24 burning questions



FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start planning an audition tour to Germany, Switzerland and Austria?
Should I write letters before I come over?
Do I need a German address?
How can I get a German address? How do I find accommodation?
Where is the best place to stay?
Who are the important agents to sing for?
Why do I need more than one agent?
Do I have to bring a pianist?
When is the best time to come over for auditions?
How long should I stay?
I live in the UK (or other EU countries). Do I need to stay around in Germany for auditions?
How much German do I need to know?
What is the difference between "Gast-" and "Fest" - contracts?
How much do Fest Solo contracts pay? (Festvertrag)
But surely I get more money that the chorus member next to me?!
How much do Guest contracts (Gastvertrag) pay?
How much do I get out / net income?
How much is a flat or apartment in Germany?
Can I make a living with singing in Germany anyway?
Do I need a work permit?
What is my German Fach (voice category)?
Why do I need to know what my Fach is?
What is the required audition repertoire?
Which audition repertoire suits me best when auditioning in Germany?
What is the dress code in German auditions?
How important are looks and age and voice in German auditions?
What do I do first after I arrived in Germany?
How great are my chances of finding work as a soloist?


Do these questions sound familiar?

How do I start planning an audition tour to Germany, Switzerland and Austria?
Should I write letters before I come over?
Where do I find addresses of agents and theatres?
To whom should I write?
Do I need a German/European address?
How can I get a German address?
How do I find affordable accomodation?
Where is the best place to stay?
Who are the important agents to sing for?
Why do I need more than one agent?
When is the best time to come over for auditions?
How long should I stay?
How much German will I need to know?
What is the difference between "Fest" and "Gast" contracts?
How much do these contracts pay?
Do I need a work permit and how do I get it?
How much money can I make singing in Germany anyway?
What is my German "Fach"?
Why do I need to know this?
What is the required audition repertoire in my Fach?
Which repertoire suits me best when auditioning in Germany?
What is the dress-code for auditioning in Germany?
How important are voice, looks and age in German auditions ?
What are the differences between the American and European Opera business?
Last, not least: How great are my chances?

If you want realistic, balanced and accurate answers to these and other questions, talk to Ursula! mailto:ursula.taylor@vivacearts.de
Vivace Arts wants your career to happen. We want you to be successful. Our aim is, to optimize your your trip to Europe.
Ursula does not act as an agent. She focuses on the consulting, profiling and career-support.

home (Auditioning in Europe)
Home (VicaceArts)

How do I start planning an audition tour to Germany, Switzerland and Austria?
You should allow 2-6 months preparation time. Check your knowledge of the German language, and take classes, if possible. It will add to your “ranking” in an audition if you know what they mean when they say: “und Sie sind…?” or “was möchten Sie singen?” During this time you can send emails or letters to the agents, maybe find a place to stay in Germany, or at least, a postal address. You should check your German Repertoire with a native speaker. Watch out for the differences between the “u” and “ü”, like in “schwul” (means: gay) and schwül (means hot/humid weather). If you dont’ speak German, but sing 2 Arias in beautiful, perfect German, you can make a big point. Don’t forget, Germany has more that 200 Opera Houses, and most of them will do most of their Repertoire in German! You might get hired to sing Tosca and Lohengrin in one house, both in German. Also, they rehearse in German and please be prepared tho deal with people not willing or not able to communicate with you in English - these people expect you to be able to communicate with them in their language.

Should I write letters before I come over?
Yes, you should. (see Nr. 1): You can write to the agents on the hotlist that I can provide you with. And do get back to them once you are in Germany. Also, you can write to opera houses directly. Check out our links to lists of opera houses here. The addresses of all opera houses you can find in the Deutsche Bühnen-Jahrbuch , ISSN 0070-4431. This is a helpful book to have, it has all the names of the people who work in all German theatres in it. Good, big libraries have it. You can buy it for about 75€. at the www.buehnengenossenschaft.de. Most addresses you will find on the bühnenverein-website, too (look at our link list)
The opinions regarding the success of these house-applications vary, though. You might write 100 letters, and maybe get 5 auditions out of this, most of them will be informative. Yet I have heard of people who got auditions with the some really big houses such as the Vienna State Opera by writing letters....that is the exception though. If you get an invitation, its usually basically an "informative" audition, which means there is no job right now. View list of Opera houses.

