Opera: By Voice Alone offers singers the chance to take part in a major competition without the age limits, restrictions and requirements of many other contests. The first stage of our innovative competition had all applicants taking part in a blind audition ensuring they were judged By Voice Alone.
The biggest advantage to blind auditions is that the panel can’t make value judgements based on a piece of paper, a good school, a famous teacher, or an existing professional reputation. Many international orchestras have been selecting based on blind auditions since the 1970s; in the first instance, an effort to eliminate gender bias, but also to remove the barriers of race and class – usually indicated on paper by someone’s training (or formal lack thereof). Put up a screen, and all you have is the instrument. If someone can do the job, they can do the job.
From completing the first round of blind auditions, we've witnessed how positive such an inclusive project is. It speaks to all ages, all backgrounds and all levels of ability from those that sing for pleasure right through to those ready to step-out and sing leading roles with our major opera houses. We have some fantastic plans for the development of By Voice Alone in 2020 and we want you to be part of them.
We are excited that this has caught not only the industry's interest but also the nations. The opportunity is there for everyone to be heard in the same space – that equality of opportunity is beautiful. Some of those who have entered the competition find it difficult to get auditions for a variety of reasons. Some have contacted us to say that they expected nothing from the competition whatsoever, that they simply wanted to take part in the project, that they valued being heard and have found that the genuine expectation was that the panel wanted nothing from them other than to be the best they could be. With no barriers and no bias, we have the chance to not only foster the nations love of classical singing but also create a space to share knowledge and a support network for those making their professional journey to our stages and concert halls.
What makes our project great?
The opportunity to sing for the main opera houses, opera companies, choral societies, conductors and industry casting professionals will be a game-changer for some of our competitors. Daily life – not just professional life – is full of barriers. They’re there to a greater or lesser extent for all of us, but the uncomfortable truth is that for BAME or disabled or gay or working-class applicants, there’s a battle ahead. Connecting with new audiences, supporters and the industry is a key part of building a career in Opera, and this is difficult for many talented singers for a variety of reasons. By Voice Alone wants to break down these barriers and make our stages more reflective of our society.
By Voice Alone is not about causing even more exclusion and division by attempting to create diversity; the goal is to create diversity by providing that inclusivity, that equal space for all. We’re about the long game. We’re looking to improve knowledge and access to classical singing for all. This in turn should foster the general public’s interest in supporting the singers they come into contact with, and in opera as an artform. Our plans don’t stop here – we can’t wait to share the journey with you.
Who are we and what’s our experience?
By Voice Alone has been founded by Melanie Lodge, also the founder of Audition Oracle - the leading casting book for professional opera singers, classical artists and arts companies. The company is dedicated to helping singers find opportunities and establish long-term professional careers. The launch of this new competition is part of our ongoing commitment to bringing artists together with casting professionals and also to bring about a greater transparency to help singers understand where they are at and what they can do to help themselves develop as artists.
How is the money being spent?
Running a competition like this involves a crowd to make it happen. There are a lot of logistics involved and if we put the true cost of the competition in the application fees it would become prohibitively expensive for many talented singers. We’ve offered some bursary places for those singers who really need them and seed money has been donated by Audition Oracle. But it's still not enough and we have so many exciting plans for the future but we need your help to make it happen! The funds we raise will go towards the competition prize fund, the costs of running our inaugural competition and the onward development of By Voice Alone.
The only way to get an invite to our semi-final rounds, attended by industry professionals is to become a benefactor level sponsor or higher. This is a fantastic opportunity to hear more emerging and developed talent up close and personal. Ticket prices for the live final will increase after the Crowdfunder ends, so the only way to secure the early bird prices is to pledge your support here. Bring a friend and get free programmes, with your names in them!
FAQs Tickets will be for collection at the door.