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Opera Production Competition

NOA Opera Production Competition

The goal of the NOA Opera Production Competition is to further the organization’s mission by encouraging and rewarding creative, high quality opera productions at academic institutions and music conservatories.

Competition Guidelines, 2022-23 Cycle 

Competition Timeline
Submission Process
Video Guidelines

Competition Divisions
Judges and Judging
Pastiche Operas

Street Scene
2019-20 Div VI, 1st Place
Street Scene, Arizona State University

Competition Timeline

  • April 27: Submission Period opens
  • June 15: Submission Period closes
  • November 15: Winners Announced


  • Currently eligible productions are those presented between June 1, 2022, and June 15, 2023, at academic institutions.
  • The submitting institution or a member of the production team must be an NOA member, current on their dues for 2023. Dues for continuing or new members must be paid online (verify your membership status here).
  • Submission deadline is 11:59 PM PST, June 15, 2023.
  • Multiple submissions are permitted, although each producing institution will be limited to a total of two awards each competition cycle, and only one award in a single division. In the event of a school garnering multiple awards, the highest placing production(s) will be awarded.
  • Submissions should be full productions of operas or operettas. For Pastiche Operas, please see the section below to be sure your production is eligible. Scenes programs are not permitted, nor are staged art song cycles.

Submission Process

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Before you begin your application, please check to make sure your NOA membership is current.

Submission period closes 11:59 pm June 15. No late entries are accepted.

What you will need to apply:

  • A working, anonymized link to your production video on the streaming site of your choice (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). If you have more than two links, you are encouraged to combine them into one video. Please see the Video Guidelines to make sure your video is in compliance with the competition rules. Videos that are not in compliance, i.e. that reveal the production team through a water mark, name of account, etc., will be automatically disqualified with no refund of competition fees.
  • A hi-res production photo
  • Title, composer, librettist, and duration of the opera. 
    • Double-bills should be submitted as a single production / competition entry.  Please enter the information in the fields as best as you can. Please simply separate with a /, for instance:
      • Gianni Schicchi/Buoso’s Ghost; Puccini/Ching
  • Production Format: Tell us how you created your opera. Traditional staged production? Green screen and video editing? Socially distanced traditional production? Zoom? You’ll only have 120 characters, so be brief.?Examples: Traditional Staged Production; Greenscreen Film and Animation; Traditional Film; Minecraft Opera
  • If your production is a pastiche, you will be asked to upload a PDF of the run order of your show. This should be anonymized - please do not include any information that might identify your school, the names of the singers, or the names of any of the production team.
  • A cast list of up to eight named characters, along with the age and level of training (class rank/professional/faculty) of the singers playing those roles. (We are asking for both age and level of training for consideration in the case of casts with a mix of ages/levels of training.)  Please see AGMA's Schedule C for assistance in determining role sizes (e.g. Leading, Supporting, or Bit/Comprimario).
    For example:

    Adina (leading): age 24, Master’s student
    Nemorino (leading): age 40, Professional Singer/Faculty
    Belcore (leading): age 21, Junior
    Dulcamara (leading): age 32, Doctoral/Artist’s Diploma/Performer’s Certificate
    Gianetta (supporting): age 18, Sophomore

  • Complete budget, broken down by: Scenic/Projection, Costume, Lighting, and Post-production video editing
    • If pulling from stock or borrowing, include original cost of items, or an estimate.
    • Include any rental costs, but do not include shipping costs for rentals.
    • No, you do not need to include designer costs.
    • You will indicate designer level on the form (i.e. professional faculty designer, professional outside designer, grad student designer, no separate designer, or other). 
    • You do not need to include publicity costs, as that did not contribute to the quality of your production.
  • Orchestra size
  • Director’s Note, if you desire. This will be your opportunity to explain your concept and approach, any changes you may have made to the libretto, setting, etc. (1200-character limit) DO NOT simply paste the Director’s Note from the program, as any mention of your school name will render your application non-compliant and subject to disqualification.
  • Synopsis of productions that are new, rare, or in a language other than Italian, German, French, or English. It is not necessary to include a synopsis for works in the common repertory, such as Le nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, etc. (1200-character limit)
  • Pay the application fee ($25 per entry) through the NOA secure online payment area. Be aware this payment item will only be available to you if your NOA membership is current, so please check that you have paid your dues for the year well in advance of the submission deadline.

2019-20 Div III, 2nd Place
The Marriage of Figaro, Miami University

Be certain that, apart from the area of the application that specifically asks for this info, your director’s note, synopsis, video title, video description, etc., DO NOT contain information that will reveal the name of your institution, director, conductor, or other identifying information. (Please see Video Guidelines.) Incomplete and/or inaccurate applications, non-working video links, or entries for which submitted videos or explanatory statements reveal the performance venue or the name of any participating NOA member will be disqualified. Entry fees for disqualified applications will not be refunded.

By submitting a production for competition, you allow NOA to use submitted video and production photos for publicity purposes.

Video Guidelines

Due to the continuing pandemic we will continue accepting productions of all modalities: traditional, filmed, and more! Show us what you are doing to make opera happen in the time of COVID.

Please be sure that your submission does not include any identifiers. Edit to exclude titles that will reveal institution name, names of production team, etc.

