2023 Cutlass Crew Auditions



The Cutlass Crew is a brilliant, 90-minute, 2-act opera (in English) based on
the true story of Lady Mary Killigrew, an English aristocrat-turned-pirate
who briefly menaced the high seas in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.
US premiere performances will be March 25-26 and April 1-2, 2023

[Download an auditions flyer]
To receive future audition and performance notices, sign up on the NCFO mailing list by clicking HERE.


Everyone age 7 or older who wishes to perform is accepted*, but...
We need to hear you sing for casting and voice part assignments, so...

Please schedule a time to sing for us, as follows:
EITHER email auditions23@familyopera.org
OR call 617-835-3162.

Your audition will take 30-60 minutes and will include:

  • a vocal evaluation,
  • completing and confirming information you will fill out online, and
  • having your picture taken.

​​* Please note that children under 10 require a participating adult.


​​This year we are offering both in-person as well as virtual (Zoom) auditions.
​​Please note that in-person auditions are preferred for:
- new members, as well as
- those who are interested in a more major role.

  • In-person auditions are at 23 Norris Street, Cambridge
    • ​​1:00 PM to 7:00 PM, October 15, 16, 22, and 23, 2022 (Saturday and Sunday), by appointment
    • We ask that you please wear a mask at in-person auditions
  • Virtual auditions are online, by appointment, October 17-21, 2022
  • Before you come, you will be asked to fill in an online Google Form for your contact information and volunteer interests.
  • Everyone should come prepared to
    • sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"
    • sing the Harmony Audition material provided below IF you're interested in a more challenging close harmony ensemble
    • sing the Harmony Audition AND the Solo Audition material provided below IF you're interested in a lead role
    • be photographed
  • Adults should also come prepared to
    • discuss your family's schedule from November through early April, so that we can flag potential conflicts
    • make a voluntary contribution to NCFO
  • If you were part of our ill-fated 2020 season, you can let us know if any of
    your family members would like to keep the same role(s) that they had in 2020.


  • Anyone currently 7 or older can participate, inexperienced to classically trained.
  • We ENCOURAGE participation by multiple family members, children and adults, both onstage and offstage*.
  • We REQUIRE that:
    • an adult perform onstage with all children currently younger than 10
    • an adult attend rehearsals with all children currently younger than 12
  • We may also ask that an adult perform or attend rehearsals with some children above these age limits.

*We welcome anyone who would like to experience non-performing aspects of our production, such as set construction, ushering, makeup, backstage, front-of-house and stage management.


We ask all cast member families to help in the following ways:

  • We require all participating families to sign up for a minimum of 8 hours of work on general tasks that support the production (set construction, painting, rehearsal cleanup, concession table, sewing costumes, etc.).
  • Family members with an organizational flair may sign up to manage a specific task for the production (time commitment varies).
  • Let us know if any family members would like to help with issues not related solely to the current production (e.g., fundraising and development, publicity and marketing, logistics, etc.)

You can download a description of available jobs HERE. Please come to auditions prepared to discuss the volunteer job(s) you chose online.


NCFO is a self-supporting non-profit organization. We do not charge a fee for participating in our production, nor do we charge admission to our performances. We gratefully accept voluntary, tax-deductible donations to help cover our production costs. Please consider donating to North Cambridge Family Opera, in any amount, if you enjoy being part of our production or attending our performances.


PRELIMINARY COVID PROTOCOL FOR REHEARSALS: Safety is our first concern. We are quite aware that singing is one of the easiest ways to spread respiratory illnesses. This is our current policy:
- We require all participants to be up to date on their vaccinations, per the CDC. See their website HERE for the latest on what this means. You will be asked to show proof of vaccination before our first meeting on November 20.
- We will be requiring KN95 or equivalent masks for rehearsals, at least initially. This is not everyone's preference, but it is a very effective way to sing safely in a group. The rehearsal studio is well-ventilated with large fans.
- We also ask that members be symptom-free to attend rehearsals.
- We have a committee that will be evaluating the prevalent COVID risks in the community on a regular basis. They will advise us on issues like whether it is safe next spring to rehearse or perform without masks.
- We will all have to be flexible in order to ensure that we maintain a safe environment.

We will hold an organizational meeting and first rehearsal on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20 (tentatively at 3:00pm). It is extremely important for everyone in the cast as well as for at least one responsible adult from every family to attend this meeting. Regular rehearsals begin (tentatively) on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4. We then rehearse every subsequent Sunday until performances EXCEPT:

  • Christmas Day
  • New Years Day
  • President's Day Eve (Sunday, February 19)

Please note that we WILL be rehearsing on Martin Luther King Day weekend (Sunday, January 15), as well as the second Sunday of school vacation week (Sunday, February 26).

The ENTIRE CAST rehearses on Sunday afternoons, with participants called at various times:
  12:30 to 2:30 - Selected lead soloists; supporting soloists may be called in this time window at one or two rehearsals
    2:30 to 4:00 - Selected soloists and small ensembles
    4:00 to 6:30 - The entire cast
                6:30 - Rehearsals always end on time

Who is scheduled when for each rehearsal is based in large part on who is available for the rehearsal that week. We ask that people advise us when they can and cannot be at rehearsal by Tuesday of each week, and we email a rehearsal schedule a few days later for the following Sunday.

On very rare occasions, we have asked major and some minor soloists to rehearse on an isolated weekday evening as well, but we're not expecting the need for this to arise this year.

