The Lenya Competition is open to singing actors of all nationalities ages 19-32.
First, Second, and Third Prizewinners from previous years are ineligible to compete in subsequent competitions. Winners of discretionary 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. 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.
- 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 a musical written before 1968
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). 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 a musical written in/after 1968
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). Musical theater selections must be sung in English.
- one selection from an opera or operetta
The opera/operetta selection 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.
Bear in mind that the intention behind requiring two musical theater selections, one written before 1968 and one written in or after, is to encourage performances that demonstrate the stylistic differences found throughout the history of musical theater. Pairing a selection from a musical from the 1920s with one that imitates that style but written after 1968 does not illustrate the diversity celebrated by the Lenya Competition, and should be avoided. A musical such as The Drowsy Chaperone might postdate 1968, but as it is largely written “in the style” of a musical from an earlier period, it does not really afford a contestant the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to perform in a post-1968 style of musical theater.
- First Prize: $25,000
- Second Prize: $20,000
- Third Prize: $15,000
Discretionary Awards of $6,000 each may be awarded by the judges in recognition of an outstanding performance of a single number or other exceptional aspects of a finalist’s presentation.
Other finalists: $3,000
Prizes Given Before the Finals
Semifinalist Prize: $1,250 (given to all semifinalists, including those who advance to the finals.)
Preliminary Round Prizes of $750 each:
- Emerging Talent Award, for contestants ages 19-23 who demonstrate enormous potential
- Grace Keagy Award for Outstanding Vocal Promise
- Outstanding performance of a selection from the Lenya Competition Songbook,