orchestraThe American Prize in Opera Performance, 2016

The American Prize in Opera Performance recognizes and rewards the best performances of opera and operetta by opera companies, ensembles and schools in America, based on submitted applications. The competition is designed to evaluate productions, not individual singers. (Vocalists interested in The American Prize should apply in the Vocal Performance competition.)


DEADLINE for postmark or emailing of application(s): Tuesday, May 17, 2016. There is no need to email in advance.

The American Prize is more than monetary. Semi-finalists, finalists and winners are announced to national arts media and on our websites, where winners are profiled. Semi-finalists, finalists and winners earn the right to use The American Prize logo and official seal on printed programs and other documents, and on the web.

SEMI-FINALISTS: All semi-finalists receive official certificates.
FINALISTS: All finalists receive certificates and written, unbiased evaluations from our distinguished national panel of judges.
RUNNERS-UP: Runners-up receive certificates, written evaluations and personalized press releases sent by us to local media and other contacts you provide as part of your application.
WINNERS: A single winner in each category and/or division is selected. Winners receive certificates, written evaluations, personalized press releases and cash prizes up to $500, depending on the year, the category and the number of entrants. Only with your explicit permission, excerpts of winning performances may be posted to The American Prize channel on

The judges reserve the right to award citations and honorable mentions as warranted, and to combine categories when necessary. The decision of the judges is final.

To see how previous laureates of The American Prize have used their placement in the competitions to promote their careers, please visit

The American Prize in Opera Performance is offered in as many as three categories, based on the membership in the ensemble, and on the number and quality of entries. Applications on behalf of opera companies may be made by the conductor or artistic director of the ensemble, its board members or other leaders, such as faculty or administrators, and by the musicians themselves. Only one application per ensemble per year may be submitted. Conductors may apply separately for conducting awards (see Conducting Prizes).

In Opera/Operetta division, the categories are:
    1. professional opera company (all musicians are paid—volunteer chorus ok)
    2. community opera company (some musicians may be paid/some may be students)
    3. college or university opera company (mostly students/no paid musicians—except soloists/faculty participation ok)

The contest is designed to evaluate staged performances of opera or operetta in which a video recording has been made. Performances of works of musical theater should be submitted in Musical Theater Performance category.

Opera productions will be judged on broad criteria. In addition to the quality of musical performance in solo vocal, ensemble, choral and instrumental areas, weight will be given to staging, direction, acting, set design and execution, costuming, and overall impact of the performance.

The competitions of The American Prize are open to all U.S. citizens, whether living in this country or abroad, and to others currently living, working and/or studying in the United States of America, its protectorates and territories. All application fees must be remitted in U.S. funds.


Every applicant must send certain required information by email.

Applicants can then complete their application either of two ways:


A. ONLINE ONLY: pay fees online, submit the downloaded application as a PDF file, along with the required emailed information (see application form), and include links to your online audition selections. (Application forms for The American Prize can be filled out on computer, saved and emailed by using Adobe Reader 11. Download it free here.)

B. BY MAIL & EMAIL: mail the completed, downloaded application form and send audition selections on disc or tape to the office, and email the required information (see application form), paying fees online, or by check, by money order or credit card.


    1. Download the application form for The American Prize in Opera Performance. Select the category which best identifies the applicant.
    2. MAIL the completed application form by the deadline date or EMAIL it as a PDF attachment with your required email.

    3. If providing audition selections ONLINE, include the links to them in your required email (see application form.)

    4. If providing audition selections BY MAIL, include two identical recordings of the ensemble in performance, with the selections clearly indicated on both the recording itself and on the recording's cover or box. Be sure it lists applicant's name.
    5. Be sure to sign the form and pay the application fee. Pay ONLINE (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above), or send check, money order or credit card information by mail.
    6. Be sure to email the required information (see application form.)

The application fee is $75 per application. Pay ONLINE (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above), pay by credit card, or make checks payable to HCMT/The American Prize. Application fees are nonrefundable. No incomplete applications will be accepted. When paying online, BE SURE to identify the applicant with the payment.


The American Prize in Opera Performance:

1. MAIL recordings of, or email ONLINE links to, not less than thirty minutes of staged, conducted opera or operetta, which must include at minimum one complete act of a standard work, performed either in the original language or in translation, with the original accompaniment, whether it be orchestra (or reduced orchestra), chamber ensemble or piano. Neither the size, make-up, location or repertoire of any qualified organization limits its eligibility. Excellence within categories is the primary criteria for the selection of finalists and winners. The judges will listen from the beginning of the recording unless you request otherwise. Recordings must have been made within the last five years.


2. Performers and works must be clearly identified on the disc itself and on the cover or video box. We accept DVD or VHS recordings only. No cassette or audio-only tapes.


3. If submitting ONLINE links, include them in your required email. Be sure to identify the links by title of the selection and provide any passwords necessary, so judges can easily access your audition. Links must remain active until the end of the year or until results in the category are officially announced. PLEASE NOTE: The responsibility for the viability of links rests with the contestant. Please double-check that they work correctly.


4. There are no other restrictions. No materials will be returned.


SEND required email to: theamericanprz@aol.com
alternate email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

TIMELINE for this competition:
Final deadline for postmark or emailing applications: Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Applications will be acknowledged by email following that date.

In general, the entire competition process is completed before the end of the calendar year. Semi-finalists are announced in the summer, finalists in the fall, followed by winners—after which all certificates, evaluations and prizes are mailed. Specific dates for the announcement of each stage of the competition are posted in regular updates to our blog and facebook pages. Find those links on the homepage of this website.