Final rehearsal and performance schedule (tentative):

Run-through Rehearsals March 11 and 12
Dress Rehearsals March 18 and 19
Performances March 25 and 26, April 1 and 2

ALL CAST MEMBERS must attend run-through rehearsals (Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12, 2023) and dress rehearsals (Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19, 2023); therefore it is important to check your family's schedule before accepting a role in this show. You will be scheduled for two 4-hour run-throughs (one on Saturday and one on Sunday) and two 4-hour dress rehearsals (one on Saturday and one on Sunday) on these very important weekends. These are the rehearsals where everything comes together and many things get changed, so it is critical to be there.

Tentatively, two performances per day are scheduled for March 25 and 26 and for April 1 and 2, with each cast member scheduled for four of these eight performances (ordinarily one per day). However, this schedule may be modified pending availability of the venue and number of participants.


We put a great deal of thought into casting the opera. We double cast each role, so each soloist sings in four of the eight performances. We often are able to give everyone who wants one a solo, although we cannot guarantee it. There is always a lot of singing to do in the chorus and in smaller ensembles, though.

Because our shows are double cast, we must divide participants into two casts before final role assignments can be made. We try to keep you in the same cast as your friends. With dozens of families and dozens of solos, this gets really complicated, so it may be a month or two before you find out your solo assignment. Please be patient.

We endeavor to assign solos that will challenge you but not overwhelm you. We consider not only ability to sing, act and dance the role, but also age, number of years participating in the opera, and roles sung in previous NCFO operas. We will not assign you a solo role that requires you to sing harmony (see the table below) unless you have demonstrated the ability to do so in audition (to do otherwise would not be fair to the other ensemble members).


The vocal audition is easy and low-key: our musical director will:

  1. lead you through a set of vocalization exercises
  2. hear you sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (or some other song you are comfortable with)
  3. hear you sing any of the audition pieces you may have prepared for solo roles or close harmony ensembles (see below)

Ordinarily, all family members who want to perform in our show audition at the same time. We will make an audio recording of a portion of your audition to help us with casting. If you are auditioning for a lead role, we will also make a video recording of your prepared solo (see below) so that we can evaluate your stage presence.


If you want to be considered for one of the larger solo roles:

  • you MUST prepare using the sheet music and MP3s provided below
  • your choice which of the four songs to prepare -- you are NOT auditioning for any specific role: how we cast you will in no way depend on which song you sing, so just choose any song that fits well in your range.
  • You will be asked to sing two things at your audition:
    • a solo with just the accompaniment playing and
    • a line from "Tom O'Bedlam" with other voices singing as well.
  • It is important that you practice both songs, with all of the MP3s provided, especially the one that will be played in your audition (noted below).

If you are not auditioning for a lead role but are interested in a small, more challenging chorus, you should learn the short passage from "Tom O'Bedlam" provided below to demonstrate your skill at singing harmony. Even if you are not interested in a close harmony ensemble, if you CAN sing harmony, it would be REALLY HELPFUL for our casting efforts if you demonstrated this by learning and singing this passage. But it is not required.

If you do not want a lead solo or to be in a close harmony ensemble, you don't need to prepare anything to sing. However, there's an optional song at the end of the Audition Materials below if you want to have some fun showing off how beautiful your voice is!

If you have questions or need a hard copy of the audition music, please contact:

Materials for Principal Solo Auditions

Piper's Galliard - Sing Queen Elizabeth's part, bars 48-93. This has some dramatic high notes. (The spoiled rotten royalty, but with an unrequited crush on the immensely charming but roguish Sir Digory Piper)
             ALSO sing the Harmony Line from Tom O'Bedlam below
       See the score
       Hear the passage with all voices
       Hear the passage with just Queen Elizabeth singing
       Hear the passage without Queen Elizabeth singing (this is what will be played at your audition)

Lady Mary's Lament - Sing bars 122-157. A mezzo soprano passage with some tricky intervals. (Lady Mary is experiencing perhaps the first historical case of FOMO syndrome)
             ALSO sing the Harmony Line from Tom O'Bedlam below
       See the score
       Hear the passage with Mary and chorus singing
       Hear the passage with just piano and chorus (this is what will be played at your audition)

The Last Unicorn - Sing bars 67-100. If you have a huge vocal range, this is your chance to show it off. (Sir Digory Piper has been sentenced to death for piracy, and must charm his way back onto Queen Elizabeth's good side by giving her a piece of wash-up jetsam while telling her a preposterous story about it.)
             ALSO sing the Harmony Line from Tom O'Bedlam below
       See the score
       Hear the passage with Piper's part sung
       Hear the passage with just the accompaniment playing (this is what will be played at your audition)

Master of the Rolls - Sing bars 1-37. Yes, there really was a Sir Julius Caesar. (A real hanging judge, Sir Julius was. No mercy.)
             ALSO sing the Harmony Line from Tom O'Bedlam below
       See the score
       Hear the passage with all voices
       Hear the passage with just Caesar singing
       Hear the passage without Caesar singing (this is what will be played at your audition)

Any of these four songs can be sung in any octave you like.

Materials for Harmony Auditions ("Tom O'Bedlam") - required for lead solos and close harmony ensembles

Soprano and Alto
       See the score
       Hear bars 201-209 with just Thomasina's part sung
       Hear bars 201-209 with just the orchestra
       Hear bars 201-209 with all parts sung
       Hear bars 201-209 with all voices except Thomasina and Myles (this is what will be played at your audition)

Tenor and Bass
       See the score
       Hear bars 201-209 with just Myles's part sung
       Hear bars 201-209 with just the orchestra
       Hear bars 201-209 with all parts sung
       Hear bars 201-209 with all voices except Thomasina and Myles (this is what will be played at your audition)


If you're interested in a supporting role and want to show off how beautiful your voice is, you can sing Clement's part.
       See the score
       Hear bars 189-205 with Clement's part sung
       Hear bars 189-205 without Clement's part (this is what will be played at your audition)