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Christopher Busietta
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Christopher Busietta singing Mit Gewitter und Sturm from Der Fliegende Holländer.
Christopher Busietta singing Mit Gewitter und Sturm from Der Fliegende Holländer.

Why I have removed my videos from the internet

You may have noticed that in the last few days, my videos have disappeared from my website.

Quite recently, I have completed my seven year residence as a tenor soloist in the ensemble at Theater Augsburg. It has been a very rewarding experience – I have gained a huge amount of experience, skill and knowledge on the stage and singing with the fabulous orchestra.

With the last ten years I have grown from being a young singer into something a bit more seasoned. A big part of that change has been a change (thankfully for the better) in my vocal color. My voice, although it still sounds like me, is bigger and rounder thanks to improvements in my technique but also in my vocal maturity.

I have been to Australia for most of the eight years I’ve been away and for five out of those eight years I’ve put on recitals. I have filmed them myself and have therefore had some good quality videos of me singing. Despite doing close to forty professional opera productions, not one of them have been filmed or recorded professionally. And the recordings I have managed to obtain, for copyright reasons I am unable to share.

I like to have something on display to me to the music lovers who are wanting to hear me, the people who come to see me sing and support me directly (friends and family included). In a way, I feel that if I don’t, then I am not advertising to the audience that I feel I want to reach.

The wonderful Amir Farid accompanying me on La Donna è mobile from Rigoletto.
The wonderful Amir Farid accompanying me on La Donna è mobile from Rigoletto.

However, what is part of the modern operatic landscape (and indeed any other theatrical landscape) is that these videos are now used by the industry as a first opportunity to assess you. Not auditions.

Earlier this year, as my contract started to get closer towards the end, I approached a very important agent by e-mail, who rejected my audition request on the basis of one of my recital videos that was recorded in 2013. As I had not provided any of my other videos for the agent in question to look at, they looked me up on YouTube.

As it is now 2017, my performance and my voice have made some significant improvements. So after I got my rejection e-mail, I responded to the agent to ask them to look at my new, private videos recorded in the theatre from that year. I didn’t get a further response. This first (false) impression was enough to lose me an opportunity.

Before this incident, I tended not to send any recordings to agents, since I would rather be heard live than judged on a video. As as result, I have no idea how many agents and/or theatres have taken this approach, since most tend simply not to respond if they are not interested.

I must reiterate how important videos are today even without this unspoken requirement. Most of the big international singing competitions I entered do not have an open audition, but actually request a video along with your application form. They will then “cast” the finalists based on video footage. This means you have look good for video, find a space and a piano that sounds and looks good and then also be able to capture both sound and video in high quality. On top of that, then to sing and act flawlessly on the day – that aspect seems like trying to capture lightning. I have made many, many reasonable, but ultimately flawed video attempts that I sent out in applying for competitions, usually shot in between rehearsals and performances with very short time frames. Video sets these performances in stone. You can replay and rewind as often as you want. I would much rather audition, despite the cost.

Shot of St Martin's Hawksburn before my entry.
Shot of St Martin's Hawksburn before my entry.

Despite all my good intentions, the live videos that I have provided for free to the public, despite the positive comments I have received from many people, have nevertheless had a mostly negative impact on me professionally. It would have been better to have nothing up at all. It is another reminder that no matter how much of a fan-base you want to build and nurture yourself, which is what I and every other singer values most of all, ultimately everything you present publicly needs to be marketed first and foremost to opera directors and agents.

Ultimately, the message that I take from this experience after the eight years of being a soloist is that pleasing the agents and the theatre administrations are way more important than your audience. A sad and hard fact.

(If anyone wants access to these videos, feel free to contact me by e-mail or Facebook and I will send you the link.)

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