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Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition

Announcing: The Robert Hansen Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition

NOA is proud to announce the renaming of the COSC competition in honor of Dr. Robert Hansen, who recently completed 25 years of service to NOA when he stepped down as Executive Director in January 2020.  The Robert Hansen NOA Fund was established by the Board of Directors to support the COSC competition as well as other priorities of NOA.  Read more about this announcement! 

2020 COSC Competition Guidelines (Past year's guidelines)

The guidelines and application for the 2021 competition, to be held in St. Augustine, FL, in January 2021, will be announced in the coming months. Please stay tuned!


Scene from Falsettos
presented by Texas Tech University, 2020 COSC
Held at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

  • 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 conference fee.
    (Directors bringing five or more students will receive a discount).
  • Each student participant will pay the student registration conference fee.
  • There is a $25.00 fee per application to enter the competition. This fee may be sent in the form of a check made out to NOA to the Chair of the COSC or paid on-line through the NOA website. If payment is done online, a receipt of proof of online payment must be included as an attachment to the submission email, along with the application and the video entry.
  • The scene entry shall have been performed between October 15, 2018 and October 15, 2019.
  • The scene submitted for the Preliminary Round does not have to be the same scene presented in the Final Round at the conference, 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 AND singers may appear in more than one scene submitted in the preliminaries.  However, only one scene from a given school will be offered a chance to advance to the finals in each division.  Only one scene advancing to the finals in each division also applies to entries from the same school but different departments or directors.  If a school submits entries in more than one division and advances to the finals, no singer may appear in more than one division of the competition finals, regardless of the average age of the students in the scene.
  • If a student at a college or university also holds faculty status of any kind at that institution, that student is ineligible and may not appear in a submitted scene.



Competition Divisions

Opera Division I: All performers are between the ages of 18 and 22 (primarily undergraduates)
Opera Division II: All performers are age 23 and older (primarily graduate students)
Musical Theatre: All performers are between the ages of 18 and 22 (primarily undergraduates). See Musical Theatre repertoire guidelines below.

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


Operatic literature of all styles and periods is eligible for submission into both opera categories. Standard operetta literature, such as material by Gilbert & Sullivan, Friml, Lehár, Johann Strauss, and others, will be included in the appropriate opera division.

It is suggested that repertoire in the Musical Theatre division be drawn primarily from the traditional or “legit” signing style.  Scenes which necessitate exclusively heavy belting or pop-rock techniques will not be eligible.  Scenes which involve appropriate belting or chest-predominant singing styles for certain characters, however, are acceptable. 

In all divisions, the quality of singing and vocal technique will be strongly considered.

Definition of a Scene

A scene is defined as a portion of a larger, published work. Short operas, musicals, or complete works under 8 minutes in length are not eligible for the scenes competition. Composers are encouraged to submit new operas to the Chamber Opera Competition. All submitted scenes must be from a show which has already received a full production by a professional opera or musical theatre company or a university/college program.

Length of Scene

Suggested length of scenes submitted in both the Preliminary and Final Rounds is 6–8 minutes. Preliminary judges will stop reviewing submissions at the 8 minute mark. The timekeeper at the finals will stop any scene which surpasses 8 minutes, but no penalty will accrue. There is no minimum time requirement.

Hansel and Gretel
Scene from Hansel and Gretel
SUNY Purchase
2014 COSC Div. I


Set pieces are limited to rehearsal blocks and conference 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. Hand props are defined as a small object which is carried or handled by an actor. Please be sure that the hand props you use are not too fragile or perishable to avoid accidents on stage.

Performance Space

The committee will request the largest stage available at the hotel that is not less than a 24 feet x 18 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 YouTube video or another video format. The video must be anonymous with no identifying names or photos associated with it. Please do not submit a scene which requires a password. The video may be public or on a private channel as long as it meets all standards of anonymity and is directly accessible to the judge via the submitted link. The email should be received no later than 5:00 pm CST October 15, 2019 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.

Submitting video in the correct format is the responsibility of the submitting director. The COSC chair will not be available to format or alter video files.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Dawn Neely 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. Dawn Neely
Chair, 2020 Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition
Chair, NOA COSC Committee
University of West Georgia
1601 Maple Street
Carrollton, GA 30118


Final Round

Fille du Regiment
Scene from Fille du Regiment
University of TX Brownsville
2014 COSC Div. I

  • A maximum of twelve finalists, four (4) in each division, will advance and compete in a live performance at the National Conference in Cleveland, on Thursday, January 9, 2020.
  • Upon being moved to the finals, an official letter of invitation to the conference shall be extended by email to the director by November 15, 2019.
  • Finalists will notify the COSC Chair of their acceptance and submit the Finalist Information Form no later than 5:00 p.m., November 22, 2019.
  • Winners will be recognized directly after the competition. First and second place will be awarded in each of the three divisions. First place winners will receive an engraved plaque with second 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 conference 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.


Helpful Financial Information

We encourage all entrants to begin seeking financial support upon entering the preliminary round of the Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition. Should your entry advance to the finals, you can expect to pay travel and lodging for you and your students; the student registration fee for each student; the regular registration fee for the member; and additional expenses such as meals and local transportation.  If you bring your own pianist, the pianist does not need to register, but participation in other events and conference meals will not be available.

NOA can furnish a collaborative pianist for your scene at no cost should your entry advance to the finals.  This will include one 15-minute rehearsal the evening before the competition as well as the performance.  No additional rehearsals will be available.  We hope this helps in your planning, and NOA is a help in this regard.


Questions regarding the competition may be addressed to:
Dawn Neely, competition chair, at , or to
Kirk Severtson, Executive Director, at or by calling 734.615.3784.