and Grants

The Foundation supports exceptionally talented young professional opera singers who are still taking early steps and show promise for significant careers. Prizes are awarded through live auditions; singers are selected for auditions through an online application process.

Sullivan Award winners receive $10,000 for career-related expenses and are eligible to apply for additional role preparation grants for the next five years, a unique aspect of the Foundation's commitment to early career singers. These grants are typically designated to assist with musical, dramatic, vocal, and language preparation for new professional roles, or for learning roles in new languages.

2021 auditions will be held in New York City on Sunday, November 14 and Monday, November 15. Singers must be available on at least one of these dates; there are no callbacks.

All singers invited for a live audition must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate.

Applications must be received by September 15, 2021.

Apply Online

COVID-19 Note: The Foundation is monitoring CDC guidance, public health advisories, and venue protocols and will share any updates to plans.



Applicants must have completed their academic training.


They should have sung at least one engagement with a known opera company, orchestra, or other organization using full orchestral accompaniment.


They must submit a copy of a contract or letter of intent for a professional (paid) solo engagement with full orchestra (not a cover) that opens after the auditions or in the six months prior to the auditions (after May 13, 2021).


Singers coming to the end of full-year Young Artist Programs may be chosen to audition for Sullivan awards; if they are winners, their eligibility for role preparation grants can be deferred until they have graduated from those programs.

Applications must include the following


Application Form


One-page chronological resume




Professional Contract or Letter of Intent – For a paid, professional solo engagement (no covers) with full orchestral accompaniment that opens after the audition dates or in the six months prior to the auditions (after May 13, 2021). Given the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the time for qualifying contracts for professional engagements has been extended this year; applicants may also explain atypical performance circumstances for consideration; e.g. reduced orchestration or alternate accompaniment formats.


Endorsement Letter – Written specifically for the Sullivan application by a music professional (not a current or former teacher, coach or manager, or a Sullivan trustee) who is well-acquainted with the singer’s qualifications and – ideally – has engaged them as a performer. (Please contact the Foundation with any questions about who qualifies.) Endorsers will receive a link to upload a confidential letter only after the online application is submitted.


Video Samples – Two arias in contrasting styles and languages performed with piano accompaniment and recorded within 12 months of the application deadline. Recordings should be made without acoustical enhancement or amplification. Each selection should be filmed in a single take. Videos should show the singer in full view from the audience’s perspective, and the singer’s face should be completely visible. The name of the singer and the title and composer of each aria must be included in the video. The combined length of the two arias should be no more than 15 minutes.


Sullivan Audition judges have always been distinguished artists and professionals, including:

Betty Allen

Christine Brewer

Bruce Donnell

Anthony Fogg

Richard Gaddes

Andrew Jorgensen

David Lloyd

Charles MacKay

Susanne Mentzer

Erie Mills

Evans Mirageas

John Moriarty

Craig Rutenberg

George Shirley

Marietta Simpson

Theodor Uppman

Frequently asked questions

Can singers with non-traditional career paths apply?

Yes. There is no age limit, but singers should be in the early stages of their careers.

Are singers who are not US citizens eligible to apply?

Yes, if singers are available to audition in New York. The Foundation cannot provide visa assistance; singers without US tax status may be suject to withholding on awards and grants.

Are singers ever called back for a second audition?

No, all singers invited to live auditions are only scheduled for one slot.

Are auditions open to the public?

No, auditions are not open to the public.

Does the Foundation provide pianists for the auditions?

Yes, and singers are also welcome to bring their own pianists at their own expense.

What if I have a question not addressed here?

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