All emerging singers interested in the repertoire of Handel are encouraged to audition for the Handel Aria Competition. The final round will be held on August 20, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin, and broadcast via livestream.

Application Deadline: June 15, 2021

Please click here to access the application via YAP Tracker. Applications must be received by the end of the day on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 (i.e. midnight, Central Standard Time). 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 (or at a later date, pending COVID-19 status) 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. Minimum age is 18 years old and suggested age limit is 35 years old. Applicants over 35 will be considered on a case by case basis to determine whether their experience qualifies as emerging artist level. 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 June 15, 2021 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 bio of 150 words or less
  4. Non-refundable application fee of $20

Please label recordings with your name and titles of arias. Piano, harpsichord, or orchestral accompaniment will be accepted for the recording and may be at either A=415 or A=440; 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 June 30, 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 Round

The final round of the competition will take place on August 20, 2021. Rehearsals will take place at Grace Episcopal Church on August 19, with a final dress rehearsal on August 20.

The competition will be heard before a panel of three judges in an event open to the public (with social distancing) and via livestream held at Grace Episcopal Church, 116 West Washington Ave, Madison, Wisconsin. Prize winners will be announced at the end of the evening, and a reception for all finalists will follow, pending the current COVID-19 status in Madison.

Final Round Judges

The judges for the final round of the 8th annual Handel Aria Competition will be countertenor John Holiday, opera director David Ronis, and Italian diction expert Alessandra Visconti.

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.

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 by July 1, 2021. 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. All CDC-recommended guidelines regarding COVID-19 mitigation will be strictly followed.
  • Finalists will be responsible for their own food expenses

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