The competition (whose inaugural event was held last year) is open to professional singers between 25 and 39 of any nationality who have had sufficient training and experience to perform Wagnerian roles.
Nominees are currently being solicited from general directors of opera companies, artist representatives and an international panel of established opera professionals. Auditions, which are by invitation only, will be held this fall in London, Munich, New York and Seattle.
For the auditions, each candidate is expected to prepare several Wagner arias in German; they will sing two at their initial audition. Seattle Opera general director Speight Jenkins and conductor Asher Fisch will select a maximum of eight candidates and two alternates for the August 16 finals, a full-orchestra concert at McCaw Hall in Seattle.
Two winners will each receive a cash award of $15,000, as well as the possibility of an engagement with Seattle Opera. (Four of the eight finalists in 2006 have future engagements with the company.)
Irish soprano Miriam Murphy and English baritone James Rutherford won the top prizes and $15,000 each at the 2006 event.
Since 1975 and its first Ring cycle, Seattle Opera has become one of the leading presenters of Wagner repertoire in the U.S. The Wagner tradition began under the leadership of the company's founding general director, Glynn Ross, and has continued under the leadership of Speight Jenkins. During Jenkins's tenure, the company has presented two new Ring cycles and new productions of the other six major Wagner operas. In August 2007, Seattle Opera will launch its 2007-08 season with The Flying Dutchman. One of the finalists of the 2006 competition, Jason Collins, will make his company debut as the Steersman.