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 was 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 in 2015.  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

The deadline for submissions for this application cycle has passed (May 1, 2016). Please stay tuned for an announcement of finalists, to be presented in Santa Barbara in January 2017.


  • The Chamber Opera Competition is open to all applicants, 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  • All submissions must be unpublished operas not accepted by a publisher for either publication or rental.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
  • Applicants may submit more than one opera provided that each conforms to competition guidelines.


Submission Procedure

  • All applications must be submitted electronically by May 1, 2016.
  • A completed application form (available as a Word document or PDF form) should be attached to the email submission.
  • Judging is blind; therefore applicants must remove all identifying information from scores and any provided recordings to assure anonymity to the adjudicating panel.
  • A complete piano-vocal score must be submitted in PDF format, sent as an email attachment (in case of files that are too large to attach, a web link to the file is acceptable). The score must include 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 anywhere on the title page, in the score, or in the filename. While the orchestration (actual or planned) must be indicated, full orchestral scores should not be submitted, as they will not be reviewed.
  • For works that have been fully or partially recorded or videotaped, applicants are encouraged to provide a link to audio or video recording(s).  Please ensure that any provided links to media (on Youtube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc.) will be accessible for committee review through Sept 1, 2016, and that they will not contain any identifying information (including account names on the service!).
  • Finally, for submissions to be accepted and reviewed, payment of a $25 fee must be made at the Secure online payment area (external link), also due May 1, 2016.

Selection Procedure

A distinguished panel of composers and opera directors select the winning finalists. Scenes from three operas chosen as finalists are 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 is then 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), adapted from a play by Eugene O'Neill.


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.