As a classical singer, you have a variety of things you might be auditioning for, from young artist programs (also known as YAPs) and vocal contests to gigs at restaurants or on cruise ships! There are a few things to consider for each situation, so here is a helpful list of tips, as well as the top classical audition songs for sopranos, tenors, mezzos, and baritones!
You can also jump ahead using these links:
- Classical Audition Songs for a Young Artist Program
- Classical Audition Songs for Cruise Ships & Other Gigs
- Classical Audition Songs for Competitions
- Classical Audition Songs for Opera Companies
- Classical Audition Songs for Undergraduate/Graduate Programs
It’s essential that every fach (operatic voice type) has a solid aria in English. Almost every program will ask for one, so below are some good repertoire options to consider.
- “Laurie’s Song” from Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land”
This is a beautiful aria to show off a young lyric soprano!
- “Must the Winter Come So Soon?” from Samuel Barber’s “Vanessa”
This song is short, has a gorgeous line, and is age appropriate. This is exactly the sort of thing a singer needs for a Young Artist Program.
- “Lonely House” from “Street Scene” by Kurt Weill
This is another aria that is age appropriate. And for lyric tenors, this will show you off like nothing else, both vocally and dramatically.
- “Warm as the Autumn Light” from Douglas Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe”
This song has a soaring vocal line to show off your strong middle voice! At just under three minutes, this is another perfect choice for an audition song.
For these types of auditions, you should consider the “party hits” of classical music! This can include some Italian folk songs that can be sung by any voice type. You’ll want to choose melodies that people that aren’t opera buffs know and love.
- “Musetta’s Waltz” from Puccini’s “La Boheme”
Everyone knows this one! It’s happy, super familiar, and shows off your killer high notes!
Another winner for a soprano is “O mio babbino caro” from another Puccini opera, “Gianni Schicchi”. All sopranos can sing this one. Just be careful not to drag the tempo; it’s actually meant to be a humorous aria!
- “Habanera” from “Carmen”
You can’t go wrong with “Carmen”, and this one in particular is flirtatious and fun.
- “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot”
Yes, it’s the tenor anthem. But needless to say, you must have serious technique and power to make this one work. If you can nail this one, the job is likely yours!
If you want something a little more lighthearted but still a big hit, there is always Verdi’s “La donna e mobile” from “Rigoletto”. Everyone knows and adores this one!
- “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”
This is a great choice for a classical audition song if you want to draw in a non-opera crowd. Most people will recognize this one, and you can show off your amazing vocal agility and comedic chops.
Another hit from “Carmen” is the beloved “Toreador Song”. How can a baritone not have fun with this classic?
For any voice:
- “O Sole Mio” (Italian standard)
This cheerful folk tune is yet another song people know and love. It can be sung in various keys if you’re a mezzo or baritone.
Another great Italian folk song is “Funiculi Funicula”. Tenors especially will love this one because of the ringing high notes, but don’t let that hold you back if you’re another voice type!
If you’re selecting classical audition songs for a vocal competition, I recommend repertoire in different languages besides the standard Italian, French, German, and English. This will be sure to impress the panel!
- “Song to the Moon” from Dvořák’s “Rusalka”
What a gorgeous aria! It’s magical when sung with a beautifully spun line.
- “Olga’s Aria” from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”
This is a great choice to show off your charm, your low vocal range, and your Russian!
- “Lensky’s Aria”, also from “Eugene Onegin”
This is an absolutely breathtaking aria, with tons of drama and high notes galore. How can you go wrong?
- “Forester’s Monologue” from Janacek’s “Cunning Little Vixen”
This song is a bit longer, but what a gem! It’s hardly overdone, which makes it an excellent choice.
For an opera company audition, consider a piece that will prove you can act, too! Longer arias are definitely okay here.
- “To This We’ve Come” from Menotti’s “The Consul”
Wow, talk about an acting feast! This is high drama at its best, and is sure to impress!
- “The letters aria” from Massenet’s “Werther”
If you can sing this beautifully and tug at our heartstrings, you’ve probably got the role!
- “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s “Tosca”
Full of passion, this is more than just about high notes.
- “Pari Siamo” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto”
Verdi was the king of Italian drama. This song, the tortured title character’s aria, is no exception.
Make sure you have a Mozart aria! He’s the bread and butter of operatic repertoire, after all, and chances are your program will be doing one of his operas while you are there.
- “Dove Sono” from “The Marriage of Figaro”
This can be sung by both light- or heavy-voiced sopranos. This character, The Countess, has two fabulous arias, but “Dove Sono” has a bit more motion to it, and is awfully fun to sing.
- Dorabella’s aria from “Così fan tutte”
This one sits a bit high and is best for lyric mezzos, but it’s a great one!
- Tamino’s aria from “The Magic Flute”
Mozart wrote some challenging arias for tenor! Mozart tenors need a light, lyric sound, and this aria is perfect for that kind of voice.
- “The Catalog Aria” from “Don Giovanni”
Not only will this one show off your excellent musicality, it’s also so funny!
There you have it — 25 excellent classical audition songs that will show you off, whether they’re tried and true hits or lesser-known gems.
Another great resource for repertoire recommendations is your voice teacher, of course! Don’t have one? No problem! There are so many wonderful voice teachers on Takelessons available to help, many with classical backgrounds. As you prepare for your vocal audition, working with a voice teacher will put you at a huge advantage.
Happy singing, and good luck at your audition!
Photo by U.S. Army