  • For traditionally staged productions: video submissions must be of a complete, live, single performance or dress rehearsal with audience. Submissions that are edited from multiple performances will be disqualified.
    • The performance should be recorded with stationary cameras, although multiple cameras are permitted. Zoom and pan are acceptable and encouraged.
    • If the opera is produced in a non-traditional space that would preclude stationary cameras, this stipulation can be waived.
  • Independent microphone systems are permitted.
  • Videos should be edited to exclude bows and any other identifiers.
  • If you have the technology to superimpose surtitles, they are welcome.
  • Please ensure that the sound levels on your video submission are audible.
  • The video must be submitted as a link from a streaming platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. Note that links to non-streaming services such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, etc., are not acceptable.
    • The video title should be simply the name of the opera and the date
      • Le Nozze di Figaro – 3/11/22
    • There should be no other identifying information within the name or description of the video, the account used to upload the video, or the video itself, that will reveal the name of the institution or producing organization, conductor, or director. Do not use an account that is the name of an actual living human being, a video production company, or video editor who can in any way be connected to you or your institution.
    • The video should be “unlisted”, rather than “public” or “private”, and should not require a password to view.
  • If this is your first time submitting, and are confused about how to create an anonymous YouTube account, committee member Marc Reynolds has created this video to help guide you through the process: View tutorial video

Clever Artifice
20190-20 Div I, 1st Place
The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret, University of Missouri - St. Louis

Competition Divisions

The Opera Production Competition is divided into multiple divisions so that competitors are fairly judged against similarly cast and budgeted productions. The committee will determine division assignments after all applications have been submitted. Entries will first be divided into undergraduate and graduate levels. In the case of casts of mixed age/training, the committee will determine into which level the production will be placed. Each of these levels will then be further divided into divisions based on production size and budget.

  • Undergraduate Level – for productions whose principal cast members are predominantly undergraduate in age or training level.
    • Up to 4 divisions
  • Graduate Level – for productions whose principal cast members are predominantly graduate or adult singers in age or training level.
    • Up to 4 divisions

Please note that the NOA Opera Production Competition is for student-centered operas produced at academic institutions. While we do see an occasional faculty member or professional in a cast list, if a production has a faculty member or professional singer in a leading or featured role, that production may be placed in the graduate category even if the rest of the cast is predominantly undergraduate. Two or more faculty/professional singers in leading roles may lead to disqualification, depending on the opera and the roles. Final determination of which division a production is placed in is at the sole discretion of the NOA Opera Production Competition Committee.

Final determination of which division a production is placed is at the sole discretion of the NOA Opera Production Competition Committee.

Judges and Judging

Judges for the NOA Opera Production Competition are opera professionals and educators. The committee endeavors to recruit judges who are actively working in the field as singers, directors, producers, conductors, composers, coaches, or artist managers. NOA board members, members who are past winners in the competition, and Opera Production Competition Committee members are often invited to judge, but NOA membership is not a prerequisite to judge. At the time of publication, the committee works to curate a judging panel that does not include Competition Committee members to maintain the strictest anonymity possible.

For this year's competition, judges will sign their names to comments. Our panel includes artists who have worked at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, San Diego Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Bregenzer Festspiele, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Oper Stuttgart, Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Israeli Opera, Royal Danish Opera, and Zürich Opera among others.

Entries will be judged in the following categories:

      1. Musicianship (accuracy and musical integrity)  
      2. Quality of singing (as appropriate to the style)  
      3. Diction (clarity and accuracy)  
      4. Dramatic credibility and characterization  
      5. Production concept, staging and execution  
      6. Quality of the production (relative to the budget)

Each Division will be assigned a 3-judge panel which will judge every entry in that Division. Judges will be provided with copies of the director’s note (if submitted). Again, to preserve anonymity and avoid disqualification, these materials should contain no identifying information. The judges and the committee reserve the right to limit the number of awards in a category if, in their professional opinion, there are insufficient entries deserving of recognition.

Winners will be notified by November 15, and a complete list of winning entries, along with production photos, will be posted on the NOA website. Awards will be presented at the National Conference. NOA may also use submitted video and production photographs for publicity purposes.  

Pastiche Operas

What is a Pastiche?

To cite the basic dictionary definition:

Pasticcio (It.: ‘jumble’, ‘hotch-potch’, ‘pudding’; Fr. pastiche) An opera made up of various pieces from different composers or sources and adapted to a new or existing libretto.

Price, C.  Pasticcio. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 11 Mar. 2022, from

For the purposes of the NOA Opera Production Competition, a pastiche should be an opera pieced together from different composers and sources to create a new story. The story, dialogue, or recitative connecting the arias and ensembles may be newly created, or it may be recycled, but the pieces should be brought together to create a new, cohesive production.

Can we include art song?

Yes, but there should be operatic repertoire included, as this is an opera production competition. We would prefer that the bulk of the repertoire be drawn from opera or operetta, as this will help ensure that pastiche operas are more fairly judged against the operas and operettas in the same division.

What about this song cycle – the composer indicates it is operatic in nature…?

Because this is a competition for opera productions, we do not allow song cycles.

We put together a show comprised of different opera scenes on a similar theme. May we enter it as a pastiche?

That depends. Did you present the scenes as stand-alone scenes from these different operas? Or did you create a new story and characters that continue from scene to scene? If you merely presented different scenes on a theme, we cannot accept that as an Opera Production. However, you are welcome to submit your scenes for the NOA Robert Hansen Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition!  If your pastiche pieced these scenes into a new, cohesive storyline and production, it is likely to be allowed.


Please see our FAQ!

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Finta Semplice
2013-14 Div V, 1st Place
La Finta Semplice, U of Alabama-Birmingham