The Foundation supports exceptionally talented early career opera singers who show significant promise. Prizes are awarded through live auditions; singers are selected for auditions through an online application process that includes videos.
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. The judges may also decide to award Career Development Grants at the auditions ($2,500 each in 2023).
2023 auditions were held in New York City on October 29 and 30. 2024 audition plans and the online application link will be posted here. Travel reimbursement assistance is available for singers coming from outside the New York metro area.
1Applicants must have completed their academic training.
2They should have sung at least one professional engagement with an opera company, orchestra, or other organization using full orchestral accompaniment.
3They must submit a copy of a contract or letter of intent for a professional, paid, solo engagement with full orchestra (not a cover) either after the audition date or in the six months prior to the auditions.
4Singers 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.
5There is no age limit for applicants, but the Foundation is not seeking singers who already have well-established solo careers. Applicants may not have more than one past or upcoming contract for a leading or featured role (AGMA classifications) as an independent artist, excluding covers, with an OPERA America Budget Level I Company* or its international equivalent. If there are questions about what engagements fit these criteria, the Foundation’s application panel will make the final determination. If the Foundation discovers that singers have omitted relevant past or upcoming engagements, they will be disqualified from the auditions.
*OPERA America Budget Level 1 Companies: Washington National Opera; Seattle Opera; Santa Fe Opera; San Francisco Opera; Detroit Opera; Metropolitan Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Los Angeles Opera; Houston Grand Opera; Dallas Opera; Canadian Opera Company
6The Foundation welcomes applications from singers of all nationalities but focuses its support on singers affiliated with North American companies, programs, and educational institutions. Singers must be available to audition in New York, and the Foundation cannot provide visa assistance; singers without US tax status may be subject to withholding on awards and grants.
2One-page chronological resume
4Professional Solo 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.
5Endorsement Letter – Written specifically for the Sullivan application by a music professional who is well-acquainted with the singer’s qualifications and – ideally – has engaged them as a performer. Current or former personal voice teachers, coaches, managers, and Sullivan trustees are not eligible to write endorsement letters.
6Videos – Two arias in contrasting styles and two different languages performed with piano accompaniment.
Sullivan Audition judges have always been distinguished artists and professionals, including: