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Annual Scholarly Papers Competition (2023 Cycle) - deadline has passed

Scholarly investigation is indispensable to the field of opera, especially as a basis for production and performance.

The National Opera Association is pleased to announce its Thirty-Ninth Scholarly Papers Competition, 2023, for outstanding scholarly papers on operatic subjects.


The competition is open to any interested author. Membership in NOA is not required.

No application fee is required. Deadline for submission: October 15, 2023

Author notification: November 16, 2023

Previous winners of this competition may not re-apply, but are strongly encouraged to submit articles for consideration to The Opera Journal, an NOA publication.


The scholarly paper should explore an operatic subject, present significant research and conclusions, and include an extensive bibliography citing primary, secondary and, if applicable, tertiary sources. Authors should follow these guidelines:

  • Papers on a topic related to scholarship in the field of operatic performance or research are welcome.

  • Papers should be between 4000 and 6000 words in length.

  • In order to best serve students and less established scholars, the competition is open to students, adjunct and contingent faculty, and junior or pre-tenure faculty. (Regardless of eligibility for the scholarly paper competition, all are encouraged to submit to The Opera Journal.)

  • The paper's title, 100-word abstract, the name of its author, address, telephone, email information, and 150-word biography should be provided on the application form in a separate attachment. Please note: committee members reading papers do not see identifying information, and bios are held for use in the conference program if the paper is selected.

  • Only the title should appear on the title page; the author's name and any identifying affiliations should not appear anywhere on the paper submission.

  • Only one submission per person is admissible and must be accompanied by a statement confirming that the paper is not under copyright by any party other than the author and that it has not been previously published.

  • Papers previously presented orally are eligible as long as they have not or will not be published in any proceedings.

  • Paper topics may be as broad as the field of opera itself, which includes historical and theoretical analysis of the music and libretto (along lines of current and past critical theory and translation thereof), singing, acting, costuming, stagecraft, theater, etc.

  • The jury will consider the clarity and quality of the writing, the timeliness, creativity and innovation of the research. The panel will also assess the paper's suitability for publication in The Opera Journal.

See also the Guidelines for Submissions for further information.


The winner will be invited to read her/his paper during the Scholarly Papers Session at NOA's National Conference in January 2024 in Tempe, AZ. The Leland Fox Scholarly Paper Stipend of $500 will be awarded to the reader of a winning paper at the national conference.

The winning paper will be published in The Opera Journal after going through the standard editorial process with the Executive Editors.

Copies of papers not selected, accompanied by the committee's critiques, will be forwarded to the editor of the journal for possible consideration for publication.

Submission Procedure

There is no application fee for the competition.

Papers must be submitted electronically as a Word or a PDF file using the online form. Inquiries about the competition may be addressed to:

, NOA Research Committee Chairperson

Submit Paper  Email Question

Recent Scholarly Paper Winners

2023 Winner

Kristen Clough
Kristen Clough
2023 Winner

The winner of the 2023 Scholarly Paper Competition was Kristen Clough: "Liberating the Opéra: Cultural Politics, Subversion, and Milhaud’s ‘failed’ Bolivar"; Dr. Clough was invited to present her paper in January 2024 at the national conference in Phoenix/Tempe.

Milhaud’s opera Bolivar has received little scholarly attention. Narratives of its ‘failure’ stem to its 1950 Paris premiere and the “Querelle Bolivar” it sparked in the press. This paper reveals Bolivar’s subversive nature that referenced the French Resistance and French grand opera. The reception of Bolivar shifted because of turbulent political climates which opened Milhaud up to anti-Semitic criticism and Bolivar to anti-colonial interpretations. Examining these cultural-political pressures increases our understanding of both Bolivar and this understudied period in French operatic history.

Kristen Clough specializes in French operatic studies, cultural-political histories of music, and the intersections of religion and music. She holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation work “Opera in Crisis? Revealing the Cultural and Political Impact of French Fourth Republic Opera, 1945-1958” was supported by a Lurcy Trust fellowship and guided by Dr. Jane F. Fulcher. Dr. Clough holds a BA in Music Education summa cum laude from Providence College, where her focus was vocal studies. She currently teaches courses on American popular music at the University of Arizona where she is engaged in diversity-oriented and student-centered curriculum design. She worked for the Gershwin Initiative leading undergraduate student research. She has presented her work at conferences and published on Poulenc’s operas in The Musicology Review.

2022 Winner

Breena Loraine
Breena Loraine
2022 Winner

The winner of the 2022 Scholarly Paper Competition was Breena Loraine: "The 'Feminine Other': Italian Opera, the Female Body, and the Society of Dilettanti in Mid-Eighteenth Century London"; Dr. Loraine was invited to present her paper in January 2023 at the national conference in Houston.

Dr. Breena Loraine is a vocalist and musicologist specializing in film and television music, opera, and early music. She earned her PhD in Musicology from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as the Graduate Certificate in Early Modern Studies from UCLA’s Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies in 2020. She also holds an MBA with a specialization in Management, a BM in Vocal Performance and Business Administration, and the Honors Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies from San Diego State University. Dr. Loraine has designed and instructed courses at UCLA and SDSU. Her publications include four articles in Hollywood Heroines: The Most Influential Women in Film History. She currently freelances as a consulting musicologist for film and television.

2021 Winner

Lydia Bechtel
Rebekah Erdman
2021 Winner

The winner of the 2021 Scholarly Paper Competition was Rebekah Erdman: "The Immortal Hour of the English Choral Drama."

