How do I Become a Repetiteur?

Thomas Henry

A repetiteur is a performance teacher or coach; he or she may help a dancer learn his steps, or help a singer with pronunciation or pitch. Someone who wants to become a repetiteur needs more than an ability to perform, although this is a vital element. You must also be able to communicate well with others and have the patience to work with other performers to become a repetiteur.

Ballet rehearsals are overseen by a repetiteur.
Ballet rehearsals are overseen by a repetiteur.

Répétiteur is French for repeater. It is an appropriate term, because in both ballet and opera, a repetiteur will rely upon repetition to teach his performers. The skills taught by a repetiteur have been learned through years of practice and hard work. In an opera company, a repetiteur will likely have experience as a vocalist, pianist, or vocal coach. He may be a former performer or someone whose goal is to become a conductor.

A repetiteur supervises opera rehearsals.
A repetiteur supervises opera rehearsals.

In ballet, the repetiteur is the person who helps a dancer interpret his role and learn the steps required for a specific role. To become a professional dancer requires years of training and dedication. Often, the coach is someone who has had some success as part of a dance company before deciding to become a repetiteur. His main job is to schedule rehearsals, some of which he may lead.

When it comes to opera, the repetiteur must understand how to help a singer improve his pitch. The repetiteur also coaches the correct way to phrase and pronounce lyrics in languages including Italian, German, English, and French. If you want to become a repetiteur, you will likely need to spend years learning to play an instrument, such as the piano, and perfecting your ability to sight-read both the vocal and instrumental parts of musical scores. Many repetiteur have earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. They often begin their careers working for opera companies or by teaching younger students.

A repetiteur is someone who must learn and use superior communications skills. He will have to work closely with both the performers he coaches and the conductor for whom they will perform. Repetiteurs have been called the unheralded heroes of opera. A repetiteur gets little credit, but must know the conductor's interpretation of the opera being performed and be able to communicate it to the performers.

Most major singing stars are not full-time members of individual opera companies, so repetiteurs are often assigned to work with singers they may not know well. The repetiteur will have to learn how to quickly determine the singer's strengths and weaknesses and be able to work with the star at his convenience. The repetiteur must often communicate between the star performer and the conductor any differences that may exist between them.

Repetiteurs helps dancers learn their steps for a performance.
Repetiteurs helps dancers learn their steps for a performance.

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