Come to our audition. We have no vacancies and won’t pay expenses

Come to our audition. We have no vacancies and won’t pay expenses


norman lebrecht

June 17, 2018

Theater Bremen has announced an audition for ‘professional singers from all over the world’.

The Theater Bremen (Bremen Opera House) is opening its doors for the first time to professional singers from all over the world, giving everybody the chance to audition! Any professional singer can present themselves to the Music director and the Artistic Directors with a repertoire of their own choice.

The dates:
25.6.2018 – 27.6.2018

The location:
Theater BremenBremen, Germany

The rules:
Any singer of any voice type can participate at their own risk. The theatre doesn’t cover any travel or accommodation costs, and no guarantee is given as per whether the candidate will sing on the main stage or in a rehearsal hall, as well as per how much time the jury will allocate. The candidates will be notified a few days in advance at what time and in which hall they will audition.

The candidates can choose their own repertoire.

If you would like to audition, please send your application, including repertoire and your preferred date to:

Sieglinde Voß, Artistic Office

One of our readers impertinently asked if there were any roles he/she should be preparing. The reply from Ms Voss: ‘The auditions are open calls. We do not audition for our season repertoire. We are just giving everybody the chance to audition.’

And you wonder why singers feel abused.


  • John Rook says:

    Strange timing. Late June is not audition season in Germany and I’d be surprised if many would travel to Bremen on the off-chance of success. Had they put scheduled it in October or November they might have attracted more decent candidates already doing audition tours.

  • Wiebke Göetjes says:

    Nothing new, happens all the time..and was already happening in my beginning time (1992) and before…”informeles Vorsingen”, meaning : “we don’t need anyone, we are just scouting the market”…

    Could even be an audition for pianists instead of singers, so they just use the singers to test the pianists.

    Audition season is during the whole year nowadays, in former days it would be fall and mid winter because they wanted to fill in the open vacancies. Fest contracts in Germany are prolongated or cancelled by the 31st of October, so that’s when they know who’s leaving at the end of the season and which vacancy needs to be filled.
    Most houses now have less money and the tend to wait longer until they have to release their programms for the next season (usually feb/march) and see if they really need that vacancy filled of could do with a single guest for a certain role.
    I scored most of my engagements in late spring…

  • Tee says:

    Very vague doesnt evwn say what kind of genre singer they want Is it an opera singer they want? They need to give at least some undication

  • Bruce says:

    Does any orchestra or opera, anywhere, ever pay expenses for people to come & audition?

    Seems they are quite up-front and open about the fact that, as “Wiebke Göetjes” says, they are just scouting the market. If I were an aspiring singer (and could afford to go), I would love a chance like this. I like the implied idea that “we’re not looking for anyone, but if you make a good impression, we might keep you in mind for next-next season, or as a replacement, or for a small role we haven’t filled yet.”

    Some orchestras have open auditions for their substitute list, with the same idea: nothing is guaranteed, but something could come up. Lots of people show up, and sometimes people are hired months later (“one of our 2nd violins broke his arm in a bicycle accident — can you come to rehearsal tomorrow?”).

  • william osborne says:

    + Germany gets to call the shots, since it has almost as many opera performances per year as Russia, the USA, Italy, Austria, and France combined.

    + Germany has 4.3 times as many opera performances per year as the USA, even though the USA has 4 times the population. Germany has 7.4 times as many opera performances per year as the UK.

    + New York City is no longer even in the top ten cities for opera performances per year.

    + Germany has 30 cities among the top 100 for opera performances per year. The USA has only 3, 1/10th the number. These are NYC at 12, Chicago at 80, and San Francisco just squeaks in at 100.

    Stats are from Operabase. Americans, amidst much throat clearing, tell us that numbers don’t mean a thing….

    • william osborne says:

      Boston, our great city of culture and learning, comes in at 250.

    • william osborne says:

      Some recent photos of the abandoned ruin of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera house can be seen here:

      • Greg Hlatky says:

        The last Republican mayor of Philadelphia left office on January 7, 1952.

        • HugoPreuss says:

          Gimme a break, this is not about partisan politics. Both Democrats and Republicans have been terrible when it comes to a proper funding of cultural venues and events.BTW, if you want to play partisan games, you should acknowledge that Republicans have tried to kill the National Endowment for the Arts and defund the arts forever now. The Democrats are terrible, but Republicans are even worse.

        • jaypee says:

          Go back to fox “news”, trumpanzee.

    • william osborne says:

      Read about the demise and destruction of the Boston Opera House here:

      The building, which had renowned accoustics, was so solidly built it took three different demolition companies before one could tear it down. It was only through political corruption that the permits for destroying the building were obtained. The violence to culture in the USA knows no limits and we live with the results today, but this is something Americans are unwilling to face.

      • Greg Hlatky says:

        The last Republican mayor of Boston left office on January 6, 1930.

