About the Foundation 

The William Matheus Sullivan Foundation supports exceptionally talented early career professional opera singers who show significant promise. More than 1,000 singers have earned funding from the Foundation since 1957. Prizes are awarded through live auditions; singers are selected for auditions through a competitive online application process. Sullivan Award winners receive $10,000 and are eligible for continuing role preparation grants, a unique aspect of the Foundation's commitment to early career singers. Judges may also choose to award Career Development Grants at auditions ($2,500 each in 2023).  

2024 Auditions and Requirements

2024 auditions will be held on Thursday, October 17 and Friday, October 18 in New York. Singers must be available in person on at least one of these dates; there are no callbacks, finals, or virtual live auditions. Limited travel reimbursement assistance is available for singers coming from outside the New York metro area.

Applicants should have completed their academic training and must have already sung at least one professional engagement with an opera company, orchestra, or other organization with full orchestra. Singers coming to the end of full-year young artist programs may be chosen to audition; if they are Sullivan Award winners, their eligibility for additional grants may be deferred upon request. 

The Foundation welcomes applications from singers of all nationalities but focuses its support on singers affiliated with North American companies, programs, and educational institutions. The Foundation cannot provide visa assistance, and singers without US tax status may be subject to withholding on awards and grants.

There is no age limit for applicants, but the Foundation is not seeking singers who already have well-established solo careers. Applicants may not have more than one past or upcoming contract for a leading or featured role (AGMA classifications) as an independent artist (not part of a young artist program), excluding covers, with an OPERA America Budget Level I Company* or its international equivalent. If there are questions about what engagements fit these criteria, the Foundation’s application panel will make the final determination. If the Foundation discovers that singers have omitted relevant past or upcoming engagements, they will be disqualified from the auditions.

*OPERA America Budget Level 1 Companies: Washington National Opera; Seattle Opera; Santa Fe Opera; San Francisco Opera; Detroit Opera; Metropolitan Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Los Angeles Opera; Houston Grand Opera; Dallas Opera; Atlanta Opera; Canadian Opera Company

2024 Application Materials 

1. Submittable Form

2. One-Page Resume - only one page will be shared with the audition panel

3. Photo

4. Endorsement Letter – Letter of endorsement written specifically for the Sullivan application by a music professional (not a current or former personal teacher, coach, or manager, or a Sullivan trustee) who is well acquainted with the singer’s qualifications and, ideally, has engaged them as a performer. Endorsers will receive a link to upload their confidential letter during the application process. Please contact us with any questions about who qualifies as an endorser.

5. Professional Contract or Official Offer – For a paid, professional solo engagement (excluding cover contracts) with full orchestral accompaniment that opens after April 16, 2024. Contracts and offers must be from the producing organization; cover contracts and engagements that require tuition or payment from the singer do not fulfill this requirement.

6. Video Samples Two arias in contrasting styles and two different languages performed with piano accompaniment. Recordings must be made without acoustical enhancement or amplification. Each selection should be filmed in a single take. Videos should show the singer in full view from the audience’s perspective, with a completely visible face. Videos should represent your audition performance level. Please note that highly produced videos usually do not give the panel the best sense of a singer's live performance. Your name, the name(s) of the pianist(s), and the title/composer of each aria must be clearly included (e.g. title, caption, or announcement). The combined length of the two arias must be no more than 10 minutes. 

Thank you for your interest in the Sullivan Foundation. Please complete the application form and submit the required materials to be considered for an audition.

It is your responsibility to ensure the application is complete, including attached files, videos, and the reference letter from your endorser. We recommend beginning your application as early as possible and notifying your endorser of the deadline well in advance. Letter requests may be sent through Submittable before your application is finalized. Endorsement letters cannot be written by current or former personal teachers, coaches, or managers, or by Sullivan trustees. Teachers and coaches who work with singers through a professional company or program (e.g., a young artist program coach) do qualify as endorsers. Contact us if you have questions about whether your endorser fits the guidelines. 

Please read the video guidelines carefully and note that we require two arias in contrasting styles in two different languages with piano accompaniment recorded in the last 6 months. We will not accept recordings with orchestral accompaniment.  

Applications will close on  Tuesday, August 6, 2024 at 11:00 p.m. EDT, and all materials you provide must be received by this deadline. (Note: ending time/date above may display in your local time zone.) Endorsement letters will be accepted until Saturday, August 8.

You may save an incomplete application as a draft and finish it later, but your application will not be reviewed until you hit the submit button. If you wish to make changes or additions to your application after you have submitted it, you may request that the application be opened for editing through Submittable. The revised application must be received before the deadline. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. 

If you have any difficulties submitting the form, save it as a draft, look for it under "My Submissions", and reopen and submit the form. It may also be helpful to try a different browser. You will see a confirmation screen and receive an email once you have successfully submitted the application.

If your application is accepted, you will be invited to a live audition in New York on October 17 or 18. You must be available at least one of these days; there are no callbacks, finals, or virtual auditions. We plan to send audition invitations no later than September 16. Limited travel reimbursement assistance is available for singers coming from outside the New York metro area.

We are here to help — if you have any questions, please contact us at info@sullivanfoundation.org or (646) 883-2742.

Sullivan Foundation