Sopranos Lauren Fagan and Kiandra Howarth are among 40 singers competing in the international opera competition.

For the first time in its 22-year history, Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s international singing competition, will be held in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and two of Australia’s brightest singing talents will be among the hopefuls competing for the prestigious title. Founded in 1993 with the aim of discovering the world’s most promising opera talent, Operalia is open to singers of all voice types between the ages of 18 and 32. The list of previous winners of the competition reads like a who’s-who of the world’s most in-demand opera superstars, including Joseph Calleja, José Cura, Joyce DiDonato, Carmen Giannattasio, Ana María Martínez, Ailyn Pérez, Erwin Schrott, Nina Stemme, Rolando Villazón and Sonya Yoncheva. 

This year, Australia is well represented by sopranos Lauren Fagan and Kiandra Howarth, both of whom are current members of the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, and have impressed critics and audiences alike with recent appearances on Covent Garden’s main stage. Australians have won the top gong at Operalia twice in previous years: Elena Xanthoudakis in 2008 and Anita Watson in 2009.

Lauren Fagan and Kiandra Howarth

Starting on Monday July 13, with closed rounds taking place throughout the week, the public final will be held at illustrious venue on Sunday July 19. This year’s 40 competitors are drawn from 20 countries including Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea. Thailand, across Europe and throughout North America. In addition to a strong contingent of sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, tenors and baritones, there is one representative each for bass, bass-baritone and countertenor. 

The competition – which is hosted by a different city every year – receives hundreds of applications from which only 40 promising singers are chosen to compete in front of a jury of leading industry professionals including general managers and casting directors from the world’s most prestigious international opera houses. Although Plácido Domingo does not vote himself, he is heavily involved in the competition. In addition to being on hand to offer guidance on artistic and career development to all of the participants, he will also conduct the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House for the Gala final on Covent Garden’s main stage.