Do I need a German address?
Yes, ideally you should have an European address, and especially a (German) (mobile) phone number. Buy one for about 75-90 € including a number. Vodafone: "call Ya", t-com, O2, or just buy a chipcard (Tel-number) at the supermarket ALDI, LIDL etc. for 10-20 €

How can I get a German address? How do I find accommodation?
check out our Links here Find a friend of a friend etc. as a cover address.
And definitely bring your “Rough Guide” or something similar for the short audition trips within Europe, where you have to stay out overnight.

Where is the best place to stay?
Berlin is cool and it is surprisingly cheap. New Yorkers say it feels like home.
Munich is nice – and closer to Italy and Austria, but flats and living are definitely more expensive. Somewhere in the middle of Germany, like Frankfurt (expensive), might work for you, as its easy to get to all sorts of audition places from there. You will be going by train a lot. Flying is getting constantly cheaper within central Europe, thanks to Ryanair, Easyjet etc, and is very often cheaper than going by train.

To give you a clue: Hamburg is North, Munich South, Berlin East, Düsseldorf and Cologne West . And the agents and houses are everywhere! You should prefer a city with ICE trains going in and out. These fast trains might spare you several hotel nights.

Who are the important agents to sing for?
Contact and vivacearts for crutial individual advice - a commented Agents list for 60 EUR.

Do I need more than one agent?
Yes, you sure do, unless you end up with a top-top agent. And those agents tend to not hold (open) auditions. Generally: European agents do not "represent" you in the American sense. Usually, 50% of their fee is paid by the theatres, when a contract comes through. The other 50 % will be paid by you, AFTER the contract with the opera house has been signed. So agents will send you out without charging you. They charge a percentage of up to 15% of your gross income after you signed a contract with a house through them. Therefore, to spread your risk, you should “work” with several agents. Don’t tell them unless you have to (in case they offer an audition you already got from another agent). Agents are jealous.

Do I have to bring a pianist?
No. Agents will provide you with a pianist in an audition. They will charge betweeen €25 and €40 for the pianist and the room. Opera houses always provide pianists, too, for free. DO NOT bring your own pianist - this is considered unprofessional, believe it or not. They do want to know how you handle the arias you bring in an unrehearsed situation.

When is the best time to come over for auditions?
I know, you all desperately hope for a simple answer here. But there isn't. Jobs tend to come in at all times now. There is, however, a summerbreak between July and September. October-December is busy - but so is January to April. Last minute jobs may come on the market in June...

How long should I stay?
Stay as long as you can! If you come over for 4 weeks or even less, you may have bad luck and there might be absolutely nothing going on in your Fach at that time. If you stay for less than 6 weeks, you should probably better lie about this to the agents, just to make sure to get into their list, and not be ignored for this reason. I know, this is fiancially very hard news for you.

How much German do I need to know?
(see below for a typical dialogue in an audition)
As much as possible. Big cheese agents don’t hold open auditions officially. They deal with big international houses who do everything in original language, and may hire lots of guests. Here your German may be poor. Most agents who do hold auditions, generally work with midsized and smaller houses, who might do a lot of their repertoire in German, including dialogues in German Operettas. Having good German and being able to communicate can be very important here.

What is the difference between “Gast-” and “Fest” – contracts?
A Gast (guest) contract is a contract for one Role in one Production. You will rehearse up to 8 weeks (yes, no kidding), then followed by single shows (anything between 4 and maybe 18… often spread over one or two seasons). A Fest contract is a contract that you sign normally for 2 seasons. In your contract they will write “Bariton” or “Soubrette” or “lyrischer Mezzo” or "Tenor"etc. They will make you sing several roles throughout the year (usually 2 exactly being your Fach, the so called “Fachpartien”+ several others) and pay you a monthly fee, health insurance, etc. You will be part of the Ensemble of the house and you will have to live in that city.

