Lotte Lenya Competition logo


"What you're always looking for are the people who have all four songs adding up to something extraordinary."
--Theodore S. Chapin, 9-time Lotte Lenya Competition Judge
President of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company, and
Past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Theater Wing

Lenya Competition 2016 

The Lotte Lenya Competition is a unique international theater singing contest that emphasizes wide-ranging repertoire and the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context. The 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.

Total prize purse exceeds $60,000; individual prizes range from $15,000 to $1,000.


Applications due January 25, 2016
Semi-Final auditions March 10-11, 2016
Final auditions April 16, 2016


Open to singer/actors of all nationalities, ages 19–32 (born after December 31, 1983 and before January 1, 1997).

First, Second and Third Prizewinners from previous years are ineligible to complete in subsequent competitions. Winners of Lys Symonette Awards for "Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number" must choose a different selection to compete again.


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 may select a Weill song written for Broadway as their pre-1968 musical theater selection.
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 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 are encouraged to choose contrasting selections, which may be performed in any order. To effectively demonstrate that you are a multi-dimensional performer, consider the mood, tempo, length, vocal range, and musical style in constructing your program.

The program must be performed from memory.

The total length of the program must be 15 minutes or less.


Preliminary Auditions

  • Each contestant must upload a preliminary video audition with his/her online application form.
  • Video auditions must include all four required repertoire selections.
  • Contestants must upload video auditions through Vimeo.
  • Contestants will need to create a free account, upload the video, and set it to private with the password Lenya2016. (More detailed instructions may be found on the application form.)
  • Deadline January 25, 2016.

Note: 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.


  • Contestants will be notified by February 12, 2016 if they are being invited to the Semi-Final auditions in New York City at the Manhattan School of Music on March 10 or 11, 2016.
  • Travel stipends are available to semi-finalists traveling more than 100 miles.
  • Accompanists will be provided.



  • Contestants will be notified by March 14, 2016 if they are invited to the Finals in Rochester, NY.
  • Finals will take place in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music on April 16, 2016.
  • Accompanists will be provided.
  • Travel stipends are also available to finalists.



$15,000 First Prize
$10,000 Second Prize
$7,500 Third Prize
$3,500 Lys Symonette Award(s)
$3,500 Carolyn Weber Award

Additional Awards

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


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 "Suggested Weill Repertoire," "Tips for Contestants" and "How to Win the Lenya Competition."


  • Complete online application and upload video audition, current resumé, photograph, and proof of birthdate.
  • Deadline January 25, 2016.
  • Complete application here



We're here to help.

Please contact the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music with any questions you may have regarding the Lotte Lenya Competition: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (212) 505-5240.


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