Auditions are nerve-wracking from the get-go. You must be ready, give it your all, and show the judges the best you have to offer. When going to a singing audition, the music should showcase your range, tone, style, flair, and control. It should also be something you love to sing, can perform in your sleep, and know frontwards, backwards, and sideways. You have one chance to put your talent on the line, and picking the right song is the first step to nailing that audition.
Opera Audition Songs
When choosing repertoire for an opera audition, you should prepare a few different arias that you can perform perfectly ready to go. These pieces should be different styles, genres, speeds, and ranges. While it is often easier to sing in tune with piano accompaniment, singing a capella is also acceptable. There are a number of beautiful choices.
Un Bel di Vedremo
Un Bel di Vedremo (One Beautiful Day) from Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly is a beautiful and highly emotional aria for sopranos that has a range of an octave to an augmented 11th. Songs from Madame Butterfly are on many audition lists, and near the top of the Operabase list of most performed operas. This piece allows the singer to convey the love and emotion of Butterfly as she is sure her American husband will return to her one day. A tear-inducing piece to those listening, Un Bel di Vedremo helped gain Japanese opera-singer Tamaki Miura international recognition in the early 1900's. This can be sung a capella or with piano accompaniment. The sheet music is available at free-scores.com
Voi che Sapete
Voi che Sapete is from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, which, according to AXS contributor Diane Howard, is one of the most popular operas of all time. It is for mezzo soprano, with about an octave range. This is one of the most recognizable operas and has been used on the big and small screen. The piece is a standard part of an opera singer's repertoire. The character singing, Cherubino, is young and innocent and doesn't understand the feelings of love she is feeling. This song is fast paced, and will impress any director during auditions as it allows the singer to add expression and drama. The sheet music and a video of a performance can be found at music-for-music-teachers.com.
L'amour est un Oiseau Rebelle (Habañera)
L'amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habañera) from the opera Carmen by Bizet is one of the opera's most recognizable pieces, and has been played in movies, television, and radio. This piece is for mezzo soprano or alto and covers the range from D4 to F#5. This piece is impressive for lower voices to sing due to the F#5 being a difficult note for altos to hit consistently. A singer with good dynamic control and expressiveness should be able to win any audition. Vocalscores.co.uk has the sheet music for this piece.
O Paradis Sorti de L'onde
O Paradis sorti de L'onde from L'Africaine by Meyerbeer is a beautiful piece for tenor soloists. While not a typically standard piece, this showcases a broad range for the tenor and was sung by the renowned Luciano Pavarotti. It is also a challenging piece and impressive to hear. This can be found at sheetmusicplus.com.
Musical Theatre Audition Songs
When auditioning for musical theatre piece selection is crucial, as you must demonstrate both acting and singing abilities. Research the style of the musical and, if allowed, choose a song from its repertoire to show the director you are already prepared. If singing slow pieces, look for a diverse range of dynamics, while a fast piece should focus on enunciation and energy. Suggested pieces to show off your voice and expression include:
My Lord and Master
For a talented soprano that can hit a high Bb in head voice easily, My Lord and Master from The King and I is a great piece to show off your range, head voice, tone, control, and drama flair. This piece has been performed many times - recently by Kristin Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl. It's recommended to sing with accompaniment to avoid singing flat on the high notes. The sheet music for this piece is found on musicnotes.com.
Class from Chicago is a standard piece for alto duets. The song's lyrics contain a bit of strong language, but is meant to be sung wistfully at first, then belted at the end. It's a fun piece to sing, and it demonstrates how well you can sing and play off another singer. This duet was sung on the big screen by Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Amazon.com has many music books for Chicago.
A Cockeyed Optimist
From South Pacific comes a great tenor solo: A Cockeyed Optimist. This upbeat piece easily shows off a tenor's range and mixed voice. This piece impresses many judges when sung correctly, as it is known to be a challenging piece. Famous female singers Barbra Streisand and Julie Andrews have also sung this piece on stage. Sheet music for A Cockeyed Optimist can be found at Amazon.com.
