Belt It Out at Auditions With These 12 Great Songs for Mezzo-Sopranos

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If you’re among the mezzo-soprano “witches, bitches, and britches,” you know that finding the right audition song for your vocal range is essential. Here are 12 ballads and up-tempo numbers to consider, ranging from time-honored classics to more obscure picks.

What makes a good audition song?

It’s easy to cut down. A great audition cut will have a narrative arc that happens within a brief 16–32 bars, which is easier said than done. Look for songs with distinct sections that can be isolated without disrupting the musical flow.  

It showcases your abilities. Mezzo-soprano might be the most versatile vocal type in musical theater, and roles are often more varied and interesting than those for sopranos—so find an audition piece that shows off both your singing and acting chops.

It’s a piece that you love. There’s a lot of controversy about whether it’s OK to bring overdone material to the audition room or whether it’s better to choose the most niche number you can find. It ultimately comes down to finding a song that you’re passionate about; you’ll be a much more captivating performer if you’re genuinely enjoying yourself.

12 great audition songs for mezzo-sopranos

“Got the Sun in the Mornin’ ” from “Annie Get Your Gun” (1946); music and lyrics by Irving Berlin

This triumphant number from legendary Old West sharpshooter Annie Oakley is the anti–“I want” song. (Is there such a thing as an “I have” song?) Confident, joyful, and a little bit sly, this is a great number to show off an old-school mezzo belt. Its classic four-line structure means it’s a great choice if you only have 16 bars to play with. Try this as an alternative to more commonly used songs from the era, e.g. “Wonderful Guy” from “South Pacific” and “I Cain’t Say No” from “Oklahoma.”     

 “I Can Cook, Too” from “On the Town” (1945); music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

John Rando’s 2014 Broadway revival of “On the Town” has repopularized this 1940s classic—and for good reason. Sung by brazen cab driver Hildy (played by Alysha Umphress in Rando’s production), it’s sassy, jazzy, funny, and chock-full of playful innuendo. “I Can Cook, Too” will give you an edge if you’re trying to establish yourself both as both a character actor and a killer vocalist. Similar choices include “A Little Brains, a Little Talent” from “Damn Yankees” and “The Lady Is a Tramp” from “Babes in Arms.”

“Shy” from “Once Upon a Mattress” (1959); music by Bernstein, lyrics by Comden and Green

 

The legendary Carol Burnett made her Broadway debut as Princess Winnifred in this fairy-tale comedy, and it’s the perfect vehicle to show off your belt. Unlike many comedic numbers, which tend to take a long time to arrive at the punchline, “Shy” gets right to the point. The joke—Winnifred is anything but shy—is immediate and builds from there, giving a singer ample opportunity to make wacky, memorable choices.

“I Remember” from “Evening Primrose” (1966); music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

This obscure Sondheim musical wasn’t written for the stage; rather, it was an episode of “ABC Stage 67,” which ran for a single season in the late 1960s. Though the plot of “Evening Primrose” is truly wild—a misanthropic poet hides out in a department store and discovers an entire community living there in secret—this song works gorgeously when divorced from its absurd context. Sung by a woman who’s spent her life indoors since she was a child, “I Remember” is a wistful, haunting ode to the beauty of a larger world that she barely recalls. 

“I’ve Never Said I Love You” from “Dear World” (1969); music and lyrics by Jerry Herman

 

This oddball adaptation of 1940s French satire “​​The Madwoman of Chaillot” has been largely forgotten by history. But considering it’s written by legendary composer-lyricist Herman, it features more than a few memorable tunes. “I’ve Never Said I Love You” is a dreamy, sincere romantic ballad that’s in a soprano style, but not a soprano range. It’s a lesser-known alternative to commonly performed Herman songs like “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!” and “If He Walked Into My Life” from “Mame.”

“Another Hundred People” from “Company” (1970); music and lyrics by Sondheim

 

As sung by NYC newcomer Marta, the youthful, infectious energy of this fast-paced ode to city life is Sondheim patter at its finest. What’s more, its role as connective tissue between scenes in “Company” makes it easy to break into 32-bar chunks. “Another Hundred People” is also very versatile from an acting standpoint; it can read optimistic or cynical depending on your delivery—so be sure to choose which you want to convey in your performance. 

“I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from “Jesus Christ Superstar” (1971); music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice

This favorite from Lloyd Webber and Rice’s concept album–turned–rock opera is certainly a popular choice for auditions; but it has so much going for it that it would be a shame to leave it off this list. Equal parts hopeful and heartbreaking, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” is a romantic ballad sung by Mary Magdalene about her unrequited love for Jesus.

Since the song starts off conversationally and builds into a dramatic bridge, choosing the right excerpt for an audition could make it very dynamic—and offer an opportunity to take stylistic license. It sounds equally powerful in Yvonne Elliman’s old-school folk belt in the original Broadway production as it does in Sara Bareilles’ contemporary pop style in ABC’s 2018 concert special.

“The Story Goes On” from “Baby” (1983); music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.

 

This moving, joyful ballad is sung by a young woman wrestling with becoming a mother for the first time. It packs all the power of a full-belt number with a range that’s suited to the mixers among us. Try channeling the emotional sincerity of original performer Liz Callaway to take your delivery to the next level. 

“I’m Here” from “The Color Purple” (2004); music and lyrics by  Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray

There’s a reason why the 2023 film adaptation of this Broadway musical garnered critical acclaim, including an Oscar nod. It’s a powerful, poignant take on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-winning 1982 novel about the Black female experience in the early 20th century. That’s never more true than in “I’m Here,” an ode to self-love sung by the show’s protagonist, Celie. The song includes three tempo changes, which you can use to showcase your versatility and range. Lean into the melody during the most dramatic moments to really wow your audience. 

“Everything I Know” from “In the Heights” (2005); music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

This soulful ballad about dreams, sacrifice, and intergenerational connection allows mezzos to showcase both emotional complexity and vocal control. It beautifully captures the introspective uncertainty of Nina, who has returned to her working-class NYC neighborhood after dropping out of Stanford. Lean into the character’s moments of vulnerability as well as her swelling pride.

“Even Though” from “I Love You Because” (2006); music by Joshua Salzman, lyrics by Ryan Cunningham 

This genderbent modern retelling of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” never made it to Broadway, so this number is a unique audition choice. Performed by Marcy (the show’s version of Mr. Darcy), “Even Though” is a declaration of love that’s both romantic and legitimately funny. Its blend of quirkiness and sincerity make it a great pick if you’re going in for a contemporary musical.

“Fly Into the Future” from “Vanities” (2006); music and lyrics by David Kirshenbaum 

This fun number from Kirshenbaum’s Off-Broadway musical—which follows three female friends from high school to adulthood—isn’t used nearly enough in auditions. Performing “Fly Into the Future” gives you the opportunity to show off the high-mix sound that’s become popular in recent shows. 

Depending on which portion of the song you choose, you can showcase your killer sustained vocal mix or your skills at narrative patter. You could even prepare several different cuts tailored to specific auditions. This piece is a solid choice if you’re auditioning for a teen girl–centric musical like “Mean Girls,” “Heathers,” “Bring It On,” or “Carrie.”

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