Opera Scenes Competition

2014 COSC Flyer


2014 Competition Guidelines


Scene from Sam Houston University's
Magic Flute, 2012 COSC Div I

  • Competition is for college and university programs only.

  • All participants who advance to the finals must be current students at the time of the competition.

  • Directors must be members of NOA and pay the convention fee.
    (Directors bringing five or more students will receive a discount).

  • Each student participant will pay the student registration convention fee.

  • There is a $25.00 fee per application to enter the competition. This fee may be sent as a paper copy to the Chair of the COSC or paid on-line through PayPal on the NOA website.

  • The scene entry shall have been performed between October 15, 2012 and October 15, 2013.

  • The scene submitted for the Preliminary Round does not have to be the same scene presented in the Final Round at the convention, but it must meet the same criteria as outlined in the Guidelines below and be in the same Division. (The Preliminary Round is in place in order for an institution to advance to the finals. Schools may submit a scene in the Preliminary Round from the previous academic year which may involve singers who have since graduated or are no longer enrolled. If advanced, that school may choose to, or may need to, bring a different scene to the finals utilizing students in the same age bracket as all participants in the finals must be current students at the submitting institution.)

  • A college or university may enter more than one scene, but may not repeat singers.  Each scene selected for the finals must have individual casts.


Competition Categories:

Division I: All performers are between the ages of 18 – 23 (primarily undergraduates)
Division II: All performers are age 23 and older (primarily graduate students)

(In the case of a scene cast with mixed ages, the Committee will determine the division category by considering the average age of the cast, as well as the size of the role(s) being sung by older performers.)

Definition of a Scene:

A scene is defined as a portion of a larger, pre-existing work. Short operas or complete works under 10 minutes in length, whether older repertoire or newly composed, are not eligible for the scenes competition. Composers are encouraged to submit new works to the Chamber Opera Competition.

Length of Scene:

Suggested length of scenes submitted in both the Preliminary and Final Rounds is 8 – 10 minutes. Preliminary judges will stop reviewing submissions at the 10 minute mark. The timekeeper at the finals will stop any scene which surpasses the 10 minutes, but no penalty will accrue. There is no minimum time requirement.


Set pieces are limited to rehearsal blocks and convention hotel tables and chairs located in the meeting room in which the competition will take place. No other set pieces are to be utilized in the scene. Costumes and hand-held props are at the discretion of the director.

Performance Space:

The committee will request the largest stage available at the hotel that is not less than a 24 feet x 16 feet platform.

Judging Criteria and Procedures:

The scene will be judged on musical style and accuracy, diction, vocal quality, basic stagecraft, individual characterization and ensemble interaction, and creative use of set, props, and costumes based on the competition limitations.

Scenes that are not in the standard repertoire (new works) shall provide three copies of the music for judging purposes.

For a detailed description of the judging procedures at both the preliminary and final rounds, click here.

Preliminary Round

Application is by email which should contain a completed application (available as a Word document) as an attachment and a link to a private YouTube video or another video format. The video must be anonymous with no identifying names or photos associated with it.  The email should be received no later than 5:00 pm CST October 18, 2013 at:

The uploaded video should be labeled only with the name of the opera and scene to preserve anonymity for the preliminary judging round. There should be no other identifying features in the link or on the video itself in order to prevent disqualification.

Please feel free to contact Paul Houghtaling with any questions or if you need assistance with uploading your video to a YouTube link.

If submitting the $25 application fee by check, please send to:

Dr. Paul Houghtaling
Chair, 2014 Collegiate Opera Scenes Committee
University of Alabama School of Music
PO Box 870366
810 Second Avenue
Tuscaloosa, AL  354587-0366

Final Round

Rake's Progress
Scene from The Rake's Progress
Univ. of Colorado Boulder
2012 COSC Div. II

  • A maximum of ten finalists will advance and compete in a live performance at the National Convention in New York, NY, on Thursday, January 9, 2014.
  • Upon being moved to the finals, an official letter of invitation to the Convention shall be extended to the director by November 15, 2013.
  • Finalists will notify the COSC Chair of their acceptance and submit the Finalist Information Form no later than November 22, 2013.
  • Winners will be recognized directly after the competition. First place winners will receive an engraved plaque with second and third place winners receiving a certificate. All finalists will receive a participation certificate.
  • Video of the winning scenes may be posted on the NOA website following the January convention pending availability and a signed release by the institution granting permission to NOA to post the video. Institutions may also need to obtain permission to post the video for material not in the public domain in accordance with all relevant intellectual property statutes.


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

2013 Competition Winners

Congratulations to the winners and all finalists who competed at the Portland convention on January 3, 2013!