Agents will ask you whether you are interested in both. The best answer is: yes. You can always say no to an audition or an offer later on.

How much do these contracts pay? oh well...
Wages go down rather than up in the last 10 years or so. Usually as a soloist you will earn much less than the average German income before taxes, which is 2900 EUR per month before tax. Be prepared for 2000 to 2500 EUR. Beginners get 1650 EUR before tax. A note: in most opera houses the fest soloist makes less money than the chorus member next to him on stage! Guest roles pay anything between 400 EUR (small house) to.... several thousands. Many houses pay around 1000 EUR before tax per show. Please keep in mind that the 8 weeks rehearsal period usually pays between 1500 and 2500 before tax- in total.

How much do I get out / net income?
Depends on the sum, but usually you get out a little more than half of your gross income. Health insurance is paid for in this deal, and so is pension and income tax.

How much is a flat or apartment in Germany?

That depends on the city, and the size of the room/flat. Munich is expensive, Berlin is cheap. Be prepared to pay 200-300 € when sharing a flat, and find a (furnished) flat from 400 € onwards. In east Germany flats may be cheaper than this. Check out our Linklist for "Mitwohnzentrale"etc.

How much money can I make with singing in Germany anyway?
If you have a nice festcontract AND additionally go guesting with leading roles, you can make a living.

Do I need a work permit?
Yes, if you are from the US you do need a work permit in Germany. Opera houses have to apply for it and go through
this for you.

What is my German Fach?
This is something we can only discuss personally as part of a consultation and its very important for the German speaking Opera market. The Fach is a big thing in German speaking countries, since it has to do with the traditional (fest-) contract-system. If they ask you in a Fest contract to sing something which is out of your fach – they might have to pay you extra cash for each show! The Fach system has a few good points, too, you see.

Why do I need to know what my Fach is?
Vacancies for Fest contracts are often only described with the Fach word. Houses may not tell the agent which roles are to be cast, but only say: “we want a “lyrischer Sopran” for 2 Seasons. Its annoying for the singer, not to know the exact roles, but this is how its often done. The best thing is to know exactly what the German System means with the Fach. In this case, for a lyric Soprano (in the German sense), Pamina (in perfect German) is a must to bring to the audition, and maybe Susanna, or Mimi. But not Tosca or Butterfly.

What is the required audition repertoire?
That depends on your Fach, and needs to be talked over individually. Offering the right repertoire in auditions will raise your chances of being sucessful in an audition immensely! There are a couple of standard audition arias in English speaking countries, that will not get you anything over here.

Which audition repertoire suits me best when auditioning in Germany?
We can clarify that in a personal consultation. We can also do this over the phone/by email after you sent some soundclips and some photos.

What is the dress code in German auditions?
The dresscode is a more relaxed one compared to US standards, and definitely more casual. Men don’t have to show up in a suit and tie, but they can. A nice shirt, with dark trousers or even Jeans, for example, will do, too.Sneakers for men: that’s going a bit too far, but you might get away with it, if you are goodlooking. Generally agents auditions are more relaxed in terms of dresscodes, since they happen in daylight, and many times, in dodgy offices. For the women: no (long) evening or concert dress. There is a relatively high acceptance for individual clothing. But tastes vary, of course. What your best personal choices are we can clarify in a personal audition meeting.

How important are looks and age and voice in German auditions?
That may vary from house to house and from agent to agent. But generally looks and age count a lot. Type cast is a fashion here, and being young and slim (or looking like it) are important. Stage directors are powerful people in opera houses in Europe, and they generally seem to prefer slim, young, goodlooking singers, that are ready and able to do modern "European" staging, actor-like. Being overweight can be a serious NoNo. However, if you dont look like a movie-star, you can still be very sucessful over here, too. Let's discuss this personally, needs and tastes vary a lot regarding each Fach. mailto:info@vivacearts.de

What do I do first after I arrived in Germany?
Find a place to stay and an address. Buy a German mobile phone (called "prepaid" Handy), and contact us for a consultation session in Berlin mailto:info@vivacearts.de

How great are my chances of finding work as a soloist?
Crutial question, had to answer from my side. But its NOT easier over here than it is in your own country! Sorry that this sounds like I want to scare you off - no, I don't, but I try to be honest with you and realistic about the facts. It is a huge crowded "meat" market in German speaking countries and competition is hard.