Leaning on a Lampost
Leaning on a Lampost from Me and My Girl is a great selection for the baritone. While it is easy to sing, it is also full of character. This is a piece that shows off the baritone's range and humor. The lyrics and musical style bring a smile to listeners. The top note for this song is "E." Find the sheet music on SheetMusicDirect.
A Capella Audition Songs
A capella simply means without instrumentation, although singers in groups often use a vocalist to act as vocal drums. A capella can be easier to sing than an accompanied piece due to the flexibility the vocalist can have with tempo and dynamics. Songs that should remain a capella when auditioning for a vocal competition include:
The Star Spangled Banner
The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key, also known as The National Anthem, is often an opener at sporting events in the United States. Because it is so recognizable and well known, even the most unmusical listener can tell if the song has been performed properly which makes it a challenge, along with its octave and a 6th range. This song largely depends on singers knowing their limits for their low and high notes. If sung well, it's a dazzler. The piece can be found at Virtual Sheet Music for download.
Summertime, a jazz piece by George Gershwin, is a powerful song that can be sung by any vocalist. This soulful song starts off slowly then picks up pace. Fantasia Barrino, winner of Season 3 of American Idol, sang this song and brought judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and even Simon Cowell to tears. Those who can scat will do well with this piece. Free-scores.com has the sheet music for this piece and many other a capella songs.
Boy Band Audition Songs
When auditioning with a boy band, it's important to have a mixed range of voices but equal talent. It is usually expected for boy bands to incorporate choreography to show unity and how well they work together. When singing upbeat songs, the band must take care to enunciate together, and when singing soulful, harmonious songs, the band must be able to sing musically. Good options include:
I Swear sung by the group All 4 One is listed by Project Wedding as one of the most requested first-dance songs at weddings, and for a reason. This beautiful song blends the voices together musically with beautiful harmonies and solo singing. A capella singing of this tune provides an even more powerful idea of the group's dynamics and tone. Because of the complex harmonies and dissonance of many of the chords, this piece is impressive for a group that sings cohesively. The piano/vocal music can be found on musicnotes.com.
Quit Playing Games with My Heart
Quit Playing Games with My Heart was made popular by The Backstreet Boys and is a great song for boy band auditions, as it is soulful yet upbeat. The piece has many different background vocals and harmonies that showcase each individual voice. This has great potential for choreographed areas, and can be sung a capella with finger snaps and hand claps or a member playing chords on a guitar for added effect. You can find the sheet music at onlinesheetmusic.com.
TV Singing Competition Audition Songs
Auditioning for shows like American Idol and The Voice requires nerves of steel, a great voice, the ability to sing a capella, and the confidence to pull it off. For American Idol, a vocalist can try out using any song of their choice, but once passing through they must pick a song from the American Idol Experience Song List.
Colors of the Wind
Colors of the Wind from the movie Pocohontas is a great choice for a female singer, as the range is not too high or low. The intervals in the piece are challenging, and it needs to be sung in a smooth soulful manner. Belting out the end while controlling the volume is something judges look for in a vocalist. Find the sheet music and accompaniment on musicnotes.com.
Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody is an impressive piece for a male singer because it requires a large range, control, and the ability to sing different styles. The beginning of the piece is wistful, powerful, and soulful, while the ending is an operatic style. Judges know and understand how challenging this piece is and will look upon a vocalist favorably who can sing it well. Adam Lambert wowed the judges and America when he sang this, and ultimately won Season 8 of American Idol. This piece also works for a duet or trio. Find the music at queensongs.info.
Prepare for Your Audition
When auditioning for a part, go into the audition well prepared. Do not sing your piece too many times before the audition to save your voice, but keep running over the words and tune in a hum or whisper, and memorize, memorize, memorize!