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Dominick Argento Fellowship for Opera Composition
Application deadline: October 15, 2023 - deadline has passed


The National Opera Association (NOA) is pleased to announce the DOMINICK ARGENTO FELLOWSHIP FOR OPERA COMPOSITION, one of two fellowship programs made possible through a generous endowment established by the prominent American composer Dominick Argento (1927-2019). This fellowship will be awarded to an outstanding opera composition student in January 2024 from among those who apply.

The fellowship will provide full graduate-level tuition and living expenses to a composer who attends or will attend a U.S. accredited post-secondary educational institution in a degree program for graduate study in composition, up to a maximum of $50,000 per year.  The funding will be provided until completion of the degree, up to two years for a master’s-level degree (e.g. MM) or three years for a doctoral-level degree (e.g. PhD or DMA)

The award will cover full tuition and applicable degree-related fees assessed by the institution, which will be paid directly to the institution on the student’s behalf each semester.  In addition, the award will provide a stipend based on the institution’s projected per-student living expenses, which will be paid directly to the recipient, once per semester or quarter depending on the institution.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, the fellowship will only cover tuition, fees and living expenses that are unmet from other scholarship, grant, or assistantship sources.

Future competitions for successive fellowships will be announced as the funding becomes available, upon degree completion of the previous recipient.

Dominick Argento
Dominick Argento


In order to be considered and participate in the competition, applicants must:

  • have completed an appropriate undergraduate program, or the equivalent, qualifying the applicant for admission to one of the eligible programs, or be in the last quarter/semester/year of such program at the time of the competition;
  • submit a completed application form by October 15, 2023 (there is no fee to enter the competition);
  • have a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA in either their current program or their last completed degree (finalists will be asked to provide academic transcript(s) as proof at a later date);
  • intend to enroll in a graduate degree in composition, or already be enrolled in an eligible graduate program with at least one quarter/semester remaining before degree completion; and
  • have, or expect to have, financial need (tuition, fees, and living expenses unmet by other scholarships, grants, or assistantships) of at least $5,000 per year for their intended/current degree program.

Although applicants may compete prior to being accepted to or matriculating into an eligible degree program, if selected to receive the fellowship, the recipient must enroll in an eligible degree at a U.S. accredited post-secondary institution, beginning work on a full-time basis no later than the fall semester immediately following the competition. The winner of the fellowship may request a deferral for up to one year by written notification to NOA and the Foundation. Eligible degree programs include the following:

  • Master of Music in Composition;
  • Master of Arts in Composition;
  • Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition; and
  • Graduate or Postgraduate-Level Diploma in Composition.

Programs which are substantially similar may be eligible as determined by NOA in its sole discretion, but a candidate must make application for an exception to the NOA at least thirty days prior to the competition so NOA may make decisions on whether to grant the waiver prior to the competition.

There are no residency or nationality requirements for this fellowship.  Selection will be made without regard for race, color, religion, national origin, disability status, marital status, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identification of the candidate.

In the event that the selected recipient does not enroll in a graduate-level degree program in composition at a U.S. accredited post-secondary institution; their financial need (tuition, fees, and living expenses unmet by other scholarships, grants, or assistantships) is determined to be less than $5,000 per year; or is otherwise deemed to be ineligible, the fellowship award may be rescinded and instead offered to an alternate recipient.

Submission Guidelines

  • Applicants must complete and submit the application form by October 15, 2023
  • The application will require you to provide audio file(s) and score(s) to approximately ten minutes (one to three pieces or excerpts of pieces) of original music for voice in genres such as opera, music theatre, dramatic song, song, choral, and a cappella. No purely instrumental music will be considered or listened to.
  • Links to high quality audio and/or audio-visual recordings (.wav, .flac, etc.) on sites such as Soundcloud, YouTube, professional websites, etc., are preferred.  High quality MP3 files (maximum 10Mb each) may also be attached to the online application form.  For audio, pure MIDI playback files are discouraged.
  • Entrants should also submit scores in PDF format that match the recordings exactly. If submitting vocal works with orchestrations, piano vocal reductions are preferred.

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Adjudication Process

Applications will be reviewed by a distinguished panel drawn from established opera/vocal composers and opera-producing professionals, with finalists selected on the basis of applicants' submitted materials, demonstrated compositional ability, interest in and aptitude for pursuit of opera composition, and potential for academic success in the chosen graduate program.

Fellowship finalists will be notified by early-December and interviewed by the panel.  Finalists will also be asked to provide a copy of their academic transcript for their current or last completed degree, as well as documentation of unmet financial need for the degree for which they are seeking the fellowship.  The selected recipient(s) will be announced by mid-December 2023.

Fellowship Post-Award Follow-Up

The fellowship recipient must provide proof of matriculation by April 15, 2024, and if not already enrolled in an eligible degree program, begin in the Fall 2024 semester/quarter, unless deferred.

Funding will be available to the recipient beginning either Spring 2024 or Fall 2024 semester, depending on the recipient’s course of study. Continued fellowship funding for up to two or three years is contingent on the recipient making reasonable progress toward degree completion, maintenance of a 3.0 minimum grade point average (or equivalent), and continuous full-time enrollment (excluding summers and an approved medical leave of absence not to exceed one year), and is subject to review each semester/quarter.

The recipient agrees to provide publicity materials such as a headshot, biography, and audio/video recordings to NOA for promotional use, and to make themselves available for interview or publicity requests related to the fellowship for the duration of the award.