Best of luck, hope to hear from you,
kind regards,

Ursula
Ursula Taylor, COEwww.vivacearts.de




 



Typical dialogue in auditions

Questiones asked by the agents/house:

was haben Sie mitgebracht? - What have you got?
Was wollen Sie singen? - What do you want to sing?
Was möchten Sie denn singen? - What do you want to sing?
Was singen Sie? - What will you sing?
Womit möchten Sie beginnen? - What do you want to begin with?
Was haben Sie noch? - What else do you have?
Und Sie sind- And you are...?





How do I start planning an audition tour to Germany, Switzerland and Austria?
Should I write letters before I come over?
Where do I find addresses of agents and theatres?
To whom should I write?
Do I need a German/European address?
How can I get a German address?
How do I find affordable accomodation?
Where is the best place to stay?
Who are the important agents to sing for?
Why do I need more than one agent?
When is the best time to come over for auditions?
How long should I stay?
How much German will I need to know?
What is the difference between "Fest" and "Gast" contracts?
How much do these contracts pay?
Do I need a work permit and how do I get it?
How much money can I make singing in Germany anyway?
What is my German "Fach"?
Why do I need to know this?
What is the required audition repertoire in my Fach?
Which repertoire suits me best when auditioning in Germany?
What is the dress-code for auditioning in Germany?
How important are voice, looks and age in German auditions ?
What are the differences between the American and European Opera business?
Last, not least: How great are my chances?

If you want realistic, balanced and accurate answers to these and other questions, talk to Ursula! mailto:ursula.taylor@vivacearts.de
Vivace Arts wants your career to happen. We want you to be successful. Our aim is, to optimize your your trip to Europe.
Ursula does not act as an agent. She focuses on the consulting, profiling and career-support.

home (Auditioning in Europe)
Home (VicaceArts)

How do I start planning an audition tour to Germany, Switzerland and Austria?
You should allow 2-6 months preparation time. Check your knowledge of the German language, and take classes, if possible. It will add to your “ranking” in an audition if you know what they mean when they say: “und Sie sind…?” or “was möchten Sie singen?” During this time you can send emails or letters to the agents, maybe find a place to stay in Germany, or at least, a postal address. You should check your German Repertoire with a native speaker. Watch out for the differences between the “u” and “ü”, like in “schwul” (means: gay) and schwül (means hot/humid weather). If you dont’ speak German, but sing 2 Arias in beautiful, perfect German, you can make a big point. Don’t forget, Germany has more that 200 Opera Houses, and most of them will do most of their Repertoire in German! You might get hired to sing Tosca and Lohengrin in one house, both in German. Also, they rehearse in German and please be prepared tho deal with people not willing or not able to communicate with you in English - these people expect you to be able to communicate with them in their language.

Should I write letters before I come over?
Yes, you should. (see Nr. 1): You can write to the agents on the hotlist that I can provide you with. And do get back to them once you are in Germany. Also, you can write to opera houses directly. Check out our links to lists of opera houses here. The addresses of all opera houses you can find in the Deutsche Bühnen-Jahrbuch , ISSN 0070-4431. This is a helpful book to have, it has all the names of the people who work in all German theatres in it. Good, big libraries have it. You can buy it for about 75€. at the www.buehnengenossenschaft.de. Most addresses you will find on the bühnenverein-website, too (look at our link list)
The opinions regarding the success of these house-applications vary, though. You might write 100 letters, and maybe get 5 auditions out of this, most of them will be informative. Yet I have heard of people who got auditions with the some really big houses such as the Vienna State Opera by writing letters....that is the exception though. If you get an invitation, its usually basically an "informative" audition, which means there is no job right now. View list of Opera houses.

