The Robert Hansen Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition
The Robert Hansen Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition aims to recognize and promote artistic excellence in opera performance in college and university programs. Application to the preliminary round is by video submission, and selected finalist scenes are invited to perform in the festive final round at NOA's annual National Conference, with adjudication by a distinguished panel of opera professionals. The COSC also serves to draw and encourage student involvement and engagement in the full breadth of activities at the national conference. Established in 2009, the COSC competition was renamed in honor of Dr. Robert Hansen, who served NOA for over 25 years as Executive Director.
Applications are now open for the 2024 Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition, the finals of which will be held in-person during the National Conference in Phoenix/Tempe, January 2024. Deadline to apply is October 15, 2023.
2024 COSC Competition Guidelines - Phoenix/Tempe, Jan 4, 2024
- Competition is for college and university programs only, and the college/university OR submitting faculty member must be a member of NOA to apply.
- There is a $25.00 fee per application to enter the competition, paid on-line through the NOA website.
- The scene entry shall have been performed between October 15, 2022 and October 15, 2023.
- All singers in scenes that advance to the finals must be current students at the time of the competition, and the director and each singer must register for the conference (student registration rate is available).
- The scene submitted to this year's COSC Preliminary Round may not be a scene submitted to a past COSC preliminary round.
- 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 per college/university will be offered a chance to advance to the finals in each division. 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. (This does not apply to Graduate Teaching Assistants).
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.)
All scenes in the finals shall be performed with piano accompaniment only.
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 eight minutes in length are not eligible for the scenes 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 six to eight minutes. Preliminary judges will stop reviewing submissions at the eight-minute mark. The timekeeper at the finals will stop any scene that exceeds eight minutes, but no penalty will accrue. There is no minimum time requirement.
Set pieces are limited to rehearsal blocks, tables and chairs. 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.
Scenes will be performed on a raised stage at least 24 feet wide and 18 feet deep, with minimal pipe and drape to create stage entrances. Performers should plan to be flexible in order to adapt to the specific stage configuration employed at the conference hotel.
Stage direction should include blocking/staging that is original to the best of the director’s ability, and not a replica of the original production(s) or any other widely available video production.
NB: Stage directions in the score do not constitute plagiarism. Stage movement and choreography that appear to copy documented professional productions may constitute plagiarism and disqualify the submitting organization.
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 at the final round for judging purposes.
For a detailed description of the judging procedures at both the preliminary and final rounds, click here.
The application is available as an online form, which will require you to supply a link to a YouTube video or other streaming 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 application must be submitted no later than 5:00 pm CST October 15, 2023.
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 Jen Stephenson (below) with any questions or if you need assistance with uploading your video to a YouTube link.
Final Round (2024 Phoenix/Tempe)
- A maximum of twelve finalists, four (4) in each division, will advance and compete in a live performance at the National Conference in Tempe, AZ, on Thursday, January 4, 2024.
- 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, 2023.
- Finalists must respond with their acceptance to the COSC Chair and submit the Finalist Information Form no later than 5:00 p.m., November 22, 2023.
- 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.
- Responsibility for obtaining any and all relevant licenses or permissions for performance of the work at the finals is the responsibility of the submitting institution.
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:
Jen Stephenson, competition chair, at , or to
Kirk Severtson, Executive Director, at or by calling 734.615.3784.