and Grants

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.



Applicants must have completed their academic training.


They should have sung at least one professional engagement with an 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) either after the audition date or in the six months prior to the auditions.


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.


There 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


The 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.

Application Materials


Application Form


One-page chronological resume




Professional 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.


Endorsement 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.


Videos – Two arias in contrasting styles and two different languages performed with piano accompaniment.


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

Betty Allen

Christine Brewer

Vinson Cole

Khori Dastoor

Bruce Donnell

Anthony Fogg

Richard Gaddes

Andrew Jorgensen

David Lloyd

Charles MacKay

Ana María Martínez

Dr. Everett McCorvey

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 and not yet well-established as solo artists. See guideline #5 above.

Are there any application or audition fees?

No, there are no fees to apply or audition.

Is travel assistance available?

Yes, the Foundation has limited travel reimbursement funds. If singers need to travel to New York for the audition, they may request reimbursement for documented travel expenses up to a maximum amount.

Are singers ever called back for a second audition?

No, all singers invited to live auditions are only scheduled for one slot. There are no callbacks or finals.

Do you offer virtual auditions?

No, all live auditions are held in person.

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 is the dress code for auditions?

Professional attire. Formal concert attire is not required or expected.

What if I have a question not addressed here?

We are here to help! Click here to contact us with any questions.