Operalia, The World Opera Competition

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Operalia, The World Opera Competition is an annual international competition for young opera singers. Founded in 1993 by renowned tenor Plácido Domingo, the competition has helped launch the careers of several important artists, such as Joseph Calleja, Giuseppe Filianoti, Rolando Villazón, José Cura, Joyce DiDonato, Elizabeth Futral, Inva Mula and Ana María Martínez.


Operalia is based in Paris but hosts its competition in a different city each year. Cities which have hosted the competition include Paris at both the Palais Garnier and Théâtre du Châtelet, Mexico City at the Televisa Recording Studios, Madrid at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, Bordeaux at the Grand Théâtre, Tokyo at the Kan-I Hoken Hall, Hamburg at the Laeiszhalle, Puerto Rico at the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center, Los Angeles at both UCLA's Royce Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Washington, D.C. at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, the Lake Constance region in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, Madrid at the Teatro Real, Valencia at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, and Québec at the Palais Montcalm and Grand Théâtre de Québec.

The competition is open to singers between the ages of 18 and 32 who are already performing at a highly skilled level. All voice types of both sexes are able to compete. Participants in the competition are selected by audition through a submitted recording to Operalia. A panel of three judges listens and evaluates the audition tapes. Only the top 40 submissions are invited to compete in the competition. Typically the organization receives 800 to 1,000 submissions each year, making entry into the competition alone an honor.

The competition is presided over every year by Plácido Domingo, although he himself does not judge the competition. A jury of 10 opera directors from important opera houses all over the world is assembled to judge the competition. Competitors must prepare 4 arias for the competition which consists of four rounds. In the first round each singer gets to choose one aria they want to sing and then the jury selects the other aria from their list of four for them to perform. Singers can also compete in a separate zarzuela competition. If they choose to do so they would perform an additional zarzuela piece in each round. Of the 40 singers, half of them are eliminated in the first round. The second round involves the performance of one more aria, after which only 10 singers move on to the next round. Likewise, the third round eliminates half of the singers, leaving only five participants in the final round. The first three rounds are performed with piano accompaniment and the final round is sung with a symphonic orchestra conducted by Plácido Domingo.

Although only five singers make it into the final round, the competition has a total of 10 prizes which total up to 175,000 US dollars. In the general competition 1st prize, 2nd prize, and 3rd prize are awarded, one of each to both sexes, making a total of 6 prizes. Within the zarazuela competition two prizes are awarded, one to a male singer and one to a female singer. There is also a prize awarded by the audience of the final competition to one female singer and one male singer. It is possible for a singer to win more than one award. More important than the money received by the prize is the recognition and career boost given by the competition. It is normal for the opera directors judging the competition to engage competition winners for future opera performances with their companies, or for them to connect artists with other opera directors.

List of winners[edit]

Name Voice type Country Prize Year, place
Enkhbatyn Amartüvshin baritone Mongolia Winner 2012, Beijing
Simone Alberghini bass Italy Winner 1994, Mexico City
Maria Teresa Alberola Banuls soprano Spain 3rd Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2006, Valencia
Kate Aldrich mezzo-soprano United States CulturArte Prize 2002, Paris
Orlin Anastassov bass Bulgaria 1st Prize 1999, Puerto Rico
Sébastien Guèze tenor France 2nd Prize & Audience Prize 2006, Valencia
Konstyantyn Andreyev tenor Ukraine 3rd Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2000, Los Angeles
Thiago Arancam tenor Brazil 2nd Prize & Zarzuela Prize & Audience Prize 2008, Québec
Oxana Arkaeva soprano Ukraine Winner 2008, Québec
Ainhoa Arteta soprano Spain Winner & Audience Prize 1993, Paris
Brian Asawa countertenor United States Winner 1994, Mexico City
Jae Chul Bae tenor South Korea CulturArte Prize 1998, Hamburg
Isabel Bayrakdarian soprano Canada 1st Prize 2000, Los Angeles
Vitaly Bilyy baritone Ukraine 4th Prize 2004, Los Angeles
David Bižić bass-baritone Serbia 2nd Prize 2007, Paris
Angel Blue soprano United States 2nd Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2009, Pécs/Budapest
Joseph Calleja tenor Malta CulturArte Prize 1999, Puerto Rico
Mariola Cantarero soprano Spain Zarzuela Prize 1999, Puerto Rico
Marco Caria baritone Italy 2nd Prize & Audience Prize 2007, Paris
Mario Cassi baritone Italy Zarzuela Prize 2003, Bodensee
Arturo Chacón Cruz tenor Mexico Zarzuela Prize & CulturArte Prize 2005, Madrid
Jennifer Check soprano United States Zarzuela Prize 2003, Bodensee
Carlos Cosías tenor Spain Zarzuela Prize 1998, Hamburg
José Cura tenor Argentina Winner & Audience Prize 1994, Mexico City
Adriana Damato soprano Italy 1st Prize 2003, Bodensee
Maya Daskuk soprano Russia 3rd Prize 2001, Washington, D.C.
Stéphane Degout baritone France 2nd Prize 2002, Paris
Maria Cecilia Diaz mezzo-soprano Argentina Winner 1994, Mexico
Joyce DiDonato mezzo-soprano United States 2nd Prize 1998, Hamburg
Kinga Dobay mezzo-soprano Germany Zarzuela Prize 2005, Madrid
Andión Fernández soprano Philippines Zarzuela Prize 1998, Hamburg
Giuseppe Filianoti tenor Italy 2nd Prize 1999, Puerto Rico
Maria Fontosh soprano Russia 3rd Prize 2002, Paris
Bruce Fowler tenor United States Winner 1994, Mexico
Elizabeth Futral soprano United States 2nd Prize 1995, Madrid
Aurelio Gabaldon tenor Spain Zarzuela Prize 2007, Paris
Antonio Gandia tenor Spain Zarzuela Prize 2001, Washington, D.C.
Jesus Garcia tenor United States 3rd Prize 2003, Bodensee
Eugenia Garza soprano Mexico Zarzuela Prize 2001, Washington, D.C.
Oziel Garza-Ornelas baritone Mexico Zarzuela Prize 1996, Bordeaux
Carmen Giannattasio soprano Italy 1st Prize 2002, Paris
Rachele Gilmore soprano United States Zarzuela Prize 2007, Paris
Jozef Gjipali tenor Albania 2nd Prize 2003, Bodensee
Nancy Herrera mezzo-soprano Spain Zarzuela Prize 1996, Bordeaux
He Hui soprano China 2nd Prize 2000, Los Angeles
Carla Maria Izzo soprano Italy 1st Prize & Audience Prize 1997, Tokyo
Maria Jooste soprano South Africa 4th Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Joseph Kaiser tenor Canada 2nd Prize 2005, Madrid
Hyoung-Kyoo Kang baritone South Korea 2nd Prize 2001, Washington, D.C.
María Alejandres Katzarava soprano Mexico 1st Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2008, Québec
Ketevan Kemoklidze mezzo-soprano Georgia Zarzuela Prize 2008, Québec
Jae Hyoung Kim tenor South Korea Zarzuela Prize 2002, Paris
Sung Eun Kim soprano South Korea 1st Prize 1995, Madrid
Woo Kyung Kim tenor South Korea 1st Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Anna Kiknadze mezzo-soprano Georgia Zarzuela Prize 2002, Paris
Arnold Kocharyan baritone Armenia Zarzuela Prize 2000, Los Angeles
Dmitry Korchak tenor Russia 4th Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Maija Kovaļevska soprano Latvia 1st Prize 2006, Valencia
Nataliya Kovalova soprano Ukraine 2nd Prize & Audience Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Vitalij Kowaljow bass Ukraine CulturArte Prize 1999, Puerto Rico
Oksana Kramaryeva soprano Ukraine 2nd Prize & Audience Prize 2008, Québec
