The company has been a center for Wagner performances since it staged its first Ring cyle in 1975. It has since presented a series of complete cycles—a series of three performances is currently underway—as well as other Wagner works.
The International Wagner Competition is open to singers between 25 and 40 years old; competitors will be nominated by opera administrators and other music-world figures. Each will perform two arias from the composer's works at preliminary rounds in Europe, New York, and Seattle; Seattle Opera general director Speight Jenkins and a panel of experts will pick six finalists and two alternates for the finals in Seattle on August 19, 2006.
The two winners will receive cash prizes of $15,000.
Philanthropist Charles Simonyi is funding the competition. "This gift recognizes Seattle Opera's unique role in presenting Wagner's great works and its reputation for attracting the best singers and enthusiastic audiences from around the world," Simonyi said at a press conference yesterday.