Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition

2014-2016 Competition Cycle

Congratulations to the 2014-16 winner:

The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret
Leanna Kirchoff, Composer and Librettist

The winning opera will be presented in its entirety at our national convention in 2016.

Portions of the three finalist works were presented for judging at the national convention in Greensboro.  The finalists were:

  • The Dawn Makers by Allen Shearer, composer, Claudia Stevens, librettist
  • The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret by Leanna Kirchoff, composer and librettist
  • The Lady of Shalott by Christopher Weiss, composer, S. O’Duinn Magee, librettist. 

About the Competition

Embarrassing Position
Scene from An Embarrassing Position,
by Dan Shore, 2012-14 winning production

The Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition encourages the composition and performance of short operas especially useful in opera workshops and other training venues. The competition runs in two-year cycles. In the first year, composers submit scores for preliminary judging. Three finalists are chosen and excerpts from those operas are presented at the annual convention (odd years) for competition. The winning opera, chosen from among the three finalists, is produced in its entirety at the NOA convention the following year (even years).

2016-18 Competition Cycle

Revised guidelines for the next cycle will be posted when available.  The deadline for submissions for this cycle will be May 1, 2016.

Below are the guidelines for the previous competition cycle, for reference.

Eligibility (previous cycle)

  • The Chamber Opera Competition is open to all composers, regardless of age or nationality.
  • All submissions must be unpublished operas not accepted by a publisher for either publication or rental.
  • Performance of a work (unless by a major opera company) does not disqualify it for submission.
  • Language: English
  • Length: No more than 60 minutes
  • Orchestration: Maximum of 20 players

Submission Procedure (previous cycle)

  • All entries must include a complete piano-vocal score. Each score must have a title page that indicates the cast of characters with voice types, and the size and instrumentation of the orchestra. THE NAMES OF THE COMPOSER AND LIBRETTIST MUST NOT APPEAR ON THE TITLE PAGE.
  • For works that have been fully or partially recorded or videotaped, submission of an audio- or videotape with the piano-vocal score is recommended. Orchestration must be indicated, but a full orchestral score should not be submitted.
  • Judging is blind; therefore composers must remove all identifying labels and printed names from scores, recordings, and videotapes to assure anonymity.
  • A completed application form (available as a Word document or PDF form) and payment of a $25 fee must accompany each submission, or be made at the Secure online payment area (external link). Each entry must include a separate envelope, with sufficient postage affixed, for return of materials. If a return envelope is not provided, scores will not be returned.
  • A composer may submit more than one opera provided that each conforms to competition guidelines.

Selection Procedure

A distinguished panel of composers and opera directors will select the winning finalists. Scenes from three operas chosen as finalists will be presented in a showcase performance at the NOA annual convention in January of odd years. The opera chosen as the winner of the NOA Chamber Opera Competition will be performed in a full production at the convention in even years.

Past Winners

University of Memphis production of The Confession,
by Raphael Lucas, 2012 winner

2014-2016: The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret, music and libretto by Leanna Kirchoff, selected from the three finalists at the 2015 Convention, and performed in its entirety at the 2016 Convention.

2012-2014: An Embarrassing Position, music and libretto by Dan Shore, performed at the 2014 convention.

2010-2012: Confession, by Raphael Lucas (composer) and Jacques Trussel and Margaret Vignola (librettists), performed at the 2012 convention.

2008-2010: The Beautiful Bridegroom, by Dan Shore (music and libretto), performed at the 2010 convention.

2006-2008: Tony Caruso's Final Broadcast, by Paul Salerni (composer) and Dana Gioia (librettist), performed at the 2008 convention.

2004-2006: Where the Cross is Made, by Nancy Van de Vate (composer and librettist).


Questions regarding the competition may be addressed to:
Linda Lister, competition chair, at , or to
Robert Hansen, Executive Director, at or by calling 806-651-2857.