Michael Schade’s Top 5 Tips for Singers

Acclaimed tenor offers emerging singers advice gained from over 20 years in music

From October 17 to 19, Michael Schade will join the Schulich School of Music for a three-day residency as a Catherine Thornhill Steele Visiting Artist! Known as one of the leading tenors of our time, his opera, recital, concert, and recording repertoire embraces everything from Monteverdi to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. He appears frequently with the Metropolitan Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, the Teatro alla Scala, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Opéra Bastille in Paris. Following his residency at Schulich, he'll be appearing as Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in collaboration with the Opéra de Montréal and Orchestre Métropolitain.

To coincide with his approaching Schulich residency, we asked Schade to name his top five tips for singers, which are listed below.

  1. Language, language, language – whatever language you sing in, you must understand EVERY word, and your diction must be perfect. There is no excuse and no approximation.
  2. Never audition sick (or even slightly sick) and never show juries what you “might” develop into. Stay within your current repertoire.
  3. Be organized and know where and what bursaries, competitions, and opportunities are available. Know how people did it before you and study their path. Be on time and nice to your fellow musicians. It’s a trait you will need throughout your career.
  4. Life as only an opera singer, an oratorio singer, or a recitalist doesn’t exist anymore. You must diversify and study different styles. Look at careers like Joyce di Donato, Cecilia Bartoli, and Isabelle Leonard, just to name a few. Get to know early music and be prepared to sing in different styles. Always sing prettily, as opera singers don’t sing loud, they sing beautifully!
  5. Remember to believe in yourself but do not indulge in self-delusion or fantasy. Stay real! It may not work out for a bunch of years, but don’t fret. Knowing and following your inner muse will help you remain happy, no matter what other occupation you may end up in.

In preparation for Thursday's concert at Schulich, listen to a 2006 recording of Die schöne Müllerin by Schade and pianist Malcom Martineau:


See Michael Schade and Professor Michael McMahon perform Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin on October 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Pollack Hall! Buy your tickets here.