International singing competition the Queen Sonja International Music Competition has changed its name to the Queen Sonja Singing Competition (QSSC). It has also revealed a new visual identity and website.
The competition was established in 1988, in Oslo, Norway, when the prize was originally awarded to a pianist. However, in 1995 it was dedicated to singers instead to celebrate the centenary of the birth of legendary Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad. The change stuck, and the prize has been given to singers ever since. The name change reflects this focus.
Named for Norway’s queen, the competition since 1995 has provided a global platform for young singers from around the world to come to Oslo, to compete for this prestigious prize which has launched many international careers. Her Majesty Queen Sonja has been closely involved with the competition since its inception, personally presenting every prize awarded to date.
Held every two years, the Queen Sonja Singing Competition draws on a global network of opera companies, conservatoires and professionals to connect young singers with new audiences, top industry professionals and the very best artistic guidance, with the aim of giving competitors the ultimate boost to their international careers. Notable past winners include German tenor Daniel Behle (2005), Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan (2013) and Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen (2015).
Lars Hallvard Flæten, executive director of the competition, said of the change: “The Queen Sonja International Music Competition has established itself as a platform that launches the best young singers around the world into international stardom.
“I am excited by our new name and visual identity which reflect how the competition continues to evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of young singers. I would like to extend my thanks to Her Majesty Queen Sonja for her dedicated patronage and inspiration to all involved in the competition.”
Applications for the 2023 competition open on 1 February 2023, via the QSSC’s new website, which has dedicated resources to guide prospective applicants through the process. Singers from around the world, born in or after 1991, are eligible to apply. The closing date is 1 April.
Prospective participants should submit video footage of two self-chosen operatic arias of contrasting styles. The combined recordings should be a maximum of 10 minutes long and should be recorded no more than 6-12 months before the date of the submission.
Applicants should also provide a repertoire list consisting of 10 works to be performed in the competition, a copy of their passport, an up-to-date CV and a digital photo.
An international screening jury will evaluate all applicants based on the uploaded videos. All applicants will be notified of their success or otherwise by email in May 2023.
The competition takes place in venues around Oslo in August, commencing with a special opening ceremony at the city’s town hall on 16 August. This will be hosted by Oslo’s Mayor Marianne Borgen. Preliminary rounds are on 17 and 18 August, with the semi-final on 20 August at Oslo National Academy of the Arts.
Through each round a jury consisting of singers, opera directors and casting directors will judge the performances. The competition will culminate in a gala concert and prize-giving ceremony with HM Queen Sonja, as the six finalists perform opera arias with the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra. This will take place on 26 August at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.
This year, the top three finalists will be presented with a diploma and original artwork by HM Queen Sonja herself, alongside prizes of €50,000, €10,000 and €5,000 respectively. The best Norwegian participant will receive The Ingrid Bjoner Scholarship of 100,000 NOK. They will also receive coaching, masterclasses, career development sessions and international exposure.
Full competition rules and application information is available from the Queen Sonja Singing Competition website.
First prize winner Maria Motolygina (soprano, Russia) at the final concert of the 2021 Queen Sonja Singing Competition. Applications for the 2023 competition on 1 February 2023. Photo: Helge Skodvin.