Kurt Weill Foundation Invites Applications From Vocalists for Lotte Lenya Competition

Posted by Kurt Weill Foundation For Music ; Posted on 
Kurt Weill Foundation Invites Applications From Vocalists for Lotte Lenya Competition



In 1998, to honor the centenary of the birth of Lotte Lenya (1898-1981), an extraordinary singer/actress and one of the foremost interpreters of the music of her husband, Kurt Weill (1900-1950), the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music established an annual Lotte Lenya Competition.

The Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented singer/actors of all nationalities, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, including the works of Kurt Weill.

Total prizes exceed $75,000; individual prizes range from $500 (semi-finals) to $20,000 (finals).


Open to singer/actors of all nationalities, ages 19–32 (born after 15 April 1985 and before 23 January 1999).

First, Second, and Third Prizewinners from previous years are ineligible to compete in subsequent competitions. Winners of discretionary awards (Lys Symonette, Carolyn Weber, Marc Blitzstein, and Kurt Weill Awards) may compete again so long as they select repertoire different from what they were previously recognized for.


Contestants must perform a program that contains four selections, one from each category outlined below:

one theatrical selection (any genre) by Kurt Weill
Weill selection(s) must be sung in their original theatrical versions and language. However, in this category only, authorized English translations for selections from The Threepenny Opera (English lyrics by Marc Blitzstein or Michael Feingold) and Happy End (English lyrics by Michael Feingold) will also be permitted.

one song from the “Golden Age” (pre-1968) American musical theater repertoire
Contestants must perform the stage version of the song as it is contained in the piano-vocal score of the show (not in “selections” format, or from a film or popular adaptation of the work). American musical theater selections must be sung in English.

Contestants may also select a Weill song written for Broadway as their pre-1968 musical theater selection. Note, however, that multiple Weill selections should be contrasting (in genre, style, and/or language).

one song from the American musical theater repertoire of 1968 or later
Contestants must perform the stage version of the song as it is contained in the piano-vocal score of the show (not in “selections” format, or from a film or popular adaptation of the work). American musical theater selections must be sung in English.

one aria from the operatic or operetta repertoire
The opera/operetta aria must be sung in its original musical version, key, and language. Contestants may also choose a selection from an opera/operetta by Weill for this category. Again, please note that multiple Weill selections should be contrasting.

Contestants are encouraged to choose contrasting selections, which may be performed in any order. To effectively demonstrate that you are a multi-dimensional performer, in constructing your program consider the mood, tempo, length, vocal range, musical style, and characters being portrayed. The program must be performed from memory.

The total length of the program must not exceed 15 minutes. This may necessitate judicious internal cuts, but contestants must be prepared to sing the number unabridged if so requested by the judges.


Judges score each of the four selections on a scale from 1 to 10, with a “10” being “as perfect as one could reasonably expect to experience the number.” Additionally, there is a fifth category, also scored 1 to 10, called “Overall Impact,” which includes consideration of diversity of repertoire and vocal production, level of difficulty and risk-taking, and range of style, languages, and characterization. Each contestant therefore can achieve a maximum score of 50 from each judge. Prizewinners almost invariably receive scores averaging an “8” or above for all four selections and also score high in the “overall impact” category.


Preliminary Auditions

  • Each contestant must upload a preliminary video audition through Vimeo with his/her online application form.
  • Contestants will need to create a free account, upload the video, and set it to private with the password Lenya2018. (More detailed instructions may be found on the application form.)
  • Audition videos must include all four required repertoire selections.
  • Deadline 22 January 2018.

Your video should approximate a live audition; the view of the camera should include your whole body and allow you to move as you perform your selections. It is permissible to cut between selections. The accompanist need not be visible in the video. Make sure that you maximize audio quality and screen size, particularly if video is produced using a smartphone.


  • Contestants will be notified by 5 February if they are being invited to the Semi-Final auditions in New York City at the
  • Manhattan School of Music on Thursday, 8 March or Friday, 9 March 2018.
  • Travel stipends are available to semi-finalists traveling more than 100 miles.
  • Contestants may utilize a staff accompanist, which will be provided free of charge.


  • Contestants will be notified by 12 March if they are invited to the Finals in Rochester, NY.
  • Finals will take place in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music on Saturday, 14 April 2018.
  • Travel stipends are available to all finalists.
  • Contestants may utilize staff accompanists (with 1 hour private rehearsal prior to day of competition), who will be provided without fee.

$20,000 First Prize
$15,000 Second Prize
$10,000 Third Prize

Discretionary Awards
$5,000 Kurt Weill Award
$3,500 Lys Symonette Award(s)
$3,500 Carolyn Weber Award(s)
$3,500 Marc Blitzstein Award(s)

All finalists will receive an award of $1,000. Judges’ discretionary prizes are customarily awarded.

New in 2018, the Kurt Weill Award, for outstanding performance of at least two contrasting selections by Kurt Weill, one in English, one in French or German.

Lys Symonette Awards are given in recognition of various aspects of individual performance such as outstanding performance of a single number, extraordinary achievement and/or promise, and outstanding talent.

Carolyn Weber Awards are given in recognition of outstanding creativity in the design of a diverse program and exceptional sensitivity to text/music relationships.

Marc Blitzstein Awards are given for an outstanding performance from a “Golden Age” musical.

All semifinalists who do not proceed to the finals receive an award of $500. Additional awards are available to non-finalists: Grace Keagy Awards for Outstanding Vocal Promise and Emerging Talent Awards, each in the amount of $500.

Please note that judges may decide not to award all prizes listed here in any given year.

Judges for past Lenya Competitions have included world-renowned soprano and actress Teresa Stratas; legendary director and producer Harold Prince; conductors Julius Rudel, James Holmes, Andy Einhorn, John Mauceri, Rob Berman, and Eric Stern; director/conductor Ted Sperling; Broadway and opera performers Victoria Clark, Patricia Racette, Angelina Réaux, Rebecca Luker, Timothy Nolen, Judy Kaye, Lisa Vroman, Judy Blazer; producers Welz Kauffman (Ravinia Festival), André Bishop (Lincoln Center Theater), Theodore S. Chapin (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), and Michael Kaufmann (Kurt Weill Fest); actor/director Alvin Epstein; directors Jonathan Eaton, Elmar Ottenthal, and Mark Cuddy; composers William Bolcom and Jeanine Tesori; coaches Stanley Walden and Vicki Shaghoian.


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