Operalia was created in 1993 with the aim of locating, encouraging and fostering some of the most gifted young vocal artists of our time. Each year it is held in a different city, and each year Maestro Domingo selects the panel of judges from directors of some of the world’s major opera ensembles, who are in a position not only to award the prize money but also to assist the youthful singers they have heard to find work. In other words, participating in OPERALIA is not only an honor, it is also a practical event that can be a real stepping-stone to a career.
Previous Operalia winners include Ainhoa Arteta, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Joseph Calleja, José Cura, Joyce DiDonato, Giuseppe Filianoti, Elizabeth Futral, Joseph Kaiser, Inva Mula, Eric Owens, Erwin Schrott, Nina Stemme, Ludovic Tézier, Rolando Villazon and many other current stars of opera stages around the world.
"I am often asked how Operalia came into existence, Plácido Domingo says. Through the years, I have always taken a special interest in promising young singers, and I have thought a lot about the enormous difficulties these artists face as they start their careers. It has become clear to me that talent alone is not enough; it is also essential for young singers to come to the attention of those impresarios, managers, casting directors, conductors and stage directors who can further their professional careers.
"My purpose in Operalia is to help identify not only the best voices, but also to discover those singers whose personalities, characters and powers of interpretation show that they have the potential to become complete artists. Individuals such as these become tomorrow’s stars. This is why the jury is not exclusively made up of great singers but also includes general managers, stage directors and casting directors. The importance of the international jury of each Operalia competition has helped to create the necessary stir and has usually led to important engagements for these artists.
"I take great interest in the careers of the Operalia winners and follow them closely. I owe it not only to them but also to my friends who work so hard to make Operalia a reality each year."
LesThe prizes are awarded in the following categories:
Two First Prizes* US$30,000.00
Two Second Prizes* US$20,000.00
Two Third Prizes* US$10,000.00
Two Birgit Nilsson Prizes* US$15,000.00
The Pepita Embil Domingo Prize of Zarzuela US$10,000.00
The Don Plácido Domingo, Sr., Prize of Zarzuela US$10,000.00
Two Audience Prizes* A watch offered by Rolex
The Culturarte Prize US$10,000.00
Tied winners may also receive a prize.
* one for the best female singer and one for the best male singer.
Zarzuela Prizes: Plácido Domingo was born in Madrid and had the good fortune to have parents who were musicians and theater people. His father, Plácido Domingo, Sr., and his mother, Pepita Embil, were stars of the zarzuela, the Spanish form of operetta. In 1949, when Plácido, Jr., was eight, his parents created a company of their own in Mexico, and he and his younger sister joined them there. The "Zarzuela Prizes" – one for a female singer and one for a male singer – were created in honor of Plácido Domingo’s parents and are meant to encourage singers to work in this art form.
Birgit Nilsson Prizes: German Repertoire of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner.
The Audience Prizes: These special prizes – watches offered by Rolex – are awarded by a vote of the audience attending the competition finals to the best female singer and best male singer.