Vasily Ladyuk baritone Russia 1st Prize 2005, Madrid
Valeriano Lanchas bass Colombia Zarzuela Prize 2001, Washington
Joshua Langston Hopkins baritone Canada 3rd Prize 2005, Madrid
Ekaterina Lekhina soprano Russia 1st Prize 2007, Paris
Chang Yong Liao baritone China 1st Prize 1997, Tokyo
David Lomeli tenor United States 1st Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2006, Valencia
Israel Lozano tenor Spain 3rd Prize & Zarzuela Prize & Audience Prize 2003, Bodensee
Irina Lungu soprano Russia CulturArte Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Aquiles Machado tenor Venezuela 2nd Prize & Zarzuela Prize 1997, Tokyo
Elena Manistina mezzo-soprano Russia 1st Prize 2002, Paris
Ana María Martínez soprano Puerto Rico Zarzuela Prize 1995, Madrid
Elisaveta Martirosyan soprano Georgia Audience Prize 2001, Washington, D.C.
John Matz tenor United States 2nd Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2002, Paris
David Menendez Diaz baritone Spain 3rd Prize 2005, Madrid
Carlos Moreno tenor Spain 3rd Prize 1996, Bordeaux
Maki Mori soprano Japan 3rd Prize 1998, Hamburg
Inva Mula soprano Albania Winner 1993, Paris
Lasha Nikabadze tenor Georgia CulturArte Prize 2001, Washington
Julia Novikova soprano Russia 1st Prize & Audience Prize 2009, Pécs/Budapest
Carmen Oprisanu mezzo-soprano Romania 3rd Prize 1995, Madrid
Lisette Oropesa soprano United States 3rd Prize & Zarzuela Prize 2007, Paris
John Osborn tenor United States 1st Prize 1996, Bordeaux
Eric Owens bass United States 2nd Prize 1996, Bordeaux
Phyllis Pancella mezzo-soprano United States 2nd Prize 1996, Bordeaux
Olga Peretyatko soprano Russia 2nd Prize 2007, Paris
Ailyn Pérez soprano United States 2nd Prize 2006, Valencia
Jossie Perez mezzo-soprano United States Zarzuela Prize 2001, Washington
Mikhail Petrenko bass Russia 4th Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Susanna Phillips soprano United States 1st Prize & Audience Prize 2005, Madrid
Robert Pomakov bass Canada 3rd Prize 2000, Los Angeles
Dmytro Popov tenor Ukraine 2nd Prize 2007, Paris
Joel Prieto tenor Spain / Puerto Rico 1st Prize & Zarzuela Prize & CulturArte Prize 2008, Québec
Sabina Puertolas soprano Spain Zarzuela Prize 2003, Bodensee
Diogenes Randes bass Brazil 2nd Prize 2005, Madrid
Alessandra Rezza soprano Italy 2nd Prize 2001, Washington
Angel Rodriguez Rivero tenor Spain Zarzuela Prize 1997, Tokyo
Rafael Rojas tenor Mexico Zarzuela Prize 1995, Madrid
Arnold Rutkowski tenor Poland CulturArte Prize 2009, Pécs/Budapest
Trevor Scheunemann baritone United States 3rd Prize 2006, Valencia
Erwin Schrott bass Uruguay 1st Prize & Audience Prize 1998, Hamburg
Carine Sechehaye mezzo-soprano Switzerland Zarzuela Prize 2007, Paris
Jung-Hack Seo baritone South Korea 2nd Prize 1997, Tokyo
In-Sung Sim baritone South Korea Zarzuela Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Daniil Shtoda tenor Russia 2nd Prize 2000, Los Angeles
Carmen Solis Gonzalez soprano Spain CulturArte Prize 2007, Paris
Nina Stemme mezzo-soprano Sweden Winner 1993, Paris
Xiu Wei Sun soprano China 3rd Prize 1997, Tokyo
Karoly Szemeredy baritone Hungary 3rd Prize 2008, Québec
Lynette Tapia soprano United States 1st Prize & Audience Prize 1996, Bordeaux
Masako Teshima mezzo-soprano Japan Winner 1994, Mexico City
Ludovic Tezier baritone France 2nd Prize 1998, Hamburg
Dimitra Theodossiou soprano Greece 2nd Prize & Audience Prize 1995, Madrid
Virginia Tola soprano Argentina Zarzuela Prize & Audience Prize 2000, Los Angeles
Rolando Villazón tenor Mexico 2nd Prize & Audience Prize & Zarzuela Prize 1999, Puerto Rico
Vittorio Vitelli baritone Italy 3rd Prize 1996, Bordeaux
Dimitry Voropaev tenor Russia 3rd Prize 2004, Los Angeles
Karen Vuong soprano United States CulturArte Prize 2006, Valencia
Yali-Marie Williams soprano Puerto Rico 3rd Prize 1999, Puerto Rico
Elena Xanthoudakis soprano Greece/Australia 3rd Prize 2008, Québec
Guang Yang mezzo-soprano China 1st Prize 2001, Washington, D.C.
Tae Joong Yang baritone South Korea 1st Prize 2007, Paris
Kwangchul Youn bass South Korea Winner 1993, Paris
Miguel Angel Zapater bass Spain 1st Prize 1995, Madrid

Official website[edit]