Sullivan Foundation

There are presently no open calls for applications.

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 2022).  

2023 Auditions and Requirements

2023 auditions will be held on Sunday, October 29 and Monday, October 30 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 must have completed their academic training and should have already sung at least one professional engagement with an opera company, orchestra, or other organization using full orchestral accompaniment. 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; Canadian Opera Company

2023 Application Materials 

1. Submittable Form

2. One-Page Resume

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 Letter of Intent – For a paid, professional solo engagement (no covers) with full orchestral accompaniment that opens after the audition dates or in the six months prior to the auditions (after April 28, 2023). 

6. Video Samples Two arias in contrasting styles and two different languages performed with piano accompaniment and recorded within 12 months of the application deadline. Recordings should 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, and the singer’s face should be completely visible. The name of the singer and the title and composer of each aria should be included as a caption, title, or announcement. The combined length of the two arias must be no more than 10 minutes.

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Sullivan Foundation