Having started my Summer Internship at Opera North I can say the layout of the theatre and offices is a lot bigger than I expected. My first morning I was given a tour of the offices and backstage, with a number of levels and countless stairs all looking very similar. I realised how easy it may be for someone new to the building (like myself) to find themselves getting lost.

Last week I was lucky enough to sit in on the Orchestra of Opera North rehearsing for Opera in the Park. Here I got my first glimpse of the Howard Assembly Room. It really is a hidden gem, capturing the beautiful tone of every note sung and instrument played.

Orchestra rehearsal in the Howard Assembly Room. Photo credit: Brian Slater

As part of my internship I was asked to help during a day of auditions. I again realised I’d have to get to grips with the layout of the theatre as to not get myself – or even worse, the people auditioning – lost. Before I knew it the first person had arrived, out of around 15 singers who were auditioning for mainstage Opera North productions which will take place over the next few seasons.

After guiding a number of people to the rehearsal space, I’d discovered many of them had trained at colleges such as Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal Academy of Music. All of the singers were surprisingly chatty; I know if I was in their shoes I’d be too nervous to chat away, but then again I guess they’re used to the audition process. However, one lady told me that just before an audition she still gets nervous, but she assured me that nerves can be a good thing. Having spent a brief time with each auditionee I begin to feel a sense of what it may be like to audition for an opera company. Rehearsal space can be an issue; you may find yourself warming up with two or three other singers in the same room and you have to be ready for the unexpected, not always knowing how many people you’ll be auditioning in front of. Combined with obvious nerves, I can imagine auditioning for an opera company to be both an anxious and an exciting experience.

One thing that was lovely to see was during the afternoon, as I was showing a singer the way out of the building, she bumped into an old friend whom she had trained with at the Royal Academy.  As they were catching up with each other I felt somewhat guilty having to separate them as I wanted to make sure auditions were kept to schedule. I soon came to find many other people auditioning recognised each other, some from previous auditions while some had even been up against one another at competitions.

As the day was drawing to an end I was thankful to have brought a bottle of water with me. I hadn’t quite realised how much exercise would be involved! Constantly running up and down stairs and through corridors had definately taken its toll on my feet. Although looking back, it had been a great workout! 

Kelly Donnellan

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