Please note: Total program duration for all auditions may not exceed 15 minutes.


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 international competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, including the works of Kurt Weill. More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition is a theater singing competition that emphasizes wide-ranging repertoire and the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context.


Finalists will each receive an award of $1,000, plus a stipend to defray costs of travel, if any, to the finals in Rochester, New York, USA, on Saturday, 12 April 2014. The 2014 competition will award prizes equivalent to:

  • 1st Prize: $15,000
  • 2nd Prize: $10,000
  • 3rd Prize: $7,500


In addition, the judges may award additional special prizes at their discretion.


The 2014 Lotte Lenya Competition is open to singer/actors ages 19-32 who were born after 31 December 1981 and before 1 January 1995. Contestants may be citizens of any nation.

First, Second, and Third Prizewinners from previous years are ineligible to compete in subsequent competitions. Other finalists are eligible to re-apply, provided they meet the current age requirement. Winners of a Lys Symonette Award for performance of an individual selection may not audition with that selection again.


Contestants must prepare four selections, to be performed unamplified:

  1. one selection from the operatic or operetta repertoire (not by Kurt Weill);
  2. one theatrical selection (any genre) by Kurt Weill;
  3. one song from the "Golden Age" (pre-1968) American musical theater repertoire (this may be another selection by Weill); and
  4. one song from the American musical theater repertoire of 1968 or later.


Selections must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The opera/operetta selection must be sung in its original musical version, key, and language.
  • Weill selection(s) must be sung in their original theatrical versions and languages. However, in the Weill 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.
  • The American musical theater selections must be sung in English. Contestants must perform the stage version of each song as contained in the piano-vocal score of the work (not in "selections" format or popular adaptations). Contestants may select a Weill song written for Broadway as their pre-1968 musical theater selection.
  • All selections must be performed from memory.
  • Total program duration (all four selections together) may not exceed 15 minutes.


Applicants are encouraged to contact the Kurt Weill Foundation at 212.505.5240 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for help in choosing appropriate Kurt Weill repertoire and finding the original musical versions of his works.

Please Note: The varied repertoire selection is intended to show a wide range of your talent as a singer/actor. It is to your advantage to make sure each of your selections demonstrates a different aspect of your vocal and dramatic abilities, and that you sing each selection with vocal technique and interpretive style that are appropriate for the dramatic context of the selection. In the first category, choose a selection from the opera or operetta repertoire in the style and language that best show off your skills. If you are a singer/actor who is more comfortable singing in English, there are many selections to choose from the English-language operetta repertoire, including comedic numbers that don’t require traditional operatic vocal production.


First Round

To be considered in the first round, applicants must submit an audition video on DVD of all four repertoire selections, along with a completed application form, current photograph, and resumé, to be received by 31 January 2014. While video auditions are preferred, applicants who are unable to submit a video may request to audition live in New York City on 25 January 2014. Such requests must be accompanied by a completed application form, current photograph, and resumé and must be received by 10 January 2014. Video and live first-round auditions will be weighed equally. For both types of audition, contestants must prepare a program containing all four of the required repertoire selections, following the guidelines above. Contestants are encouraged to stage their selections; you may use basic scenic elements such as a chair and/or simple props if desired. You may present your four selections in whatever order you choose, to create what you believe will be the strongest program. Total program duration (all four selections together) may not exceed 15 minutes.

Video Audition

Submit one DVD with a video audition that contains all four of the required repertoire selections. Your DVD 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. DVDs must be received, along with application materials, by 31 January 2014.

Live Audition

Requests for live auditions, to be held in New York City on 25 January 2014, must be received, along with application materials, by 10 January 2014. Appointments will be given on a first-come-first-served basis until all available appointments are filled; do not wait until the last minute to submit your request. For the audition, you must prepare all four required repertoire selections; however, time will be very limited and it is unlikely that you will be able to perform your entire program. You must provide your own accompanist.


Once all of the first-round auditions have been evaluated, semi-finalists will be invited to audition in New York City on 7-8 March 2014. Travel stipends are available for semi-finalists traveling more than 100 miles to attend. Finalists will be announced by 12 March 2014.


The finals of the competition will be held on Saturday, 12 April 2014 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, USA. Finalists will receive a stipend to defray costs of travel, if any.

The finals will be divided into two rounds: (1) a daytime competition in which finalists sing their four repertoire selections, and (2) an evening concert in which finalists each perform one or more of their selections. Winners will be announced at the conclusion of the evening performance.


The Kurt Weill Foundation will provide an accompanist for the semi-finals in New York City and the finals in Rochester. Contestants may utilize the staff accompanist free of charge or bring their own accompanists at their expense. Contestants participating in the live first-round auditions in New York City must bring their own accompanist.


Judges for the finals of past Lenya Competitions have included world-renowned soprano and actress Teresa Stratas; legendary director and producer Harold Prince; conductors Julius Rudel, James Holmes, 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, and Lisa Vroman; institutional leaders 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; and composer/performers William Bolcom and Stanley Walden.


The Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes singer/actors for excellence in a wide-ranging repertoire of theater singing. Judges reward versatile musical theater singers who present fully acted performances of their material. You should choose repertoire appropriate for your vocal, acting, and age type and range. You should perform each selection as if you were playing the role in its full dramatic context, and sing in the appropriate musical style. You need to be able to convince the judges that you are "right" for the roles you are portraying and that you understand the dramatic context and musical idiom of each of your selections.

Successful performances demonstrate not only the contestant’s vocal talent and musicianship, but make a strong dramatic impression through the synthesis of singing and acting. They show that the contestant can create a character in a dramatic situation, act each moment truthfully, physically inhabit the role using movement and gesture when appropriate, and act the song/aria within a clearly imagined environment. Standing in the crook of the piano is only rarely appropriate. Successful performances also demonstrate the contestant’s ability to apply appropriate technical and stylistic singing approaches to contrasting idioms of musical theater. Just as it would be inappropriate to sing an aria in a pop style, it also would be inappropriate to sing most American musical theater selections with your most operatic voice.

For more advice on creating a successful performance for the Lotte Lenya Competition, please read "Tips for Contestants" and "How to Win the Lenya Competition."


First-round audition DVD, along with a completed Lotte Lenya Competition Application Form, current photograph, and resumé must be received at the Kurt Weill Foundation by 31 January 2014. Applications with a request for a live first-round audition must include a completed application form, current photograph, and resumé, to be received at the Kurt Weill Foundation by 10 January 2014. You may complete the application form PDF using Adobe Acrobat or Reader, save it, and email it, along with your resumé and photograph, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or you may send print copies along with your DVD. Please be sure your DVD is clearly labeled with your name.

DVDs should be mailed to:
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music
7 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003 USA
Tel: 212.505.5240 / Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Application Form

Guidelines (PDF)


If you have any questions about the Lotte Lenya Competition or guidelines, please contact the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212.505.5240.

© 2012 The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. All rights reserved.