Rebekah Erdman is a PhD student in musicology at the University of Iowa. She holds a MM in Clarinet Performance from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a BM in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Rebekah’s research explores the music of late-nineteenth and twentieth century Great Britain, with an emphasis on the Pastoral style. Her other research interests include women in music, chamber music, and music history pedagogy. She has worked with students of all ages, shared her research in various formats locally and regionally, and currently serves as co-president for The Musicology Society at Iowa.

2020 Winner

Lydia Bechtel
Lydia Bechtel
2020 Winner

The winner of the 2020 Scholarly Paper Competition was Lydia Bechtel: "Cast a Diva as Fidès: Pauline Viardot’s Collaborative Role in Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Le Prophète."  A video presentation based on the winning paper was presented in January 2021 at the virtual national conference.

Dr. Lydia Bechtel recently graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City earning her DMA in Vocal Performance and MM in Musicology. She currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Applied Voice at Northwest Missouri State University, and a Lecturer of Music History at Pittsburg State University. As a voice professor, scholar, and performer Bechtel actively promotes diversifying the classical music canon. She received the prestigious P.E.O. Scholar Award in 2019, which allowed her to travel and complete research on Pauline Viardot in the U.S. and France. Dr. Bechtel has previously presented her research at the CMS and ATMI national conferences.

2018 Winner

The winner of the 2018 Scholarly Paper Competition was Lisa Pollock Mumme: "Angelica di voce: Ángelica Peralta as Nineteenth Century Diva."  The winning paper was presented in January 2019 at the conference in Salt Lake City.

Lisa Pollock Mumme finished her Masters in Musicology at the University of Iowa in 2019. Lisa’s thesis work concerns music in dystopian film, specifically the shifting musical characterizations of gender in the Mad Max franchise. Her secondary area of research concerns the nineteenth-century Mexican opera singer and composer Ángela Peralta. Lisa’s work on Peralta engages conflicting perceptions of Peralta as a nineteenth-century diva and analyzes the intersections of music, text, and the voice in Peralta’s compositions. Lisa looks forward to developing both streams of research as she continues her studies.

2017 Winner

Jared Hedges
Jared Hedges
2017 Winner

The winner of the 2017 Scholarly Paper Competition was Jared Hedges: "Ekphrasis and Frank Martin's Aesthetic Ethic in Der Sturm."  The winning paper was presented in January 2018 at the convention in New Orleans.

Jared Hedges holds degrees in music composition and English literature from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master’s degree in composition from the University of Iowa. In 2016, his song cycle Nellie Bly at Blackwell's Island was a finalist in the NATS Art Song Composition Competition. His music has been performed throughout the United States and in Canada by musicians such as the JACK Quartet and the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

Abstract: "A close listening to Frank Martin’s operatic setting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest reveals an insightful allegory of its composer’s aesthetic, in which Martin explores his fears and uses for serialism while pursuing a faithful ekphrasis or musical translation of the original text."


Recent Scholarly Papers

Scholarly Papers 2023

Liberating the Opéra: Cultural Politics, Subversion, and Milhaud’s ‘failed’ Bolivar
Kristen Clough

Scholarly Papers 2022

The 'Feminine Other': Italian Opera, the Female Body, and the Society of Dilettanti in Mid-Eighteenth Century London
Breena Loraine

Scholarly Papers 2021

The Immortal Hour of the English Choral Drama
Rebekah Erdman

Scholarly Papers 2020

Cast a Diva as Fidès: Pauline Viardot’s Collaborative Role in Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Le Prophète
Lydia Bechtel

Scholarly Papers 2018

Angelica di voce: Ángelica Peralta as Nineteenth Century Diva
Lisa Mumme

Scholarly Papers 2017

Ekphrasis and Frank Martin's Aesthetic Ethic in Der Sturm
Jared Hedges

Scholarly Papers 2016

Puccini’s Grotesque West: Exoticism and Appropriation in La fanciulla del west
C.A. Norling

Scholarly Papers 2015

Fifty Years Later: Reflections on Douglas Moore’s Carry Nation (1966), the University of Kansas’s Centennial Contribution to the American “Year of Opera”
Monica Hershberger

Scholarly Papers 2014

Cultural Translatio and Arne Artaxerxes
Richard Torre

Scholarly Papers 2013

Love and Redemption: The Unfulfilled Passion, the Dissatisfied Dream, and the Chilvaric Duty in Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde
Meghann Anneliese Dailey

Scholarly Papers 2012

Spanish Operatic Identity vis-a-vis Bizet's Carmen
Luis Gustavo Castro-Ramirez

Scholarly Papers 2011

Recitative for the Peuple
Julia I. Doe, Yale University

Operatic Achievements on the European Scale: 19th Century Mexico
Anna Ochs, University of Chicago

Scholarly Papers 2010

Medée et son pouvoir: Music and Dramatic Structure in Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Medée
Alison DeSimone, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Enacting the Nation on Stage: Style, Subjects and Themes in American Opera Librettos of the 1910s
Aaron Ziegel, Urbana, Illinois

Scholarly Papers 2009

The Evolution of American Opera: Robert Ward’s The Crucible
Dr. Robert Kolt, Indiana University – South Bend

The Face That Launched A Hundred Arieas: Helen of Troy and the Reversal of a Reputation in Seventeenth-century Venetian Opera
Reba Wissner, Brandeis University

Scholarly Papers 2008

Wagner, Appia, and “Authorial Intention”
Dr. David Ronis, Queens College

Between Scenes: Transitions and Wagnerian Form
Dr. David Smyth, Louisiana State University