Do I need a German address?
Yes, ideally you should have an European address, and especially a (German) (mobile) phone number. Buy one for about 75-90 € including a number. Vodafone: "call Ya", t-com, O2, or just buy a chipcard (Tel-number) at the supermarket ALDI, LIDL etc. for 10-20 €

How can I get a German address? How do I find accommodation?
check out our Links here Find a friend of a friend etc. as a cover address.
And definitely bring your “Rough Guide” or something similar for the short audition trips within Europe, where you have to stay out overnight.

Where is the best place to stay?
Berlin is cool and it is surprisingly cheap. New Yorkers say it feels like home.
Munich is nice – and closer to Italy and Austria, but flats and living are definitely more expensive. Somewhere in the middle of Germany, like Frankfurt (expensive), might work for you, as its easy to get to all sorts of audition places from there. You will be going by train a lot. Flying is getting constantly cheaper within central Europe, thanks to Ryanair, Easyjet etc, and is very often cheaper than going by train.

To give you a clue: Hamburg is North, Munich South, Berlin East, Düsseldorf and Cologne West . And the agents and houses are everywhere! You should prefer a city with ICE trains going in and out. These fast trains might spare you several hotel nights.

Who are the important agents to sing for?
Contact and vivacearts for crutial individual advice - a commented Agents list for 60 EUR.

Do I need more than one agent?
Yes, you sure do, unless you end up with a top-top agent. And those agents tend to not hold (open) auditions. Generally: European agents do not "represent" you in the American sense. Usually, 50% of their fee is paid by the theatres, when a contract comes through. The other 50 % will be paid by you, AFTER the contract with the opera house has been signed. So agents will send you out without charging you. They charge a percentage of up to 15% of your gross income after you signed a contract with a house through them. Therefore, to spread your risk, you should “work” with several agents. Don’t tell them unless you have to (in case they offer an audition you already got from another agent). Agents are jealous.

Do I have to bring a pianist?
No. Agents will provide you with a pianist in an audition. They will charge betweeen €25 and €40 for the pianist and the room. Opera houses always provide pianists, too, for free. DO NOT bring your own pianist - this is considered unprofessional, believe it or not. They do want to know how you handle the arias you bring in an unrehearsed situation.

When is the best time to come over for auditions?
I know, you all desperately hope for a simple answer here. But there isn't. Jobs tend to come in at all times now. There is, however, a summerbreak between July and September. October-December is busy - but so is January to April. Last minute jobs may come on the market in June...

How long should I stay?
Stay as long as you can! If you come over for 4 weeks or even less, you may have bad luck and there might be absolutely nothing going on in your Fach at that time. If you stay for less than 6 weeks, you should probably better lie about this to the agents, just to make sure to get into their list, and not be ignored for this reason. I know, this is fiancially very hard news for you.

How much German do I need to know?
(see below for a typical dialogue in an audition)
As much as possible. Big cheese agents don’t hold open auditions officially. They deal with big international houses who do everything in original language, and may hire lots of guests. Here your German may be poor. Most agents who do hold auditions, generally work with midsized and smaller houses, who might do a lot of their repertoire in German, including dialogues in German Operettas. Having good German and being able to communicate can be very important here.

What is the difference between “Gast-” and “Fest” – contracts?
A Gast (guest) contract is a contract for one Role in one Production. You will rehearse up to 8 weeks (yes, no kidding), then followed by single shows (anything between 4 and maybe 18… often spread over one or two seasons). A Fest contract is a contract that you sign normally for 2 seasons. In your contract they will write “Bariton” or “Soubrette” or “lyrischer Mezzo” or "Tenor"etc. They will make you sing several roles throughout the year (usually 2 exactly being your Fach, the so called “Fachpartien”+ several others) and pay you a monthly fee, health insurance, etc. You will be part of the Ensemble of the house and you will have to live in that city.

Agents will ask you whether you are interested in both. The best answer is: yes. You can always say no to an audition or an offer later on.