        • william osborne says:

          “They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side, but no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.”
          — Huey Long

          • Greg Hlatky says:

            If I were you, I wouldn’t use Huey Long as an exemplar of anything, except as an early example of progressives silencing opponents, setting up a corrupt organization and making noises on behalf of the poor while becoming filthy rich in the process.

          • william osborne says:

            Sure his name isn’t Donald? As things stand now, only a simpleton would think one party or the other is the solution…..

        • william osborne says:

          And this one minute clip is even better:

        • jaypee says:

          Go back to fox “news”, trumpanzee.

    • Lausitzer says:

      And audience members here in Germany use to wonder why all these American singers come to us. Because no one would assume that the situation in the USA is so dire.

      • william osborne says:

        Very true. It is almost a professional requirement for American opera singers to go to Germany to try to find work. They go there, have no work permits, and often live in terrible poverty and suffering while trying to find a job. It is a disgrace that the USA forces its musicians to become economic refugees.

        We have many good music schools, and some huge. Indiana University and Juilliard produce very good opera singers almost factory style. And yet these schools do nothing to advocate for a decent public arts funding system in the USA like the Europeans have. The USA ranks 39th in the world for opera performances per capita, behind almost European country except the most impoverished.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Umm…why does it matter that the US does not perform much opera? While I enjoy opera, I don’t see why others should be forced to “enjoy” it if they are not interested. So what if opera is something the Germans wish to subsidize, and that is great for them and great for those who like opera. But that doesn’t mean civilization will end if the US doesn’t share a passion for opera. [And if you widened to requirement to “musical theatre” how would the figures look then?]

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Maybe the reason Germany, in addition to state funding, can afford to produce more operas than the USA is because they mostly produce cheap , trashy shows without decent sets or costumes. In the USA opera going public still expect ( although get less and less) a complete performance, musically excellent and visually beautiful . And that costs a coin.

    • Tamino says:

      I bet you don‘t even know what is going on in German opera houses on a regular base.
      You are one of these typical lazy mind loud mouth ignorant Americans, who thinks his or her opinion counts, just because.

      • Ms.Melody says:

        Tamino, I didn’t know it was necessary to resort to rudeness and name calling to make a point. I am well aware of what goes on in Germany, and so are the Germans. Just read the contributions .I am neither loud ,nor lazy, nor American. You on the other hand, are not polite

  • Ms.Melody says:

    The reason Germany has so many opera performances is manyfold:
    1.Almost every small city in Germany has an orchestra and an opera theatre
    2.Arts are heavily subsidised by the state.
    3.Most performances presented today in Germany are cheap, trashy, regie productions. I laugh when I see that there was actually a costume designer and set designer listed in the credits, as ” costumes” can be easily in charity shops.
    In the USA opera going public still expects ( although gets to see less and less)
    a complete visually splendid and musically excellent performance.
    So, maybe in this case, less is more.

    • william osborne says:

      True about the proliferation of houses and subsides. A couple days ago I saw Achim Freyer’s delightful production of Der Freischutz in Stuttgart. It was premiered in 1980 and is so beloved it’s still running 38 years later. I had seats in the fourth row four about 1/5th what they would have cost at the Met or Santa Fe.There are a wide range of productions in Germany, not just ‘trashy’ ones, whatever that means. They try to find a good mix.

      The large houses usually employ about 800 people, including not only costume designers, but also shoe makers, and even armour makers. To see the value of costumes to production concepts, check out some photos of the Freyer production I mention. A little different than amateurs bying clothes at second hand shops.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      The quality of the analysis is amazing. Yes, you are absolutely right. Germany has many opera performances bc there are many opera houses, and there are many opera houses bc they are funded by local, state, and federal authorities. Brilliant, Sherlock. That is precisely it.
      As for the staging: has it ever occurred to you that if you are able to watch, lets say, three different opera houses doing the Magic Flute or Tosca within a one hour drive – perhaps some people *want* to see different stagings? As a rule I found American stagings boring, even though the music was superb (Met, Chicago Lyric are the ones I know best). Always the same glamour and glitter, never a new idea. I am aware that the donors to American opera (“average age: deceased”) prefer conservative productions. But if you can attend some of the more popular operas every year in a different house in close vicinity, as is the case in Germany, you don’t want to see the same production year after year. It does not matter if you visit the opera once every ten years, but if you are an avid opera aficionado – well, I for one welcome the variety wholeheartedly. I despise stage directors who are so devoid of anything to tell me that I could basically do the staging myself.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        him: Honey, which “Tosca” would like to go see tonight?

        here: Oh, I don’t know – maybe the S&M one with the chains and whips.

        him: That’s soooo yesterday. I’m over that.

        her: Maybe I’m in the mood for the one where everybody is singing from inside clear plastic boxes.

        him: How ’bout the one where the whole thing is staged inside of a Jack in the Box?!”

        her: Sold!

