Banghart Scholar – Katie Allen – Tells of her audition experience with the Washington Opera Institute
Auditioning for the Washington National Opera Institute was an amazing and unique audition experience for someone my age (16). Those eligible to audition (Sophomore-Senior year high school students from all over the WORLD) who appreciate the arts, specifically opera, and are interested in pursuing a career in vocal performance, were encouraged to apply. How did I find out about such an amazing opportunity? After writing an essay, getting a teacher recommendation, filling out many forms, and preparing an Italian aria and a second art song, I prepped for my audition. For my Italian aria I decided to sing O Del Mio Dolce Ardor, a dramatic aria in minor, by Christoph Willibald Von Gluck. And for my art song, I chose a coloratura-type song called I Attempt From Loves Sickness by Henry Purcell and auditioned on-site at the Kennedy Center on February 2nd.
I arrived early at the Kennedy Center and took a tour. I picked up many inside facts and information about the construction and history of the building, I peeked in the presidential boxes on each of the 3 three theater’s, visited the VIP lounges on each level, and got pictures with art donated by multiple countries. Because there were no shows or rehearsals going on at the time we were there, my tour guide let me sing an excerpt of one of my audition songs in the Kennedy Center Opera House! Now I can say that I’ve sang there… but I may just leave out the part that I was standing in the house and not the stage… but hey, it still counts! After our personal tour and my mini performance, It was time for my audition. I stood by 2 large doors in the Hall of Nations and waited to be brought down to the audition area. At 2:10pm I was led through the backstage doors with a keycard, then onto a large elevator with racks of costumes and props being pushed by crew members, and through halls bustling with performers. As I registered and signed in, I watched as professional ballerinas moved by in large tutus and extravagant costumes. Then I was moved to a personal warm-up/practice room. About 10 minutes later I was taken to another hallway where I was seated to wait for the room to open for my audition time. Over the speakers I could hear live audio and stage directions by tech members for the performance of Sleeping Beauty by the Canadian National Ballet which had just started while I was down there. It was all so surreal, any nervous energy I previously had was replaced with excitement, and soon enough I was taken into the audition room. I was directed by 4 judges to stand on an X across the room and was given time to establish tempo and other needed things with the provided pianist. A minute later I was ready to start, I introduced myself and my songs, and then I sang. I was nervous, but not nearly as much as I normally feel during the audition process. When I finished performing, my judges thanked me for coming and asked where I’m from. We talked for a couple minutes and then I was escorted back upstairs, still reeling from excitement after being backstage at the Kennedy Center.
Four weeks later I was notified that I had been put on the waitlist for the soprano voice part. Upon hearing the news, I was still extremely excited, it meant I didn’t make it, but I was super proud of myself for being considered as one of the approximately 5 sopranos that they take out of the whole WORLD! After all, every year they only take a maximum of 25 students total and it is extremely competitive, being one of the only pre-college opera programs of its kind! I was ecstatic about my accomplishment and was so thankful for the opportunity to experience a professional audition; although, about a week later I got even better news. I was taken off the waitlist and was accepted into the program.
I am proud to say that If all goes well, I will be staying on campus at American University for three weeks this summer. I will be taking Italian, German, and French diction classes, acting, dance/movement, improv, opera history, choir, and many more classes with some of the most prestigious teachers and musicians to prepare me for my dream career. Washington National Opera Institute here I come!