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Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition
2018-20 Competition Winner Announced!

Congratulations to Evan Mack and Joshua McGuire for winning this year's competition at the finals in Salt Lake City, Jan. 4, 2019!  Their work, The Ghosts of Gatsby, will be performed in its entirety at the 2020 National Conference in Cleveland.

Ghosts of Gatsby

The three finalist works were:

  • The Ghosts of Gatsby: music by Evan Mack, libretto by Joshua McGuire
  • The Surrogate: music by Sky Macklay, libretto by Emily Roller
  • Triangle: music by Tony Solitro, libretto by Tony Solitro, based on the play by Jane Martin

Selections from these three works were presented at the Annual Conference in Salt Lake City in January 2019, with one winning work selected for a full presentation at the following conference in January 2020.

About the Competition

The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret
Scene from The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret,
by Leanna Kirchoff, 2014-16 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).

2018-20 Competition Cycle Deadline passed - competition in progress

The submission deadline for the current round of competition (2018-2020 cycle) was May 1, 2018.


  • 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  • All submissions must be unpublished operas not accepted by a publisher for either publication or rental.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

After Life
Scene from After Life, by Tom Cipullo
and David Mason, 2016-18 winning production

  • All applications must be submitted electronically to by May 1, 2018.
  • 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, 2018, 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, 2018.

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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.

Entries will be evaluated on vocal writing, dramatic sense, musical elements, performability, and orchestration.

Past Winners

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

2018-2020: The Ghosts of Gatsby, music by Evan Mack, libretto by Joshua McGuire

2016-2018: After Life, music by Tom Cipullo, libretto by David Mason

2014-2016: The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret, music and libretto by Leanna Kirchoff

2012-2014: An Embarrassing Position, music and libretto by Dan Shore

2010-2012: Confession, by Raphael Lucas (composer) and Jacques Trussel and Margaret Vignola (librettists)

2008-2010: The Beautiful Bridegroom, music and libretto by Dan Shore

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

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.