name-dropping section — you are putting these people forward as references to the quality of your work. So consider the following:

    Teachers: Include your teachers, yes. Even include teachers who worked with you more than 2 or 3 times at a summer program.
    Coaches: Include coaches with whom you’ve worked either regularly or very recently for several sessions. Reevaluate these entries every year to be sure you still feel they’d remember you.
    Stage Directors: List directors from professional productions only if you had a principal role. You may include your director from school if you’ve played a principal role or taken an acting/opera theatre/opera workshop class with them.
    Conductors: Unless you played a principal role, skip conductors.
    Master Class: Unless you participated in Joyce DiDonato’s Carnegie Hall master class, broadcast on, there’s no chance that this section benefits you. Due to the brevity and setting of your work together, these aren’t reliable references.

Formatting Rules

  1. Roles Performed should also include the Opera, the Company, and the Year, and be listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first).

  2. They should also include marking denoting covers or performances with piano only (the assumption in performed roles is that it was with orchestra). Always list a year. Always.

  3. List the title of the opera in the language in which it was performed.

  4. Be sure that you are correctly capitalizing titles and using correct diacritical markings. And ALWAYS go back and make sure your spell check hasn’t turned a foreign word into an English one.

    In German: First word of the title and all nouns.
    Ex. Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

    In Italian and French: First word of the title and all PROPER nouns. (names, cities, etc.)
    Ex. Le nozze di Figaro; La bohème.

    In English: All “principal” words. (i.e. not articles, pronouns, or conjunctions)
    Ex. The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, The Abduction from the Seraglio.

  5. Partial Roles/Scenes should include a note if the scene was performed with orchestra.

  6. Unlike Roles Performed, the assumption is generally that scenes were performed with piano. You should move this section off of your résumé when you move out of the YAP phase of your career — it's really just to demonstrate continuous stage experience while you're in your training phase and gaining principal role experience.

  7. Roles Prepared applies to roles you have learned and coached in their entirety.

  8. You should list the company where you studied it, and you should consider only including roles you could sing on stage with orchestra tonight. I am aware of at least one singer who sang an audition for a company who asked her in that audition if she could sing one of her “Prepared” roles that night, as they had their singer fall ill. She could, and did.

  9. Concert work looks best, in my opinion, if it’s formatted the same as the operatic repertoire on your list.

  10. In what was the “role” category, list yourself as “Soloist,” “Tenor Soloist,” or a named character, if you sang one of those. (ex. Adam, Evangelist, Jesus, Eve, Gabriel.)


I have used both MS Word and MS Excel to make my résumés. The benefit of using Excel is it becomes highly customizable, and tweaking the formatting in one cell doesn’t change the formatting in any other. Additionally, adding lines to your résumé is as easy as “Insert Row.” If you use this platform, I recommend shrinking the vertical columns so that about 40 fit on a page, so that you can make use of smaller degrees of spacing/indenting on the page.

The upside to MS Word came largely when I started putting my headshot on my résumé, and I never quite got the same degree of ease in Excel as I did from inserting the picture into Word and setting it to “Behind Text” or “In Front of Text.” In Word, you can use either Tabs or Tables to format your page, and you’ll be able to get a very attractive result.


The résumé is the most important document in a singer’s arsenal. As I said earlier, a well-designed résumé can give casting directors valuable insight into your preparation and your capabilities that they may not get in a 7-minute audition. So take some time this week, compile all of the information above, then look at other singers’ résumés, and decide what you want to communicate with yours. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Next week, we're fully into the Audition series, and we'll get some valuable inside information from the other side of the table!

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