      • Bylle Binder says:

        Unfortunately a lot of German opera houses indeed mostly make trashy regie theatre. I’m from Stuttgart and from a family of opera lovers. As I was a child (in the sixties) we had 12 opera subscriptions in the family. My grandparents, my parents and four (out of five – and the one lived offroad) of my mother’s sisters plus husband kept subscription. When one of them couldn’t go to a certain date, they mostly needed only one call and someone in the family (mostly me) took over the ticket.
        And what great productions we got to see! Erich Kleiber as musical director of the Grosses Haus (the opera house in Stuttgart), singers like Wolfgang Windgassen, Lotte Lehmann, Sandor Konya, Willy Domgraf-Fassbaender (the father of Brigitte), Otto Rohr. It was the great time of the Stuttgart opera with Wieland Wagner naming it “my Winter Bayreuth” and Orff doing his first nights there.
        In the 80ties my family still kept a lot of subscription, but they’d already started to nag and to complain about some of the boring regie theatre they got to see (I was the happy one during this time. I got to hear them – mostly out of the pit when doing substituting for my bassoon teacher).
        Yet the more the regie theatre took over in Stuttgart, the less my family wanted to go into the opera. First they quit the opera subscription for the “mixed abos” – meaning 12 tickets a year, but not only for opera, but for concert and speaking theatre too.
        In 1995 my parents had long quitted their subscription, nevertheless my mother and I were tree times in the opera – with the tickets of an aunt who by now said she’d hate what the Stuttgart Opera does. As I moved my mother took twice her oldest grandson with her in the opera – and then she gave up, too.
        By now no one in the family keeps a subscription anymore and in 2017 I was only once in the opera (a friend was singing as a guest there). Mostly I get already enough by seeing a trailer in tv – ugly states, ugly costumes, idiotic concepts and by now even the orchestra not up to the standard one was used to, anymore. And the worst thing: The Stuttgart opera certainly isn’t one of the poor, little houses in Germany. It’s still one of the big (and by the way: It’s a very beautiful house with great accustics), only people don’t want to see their boring regie trash anymore. It’s always the same and it’s terribly boring to see the next “taboo break” (yaaaaaaaaawn) and have another director explaining for half one hour what he thought about some unimportant detail. And I especially hate if someone explains to me his idea was “to get the audience to think”. Thank you very much, but I’m even able to think without one of these super intellectuals telling me when and how I’ve got to do it. I loathe the arrogance with whom these people take the booos as a compliment because – so one told me once – they don’t expect to be “understood by the plebs”.

      • Ms.Melody says:

        The production does not need to be shocking, pornographic or radical to be different, but it needs to make sense. When actions on stage contradict words and music, the effect is jarring . one of the contributors correctly pointed out that if the production needs to be explained on many pages to an educated adult, it is not a success. However, modern directors do not trust the music and the public to understand and feel the work. There own personal expressions somehow become more important.

  • Sue says:

    I would never want to belong to a club that would have somebody like me as a member.

  • Anonymous says:

    One thing to be pointed out here is that this seems to be a direct approach to singers.

    A big reason for this shift is that in Germany the house pays the agent’s commission either entirely or in part if the agent has introduced the singer to the house.

    In this instance, no agents are needed for an open call. And if an artist auditions without an agent and an agent proposes them in the future, then there is no need for commission to be paid by the house.

    Now, I’m not denying that there are now an awful lot of agents out there who do nothing but keep artists’ details on file. Agents who have little idea of how singers sing, how often they should sing and what repertoire they should sing. That’s one of the biggest reasons why opera’s in the mess it is.

    However, there are still educated, sophisticated agents out there who aim to take great care of their singers. They protect them. They stop an opera house putting them into repertoire that will ruin them (and you’d be surprised how often opera houses try to do this). And they’re being driven out of business by tactics like this.

  • Potkorook says:

    I would love to be able to go, just to test my voice against professional singers. Mind you, I doubt I would get very far in an opera house on a repertoire of Bob Dylan, Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Chills, the Cure, and the like (including Goldenhorse’s brilliant Northern Lights: it’s got elements of Allen Ginsberg’s style), but it would be fun to try.

  • Hi guys 🙂 Though being an article from last year, I must strongly object to the way this initiative from Theater Bremen is being viewed.

    I was one of the singers auditioning – it was 3rd time lucky for me, so my audition was in June 2019 as they insisted on hearing every singer that upheld the deadline.

    Getting a chance to audition at Theater Bremen, I felt anything BUT abused; is the only A-house I have ever heard of that actually invites singers to so called informative/general auditions which means that allthough all roles may have been cast, they still take interrest in hearing other singers for future productions.

    In 99,99% of cases: If you contact an opera house you hear nothing back – Theater Bremen took the next step and actually opened their doors to singers to give those without the right CV/represetation a chance.

    For my part I got quite good feedback, but more importantly a real chance to re/present myself which NEVER happens. I might even have gotten a foot in.

    I must say am a bit puzzled to say the least in regards to how this story could has ended up being a negative one. If you think THIS is abuse, you wouldn’t want to know the way things usually works in the world of opera.

    I wish that other theatres could be be inspired to do the same thing.

    Kind regards, Ingeborg Børch (mezzo soprano)