Picking New Arias Part 3: Resources

So, now that you know what you’re looking for in a new aria where do you look?

Recommendations

This should be your first and primary stop when it comes to finding new rep. If you have a trusted voice teacher or coach with whom you have spent considerable time working, they will have an intimate knowledge of your voice, your strengths, weaknesses, and be able to make useful recommendations. If you are not coaching or taking lessons then find someone else! Here are some ideas of people who could make repertoire recommendations:

  • A professional performer in your area who is a similar voice type to you
  • The vocal coach of a nearby university
  • If possible, contact directors for whom you have auditioned and ask for feedback and recommendations

G. Schirmer Opera Anthology

These books are very popular among young singers and for good reason. These compilations have been compiled and edited by Robert Larson, a well-regarded opera coach, conductor, stage director, and founder of Des Moines Opera. They include a diverse sample of well-known and useful arias from across the repertoire as well as historical notes, plot synopses and translations. There are also “Diction Coach” books available that include IPA transcriptions and recordings of the text for each aria.

There are, however, some caveats to using arias found in the Opera Anthology books.

  • They are extremely popular and some of the arias get done by a lot of singers. There are some good stalwarts but your whole list will not stand out if they all come out of the anthology.
  • You should not be singing every aria in your anthology book. They represent a wide spectrum of opera arias and therefore a wide spectrum of singers. Make sure the aria fits before using it.

Aria-Database.com

The Aria Database is a crowdsourced database of over 1,200 operatic arias. Individual arias have their own page that includes information such as fach, range, tessitura, and frequently translations. The site also has a sophisticated search function that allows you to search for arias using many different criteria – voice type, range, composer, language. Since the database is crowdsourced the quality of the information is good, but not great. It represents one persons opinion who may or may not be an authority on operatic repertoire. For example, it lists the role of Mozart’s Don Giovanni as a dramatic baritone role when the case could be made that it is more of a lyric baritone role. As always, take the information with a grain of salt.

Wolf Trap Opera Aria Lists

Wolf Trap Opera is a summer residency program for young artists in Vienna, VA. They are unique in that they cast the entire season with young artists. Director Kim Witman is a prolific blogger about all things opera and one of the great things she has done is compiled lists of all of the arias offered by singers that audition for Wolf Trap each season – and how frequently they were offered, sung, or requested. This is truly an invaluable resource in finding out what other singers are using, what arias are being over-used, and for finding interesting new repertoire. I have found several arias from perusing these lists and I am sure you can as well. Ms. Witman has also written two very helpful and interesting series of blog posts of her thoughts and opinions regarding auditioning. It’s fascinating to hear about auditions from someone sitting on the other side of the casting table – definitely a worthwhile read.

IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library

IMSLP.org is a crowdsourced, wikipedia style, online library of over 230,000 scanned music scores. I wouldn’t suggest trying to find new arias by browsing through all of the information stored there, but it is a great resource for finding the music to something without taking a trip to a local music library or purchasing a score. Caution, the site makes no claim and accepts no liability in regards to obeying copyright laws for any country –  besides Canada it seems. So, if you are taking an aria for a test drive for your own personal use I wouldn’t be concerned. But, if you are downloading a score for a professional performance you probably want to play it safe and purchase a copy.

Those are all of the best resources that I use for finding new arias to fill out my package. I would love to hear if you have other ideas on where to find new arias and repertoire.

This also concludes my series on finding new arias, I hope you enjoyed my posts and keep an eye out for more topics in the future!

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