All emerging singers interested in the repertoire of Handel are encouraged to audition for the Handel Aria Competition. We regret, however, that we have cancelled auditions for 2020, as our event is being postponed until 2021. Next year’s competition be open to any singers who might have reached the upper age limit in 2020.

When auditions are open in 2021, singers will have until midnight on the deadline date to upload their applications via YAP Tracker in order to be eligible. The date of the final round of the 8th annual Handel Aria Competition will be announced later.  It will be held in the new Collins Recital Hall of the Hamel Music Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music at 7:30.

New Application Deadline: TBA

Watch here for the YAP Tracker link for 2021

Handel Aria Competition applications are managed through YAP Tracker. Applications must be received via YAP Tracker by midnight on the deadline date. Singers need not be a paying subscriber to YAP Tracker to use the application form, although you will need an account (guest accounts are free).


First prize: $1,500
Second prize: $1,000
Third prize: $750
Audience Favorite: $500

The 2021 first prize winner will also be invited to perform a recital in the spring of 2022 in St. George’s, Handel’s parish church, as the guest of the London Handel Festival. The Handel Aria Competition will provide a $750 grant towards air fare.


Auditions are open to all voice types. Contestants must be 18-35 years old as of the day of the finals.  (Please note that for 2021 this will be extended to 18-36.) Past finalists are eligible to audition, with the exception of first prize winners.

 Preliminary Round

Applications for the preliminary round must be completed in entirety through YAP Tracker by the 2021 deadline and include:

  1. Completed application form
  2. Unedited audio recordings of two Handel arias: One aria in English and the other in Italian, German, or Latin. Arias may be from any Handel works including operas, oratorios, cantatas, motets, etc.
  3. A biographical paragraph of 150 words or less
  4. Non-refundable application fee of $25

Please label recordings with your name and titles of arias. Piano and harpsichord accompaniment will be accepted for the recording; however, the finals will be accompanied by harpsichord and instrumental ensemble at A=415 Hz. Technically poor recordings will be rejected.

Judges will evaluate the recordings and choose seven finalists and one runner-up. Singers will be judged on voice quality and historically correct Baroque performance practice. Competitors who are selected to participate in the Finals will be notified by email no later than a date to be announced in 2021. Should any of the chosen finalists be unable to sing in the final round, the runner-up will be invited to participate in the final round.

Final Stage

The final round of the competition will take place on a date TBD, Rehearsals will take place in Collins Recital Hall two days earlier, with a dress rehearsal the day before.

The competition will be heard before a panel of three judges in an event open to the public held in the Collins Recital Hall of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music, Hamel Music Center, 740 University Ave, Madison, Wisconsin. Prize winners will be announced at the end of the evening, and a reception for all finalists will follow.

Each singer will perform:

  1. A short recitative and aria
  2. A second aria without recitative.

One selection in English, the other in Italian, German, or Latin. You may sing the same arias from the preliminary recording, or sing new selections.

On a date, in advance of the final stage, finalists will be asked to send the titles, English translations with the original language, and one copy of the arias and recitative to be performed at the competition finals. Please send the translations as a WORD document and the music as a PDF to:

Use a good source for your music so it is historically correct. The Handel Gesellschaft edition is excellent, and is available in university and public libraries, or through the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library.

Harpsichord & String Quartet Accompaniment 

The Madison Bach Musicians will provide harpsichord and string quartet accompaniment for the final concert. Finalists will have an opportunity to rehearse before the competition. You must use the provided ensemble for the final competition. Competition pitch is A=415 Hz.


  • Finalists will be given up to $500 for travel to Madison (limited to actual expense)
  • Home stays will be available for out-of-town finalists
  • Finalists will be responsible for their own food expenses

If you have any questions please email Artistic Director Sarah Brailey at