Rolex and Culture



The World Opera Competition

Operalia, The World Opera Competition was founded in 1993 by Plácido Domingo to discover and honor the best new young Opera singers of today. His goal is to attract singers of all voice categories and from all around the globe and make them be heard by a panel of distinguished international Opera personalities, in the most prestigious and competitive forum in the world.

Under the artistic guidance of Plácido Domingo, Operalia is a competition open to all voice categories for singers from 18 to 30 years old who are ready to perform on the world’s great opera stages. 
Each year, Operalia headquarters in Paris receives anywhere from 800 to 1000 applications. A select jury of three opera professionals listens to every recording submitted, rating them from 1 to 10. The scores are tallied, discrepancies in scoring are discussed together, and the top forty are invited to participate in that year’s competition (a few names are also reserved in case one of the finalists is unable to accept the invitation).

The jury of ten opera directors, presided by Plácido Domingo as a non-voting member, convenes in the host city to listen to all forty finalists during two days of quarter finals. Each singer begins by selecting one opera aria, followed by a choice made by the jury. If they are competing in the the category, the singer also interprets a zarzuela aria.

Twenty finalists are then invited to participate in the semi-final, singing one aria of the jury’s choice and, if they are competing in the category, a zarzuela aria. The quarter and semi finals are accompanied by pianists, whilst the gala final concert is accompanied by a symphonic orchestra conducted by Plácido Domingo. Plácido Domingo is present throughout the competition; he does not vote, but he supervises the proceedings and is available to give artistic and career advice to all the participants.

Competing or winning a prize is only the beginning of each singer’s relationship with Operalia. Since the jury is comprised for the most part of opera house directors, each jury member often invites the singers to perform in future productions in their theatres. Plácido Domingo himself, both as a singer, as a conductor and as director of the Operas in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., takes a sincere interest in the career development of Operalia singers.

Operalia takes place every year in a different city in the world.

  • 1993: Paris (Palais Garnier)
  • 1994: Mexico City (Televisa Recording Studios)
  • 1995: Madrid (Teatro de la Zarzuela)
  • 1996: Bordeaux (Grand Théâtre)
  • 1997: Tokyo (Yuport Kan-I Hoken Hall)
  • 1998: Hamburg (Musikhalle)
  • 1999: Puerto Rico (Centro de Bellas Artes, Luis A. Ferré)
  • 2000: Los Angeles (Royce Hall, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA))
  • 2001: Washington, D.C. (Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University)
  • 2002: Paris (Théâtre du Châtelet)
  • 2003: Lake Constance Region (Austria, Germany and Switzerland)
  • 2004: Los Angeles (Dorothy Chandler Pavillion)
  • 2005: Madrid (Teatro Real)
  • 2006: Valencia (Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía)
  • 2007: Paris (Théâtre du Châtelet)
  • 2008: Québec (Palais Montcalm, Grand Théâtre de Québec)
  • 2009: Pécs and Budapest (Pécs National Theatre, Hungarian State Operac)
  • 2010: Milan (Teatro alla Scala)
  • 2011: Moscow (Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre)
  • 2012: Beijing (National Centre for the Performing Arts – NCPA)
  • 2013: Verona (Teatro Filarmonico)
  • 2014 : Los Angeles (Los Angeles Opera)
  • 2015 : London (Royal Opera House)
  • 2016 : Guadalajara (Teatro Degollado)

Read a biography of Plácido Domingo, founder of Operalia Competition