Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Singer shares his secrets of hard work, passion and perseverance

Singer shares his secrets of hard work, passion and perseverance

A WELCOMING log fire on a chilly winter’s morning at the intimate Fawley Barn was the setting for Opera Prelude’s first lecture-recital of the year.

An enlightening account of the elusive art of auditioning provided a window into what a young professional singer faces on entering the profession.

Opera Awards Foundation bursary winner Ricardo Panela gave an honest and personal insight into “the most dreaded part of the profession — but the most necessary route to a job”.

The Portuguese-born baritone described his “audition journey” — from early choral beginnings in his village church choir, to experiences at the local music conservatoire, to surviving the music college experience in London, and finally entering the profession.

The talk was structured around the development of his audition pieces, which he performed throughout the lecture.

We learnt of the importance of choosing the right repertoire, preparing pieces for audition, dealing with rejection and feedback, and the politics of the audition process in the UK and abroad.

Panela drew us in with his fluent discourse and engaging performance style. A sensitive accompaniment was provided by Natalie Burch on piano.

Amusing anecdotes illustrated what can go wrong in an audition and here Panela had some practical advice for younger singers.

It is not enough to turn up on the day having prepared the singing repertoire. Better to learn something about the audition panel and try to anticipate what could go wrong — whether it’s a case of the pianist losing the score, having to wait several hours in an audition waiting room with no water, or getting lost on the way.

Panela pulled no punches, he told it as it is — the route into the performing arts is through sustained hard work with setbacks along the way.

His experiences, however, testified to the importance of perseverance, focus, and a passion for your subject. It also helps not to give up at the “first bump” — relevant for all of us whatever our occupation! Opera Prelude, meanwhile, has plans to reach out to a wider audience. The charity’s director, Fiona Hamilton, is increasingly aware of the challenges young singers face after leaving conservatoire, with the need to compete for a dwindling number of performance opportunities in the UK before they are ready to try to further their careers abroad.

This autumn, Opera Prelude hopes to extend its outreach remit by offering music students a series of practical workshops on subjects such as preparing audition repertoire, finding an agent, completing funding applications and improving communication skills — all vital skills for any singer hoping to have a professional career.

Watch this space.

Mandy Beard

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