How much do these contracts pay? oh well...
Wages go down rather than up in the last 10 years or so. Usually as a soloist you will earn much less than the average German income before taxes, which is 2900 EUR per month before tax. Be prepared for 2000 to 2500 EUR. Beginners get 1650 EUR before tax. A note: in most opera houses the fest soloist makes less money than the chorus member next to him on stage! Guest roles pay anything between 400 EUR (small house) to.... several thousands. Many houses pay around 1000 EUR before tax per show. Please keep in mind that the 8 weeks rehearsal period usually pays between 1500 and 2500 before tax- in total.

How much do I get out / net income?
Depends on the sum, but usually you get out a little more than half of your gross income. Health insurance is paid for in this deal, and so is pension and income tax.

How much is a flat or apartment in Germany?

That depends on the city, and the size of the room/flat. Munich is expensive, Berlin is cheap. Be prepared to pay 200-300 € when sharing a flat, and find a (furnished) flat from 400 € onwards. In east Germany flats may be cheaper than this. Check out our Linklist for "Mitwohnzentrale"etc.

How much money can I make with singing in Germany anyway?
If you have a nice festcontract AND additionally go guesting with leading roles, you can make a living.

Do I need a work permit?
Yes, if you are from the US you do need a work permit in Germany. Opera houses have to apply for it and go through
this for you.

What is my German Fach?
This is something we can only discuss personally as part of a consultation and its very important for the German speaking Opera market. The Fach is a big thing in German speaking countries, since it has to do with the traditional (fest-) contract-system. If they ask you in a Fest contract to sing something which is out of your fach – they might have to pay you extra cash for each show! The Fach system has a few good points, too, you see.

Why do I need to know what my Fach is?
Vacancies for Fest contracts are often only described with the Fach word. Houses may not tell the agent which roles are to be cast, but only say: “we want a “lyrischer Sopran” for 2 Seasons. Its annoying for the singer, not to know the exact roles, but this is how its often done. The best thing is to know exactly what the German System means with the Fach. In this case, for a lyric Soprano (in the German sense), Pamina (in perfect German) is a must to bring to the audition, and maybe Susanna, or Mimi. But not Tosca or Butterfly.

What is the required audition repertoire?
That depends on your Fach, and needs to be talked over individually. Offering the right repertoire in auditions will raise your chances of being sucessful in an audition immensely! There are a couple of standard audition arias in English speaking countries, that will not get you anything over here.

Which audition repertoire suits me best when auditioning in Germany?
We can clarify that in a personal consultation. We can also do this over the phone/by email after you sent some soundclips and some photos.

What is the dress code in German auditions?
The dresscode is a more relaxed one compared to US standards, and definitely more casual. Men don’t have to show up in a suit and tie, but they can. A nice shirt, with dark trousers or even Jeans, for example, will do, too.Sneakers for men: that’s going a bit too far, but you might get away with it, if you are goodlooking. Generally agents auditions are more relaxed in terms of dresscodes, since they happen in daylight, and many times, in dodgy offices. For the women: no (long) evening or concert dress. There is a relatively high acceptance for individual clothing. But tastes vary, of course. What your best personal choices are we can clarify in a personal audition meeting.

How important are looks and age and voice in German auditions?
That may vary from house to house and from agent to agent. But generally looks and age count a lot. Type cast is a fashion here, and being young and slim (or looking like it) are important. Stage directors are powerful people in opera houses in Europe, and they generally seem to prefer slim, young, goodlooking singers, that are ready and able to do modern "European" staging, actor-like. Being overweight can be a serious NoNo. However, if you dont look like a movie-star, you can still be very sucessful over here, too. Let's discuss this personally, needs and tastes vary a lot regarding each Fach. mailto:info@vivacearts.de

What do I do first after I arrived in Germany?
Find a place to stay and an address. Buy a German mobile phone (called "prepaid" Handy), and contact us for a consultation session in Berlin mailto:info@vivacearts.de

How great are my chances of finding work as a soloist?
Crutial question, had to answer from my side. But its NOT easier over here than it is in your own country! Sorry that this sounds like I want to scare you off - no, I don't, but I try to be honest with you and realistic about the facts. It is a huge crowded "meat" market in German speaking countries and competition is hard.

Best of luck, hope to hear from you,
kind regards,

Ursula
Ursula Taylor, COEwww.vivacearts.de