Melanie Lodge advises: Find your passion, sharpen your skill, and trust a friend’s faith in you.
In part two of this interview, Melanie Lodge, founder of the London-based digital casting-book Audition Oracle, tells her own story and gives advice to singers who want to make it in the opera world.
AIF: When you started Audition Oracle, you were a singer yourself?
Melanie Lodge: Yes, but when I first started this venture four years ago, my outlook was bleak. I was heavily in the grip of whooping cough. As a result, I had to axe engagements from my diary left, right and centre, not knowing if I would be left with a voice at the end of it. I started to panic even more than usual about how to make ends meet if I were to maintain a career in the world of opera. Several years ago the idea came to me to start Audition Oracle but a similar successful service already existed in K-AA. When the news came that this was closing, I knew that the time was right to establish a service of my own.
AIF: How did you get the money to start Audition Oracle?
Melanie Lodge: A very special singer-friend had been nagging me to do this for a while. She took me out for dinner and offered to lend me the money to get started. Although blown away by her offer I thought the best way forward was for her to pay for her first year’s subscription in advance. Her faith in me was inspiring and I immediately went home to start building a basic WordPress website. I then posted this website on Facebook and Twitter, sat back and waited, and chewed my nails.
AIF: What was the reaction of the singer community?
Melanie Lodge: Having come into opera via other areas of the performing arts, I had to be creative and think outside the box to find out about work. Without realising it, I had developed a reputation for knowing about auditions before the panel knew they were happening! It turned out this was a very valuable skill. People began signing up at a rate that far exceeded my hopes. Even so the last four years have been a learning curve, and a very enjoyable one.
AIF: Looking at the experience your clients make with Audition Oracle, what advice do you give how to get to an audition?
Melanie Lodge: To get the Audition be selective. Don’t carpet-bomb every opportunity as you can do yourself more harm than good. Read and research each opportunity thoroughly. Are you honestly who they are looking for? If not, save your energy. Apply in the manner the company asks you to.
AIF: If a singer is writing a cover letter or email to a casting director, what should it look like?
Melanie Lodge: Thoughtful but concise. Employers only have time to skim read one page so make sure your important relevant experience is clearly displayed and leave out the fillers for both covering letters and CVs. Make an administrator’s life easy. If they have asked for a one page CV saved in your name, voice type and PDF format, do it. Google can tell you how and it takes seconds. (For more details see the links below. AIF)
AIF: Singers might be surprised if they get an offer that is not what they aimed for. What should they to do?
Melanie Lodge: Be willing to explore, uncover, accept and revel in your niche. If people can’t see you as the big dramatic lead but are falling over themselves to get you on-board as the character tenor, why fight it? Embrace it and enjoy a world class (and potentially very long!) career with a list of contacts that could come in very handy when your voice and repertoire adjust in the future. Don’t forget: Having an excellent career is not all about having the greatest voice.
Look at the resources of Audition Oracle about creating your covering letter or email: