"No vocal contest better targets today's total-package talents."--Opera News, August 2014
In 1998, to honor the centenary of the birth of Lotte Lenya (1898-1981), an extraordinary singer/actress and one of the foremost interpreters of the music of her husband, Kurt Weill (1900-1950), the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music established an annual Lotte Lenya Competition.
The competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition is a theater singing competition that emphasizes wide-ranging repertoire and the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context.
Previous Lenya Competition winners are making careers playing leading and featured roles in major theaters and opera houses around the globe.
Winners have appeared on Broadway, on London's West End, in national and international tours of Broadway shows, and in major regional theaters including Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Classic Stage Company, Goodspeed Musicals, Hartford Stage, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Starlight Theatre, Light Opera Works (Chicago), New York City Center Encores!, Paper Mill Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Signature Theatre (Virginia), The MUNY (St. Louis), The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park, Westport Country Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre. Professional recognition of the winners in the theater community includes a Tony Award® nomination and a Drama Desk Award.
In the United States, winners have performed the with Florida Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and many regional opera companies. European opera appearances include engagements with the Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg Staatsoper, Oper Frankfurt, Oper Leipzig, Opéra National de Paris, Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, Teatro Real Madrid, Théâtre du Châtelet, and the Vienna Staatsoper.
Appearances include the Aldeburgh, Bard, Caramoor, Castleton, Cincinnati May, Glyndebourne, Kurt Weill Fest Dessau, Ravinia, Spoleto, and Tanglewood Festivals, Music Academy of the West, and the Festival Aix-en-Provence.
Opera News feature on the Competition (August 2014)
Singing the Story: The Lotte Lenya Competition (documentary film posted on YouTube)
"The Lenya Competition at Fifteen" (from the Spring 2013 Kurt Weill Newsletter)
Peabody Award winner Michael Lasser's profile of the Competition (from the Spring 2009 Kurt Weill Newsletter)
2014 Lotte Lenya Competition prizewinners, from left: Ben Edquist, Diana Rose Becker, Arlo Hill, Robert Ariza, Katie Travis, Briana Elyse Hunter, Natalie Ballenger. Photo courtesy of the Kurt Weill Foundation.