Inaugurated in 2018, the Hurn Court Opera Singer of the Year Competition provides an important platform for young vocal talent. It also provides a key to future performance opportunities with HCO, and offers the chance to develop over a period of time under the supporting wing of the professionals associated with the company.

The winner of the First Prize is invited to perform with Hurn Court Opera and all competitors may be considered by the Artistic Director for future performance opportunities. 

Details of previous competitions, including lists of prizewinners, can be found  here: 2018 Report and 2019 Report.


It is anticipated that the next competition will be held in the autumn of 2020. Preliminary rounds will be held in London, with semi-finals and finals held later in the season in Bournemouth.



The rules for the 2019 competition are given below for guidance. These may be subject to change in 2020.

  • The competition is open to singers of any nationality who, on or before 1 March 2019, have completed at least one year of a continuous higher education course in music at a recognised conservatoire or music school in the UK or Eire or who are currently on a postgraduate course, or who have completed an equivalent period of continuous study in the UK or Eire with a reputable vocal coach. Candidates must also be currently resident in the UK or Eire.


  • Singers who have been finalists (i.e. one of the four final singers) in a previous HCO competition are not eligible to apply again.


  • All singers must be between 20 and 28 years of age on 25 May 2019.


  • The deadline for receipt of entries is midnight on 18 May 2019. E-mailed or postal applications are welcome along with the payment of a £20 administration fee. The proposed repertoire must be included in the application.

  • Applications will be accepted in order of receipt, up to a maximum of 80 entrants in total. In order to ensure a reasonable mix of voices, the application process may be closed early to individual voice-types. The current status will be displayed above.


  • The decision of Hurn Court Opera on any question of eligibility shall be final. Hurn Court Opera reserves the right to accept or refuse any application.


  • Candidates are solely responsible for their travelling and subsistence costs.


  • For an additional £10 fee an official accompanist will be available to accompany in the preliminary rounds, although candidates are also welcome to bring their own accompanist at their own expense.


  • For the semi-final and final rounds, an official accompanist can be engaged for an additional fee of £20, although candidates are also welcome to bring their own accompanist at their own expense.


  • The decisions of the adjudicating panels are final and not open to discussion or correspondence. The adjudicators reserve the right to withhold any prize should the required standard not be attained. Hurn Court Opera reserves the right to allow any stage of the competition to be recorded, broadcast or televised and be used on the Hurn Court Opera website.


  • Candidates are reminded that it is illegal to perform from photocopies of published music in copyright. Original copies must be supplied for pianists.


  • The competition reserves the right, if required by law, to deduct withholding tax from any payment made to competitors not resident (for tax purposes) in the UK.


  • The application fee of £20 is non-refundable if a singer withdraws from the competition.



  • The judges will take into consideration the choice and variety of the programme submitted. If, in the opinion of Hurn Court Opera, it does not meet the criteria listed below a revised programme will be requested.


  • Only one item from the preliminary audition may be repeated, either in the semi-final or final (but not both). Otherwise no repertoire may be repeated.


  • Arias from opera must be sung in the original key.


  • Song repertoire may be sung in a transposed or original key.


  • All repertoire must be sung in the original language.


  • A candidate’s performance through all the rounds of the competition will be taken into consideration in the award of prizes.


  • First-round audition  

        Two items, which must consist of:

       a) an aria from opera and

       b) a song written in the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries

       totalling no more than 10 minutes in length.


  • Semi-final 

        The programme must not exceed 15 minutes and must include at least:

        a) one aria from opera and

        b) two songs, each in a different language.


  • Final

        The programme must not exceed 20 minutes. It may consist of contrasting repertoire chosen by the finalist                  provided the programme is balanced and contains at least one operatic aria and one English song. HCO reserves          the right to request a revised programme.

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