|Münster Town Hall today|
|Münster Town Hall, 1944|
minutes before the gable fell
|Münster's modern theater |
viewed through the facade
When I auditioned in Münster about four years ago, I put up the usual opera singer’s “facade” -- basic black with a flash of color, standard repertoire, polite demeanor, etc. I remember that I sang rather well, and after I was done they asked me, almost as if measuring the gable in front of the Town Hall, “Frau Graham, how tall are you?” Apparently, they had a short tenor.
Opera is an art form which has been around for centuries, and it is also one very reluctant to change. So it is no wonder that we put up our facades to try to emulate what we think might be expected of us. We beef up our résumés to make us look as experienced as the singer next to us. We dye our gray hairs to appear the same age as the singer next to us. We wear heels or flats to adjust our height. We hide our special, individual talents -- like baking, writing, singing silly songs, or even having other jobs -- to make us seem like ‘serious’ artists. We try to keep ourselves lined up with concerts so we appear busy, giving off the impression that we are in high demand and therefore better than all the rest.
I got the chance to audition in Münster again, just four weeks ago. The piece being cast is brand new - a world premiere - and they needed someone in a hurry. Luckily, I was available. Already I tore down my first facade of looking busy. For some reason, maybe because I had to get up so early, I couldn’t be assed to wear my usual audition garb, so I wore a wacky print dress. Second facade down. For the train ride up there, I wore casual red boots and had my basic black pumps in my bag to change into shortly before going on stage. In the middle of my first aria, I realized I had forgotten to change my shoes. Oops, third strike. As I stepped on the stage and looked out into the modern hall and its purple upholstered seats, I exclaimed, “Oh! Purple is my favorite color!” instead of “My name is... and I’d like to sing... .” Surely my cover was blown by then at the latest. The only facade I had left was one of courage, masking my actual scared-shitlessness.
Perhaps a bit perplexed by my demeanor and attire, the panel nevertheless listened to my first selection, then invited me to stay for the second round. In their search for someone to perform this brand new work in this modern theater, I suppose my “facade” (or lack of one) built on a solid foundation of talent, technique and experience, was exactly the one they were looking for.
The premiere of “Timeshift” is December 4, subsequent performances on December 7th, January 14th, February 29th, and March 11th. Be sure and plan enough time to explore and view the gables of Münster!