The jury of ten opera experts, presided by Plácido Domingo as a non-voting member, convenes in a different international host city every year to listen to all forty finalists live during two days of quarter-finals.
Each singer begins by selecting and singing one opera aria from a list of four arias that he or she has chosen, and the jury then asks the singer to perform a second aria from that list.
If the singer is also competing in the Zarzuela category, he or she also interprets a zarzuela aria.
Operalia, The World Opera Competition, was founded in 1993 by Plácido Domingo to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today. His goal is to attract singers of all voice tessituras and from every country in the world ranging from 18 to 32 years of age, to have them audition and be heard by a panel of distinguished international opera personalities, in the most prestigious and competitive showcase in the world.
A select jury of three respected opera professionals listens to every recording submitted and rates them in a one to ten scale. The scores are tallied, uncommon discrepancies in the scoring are jointly discussed, and the top forty candidates are invited to participate in that year’s competition. (A few singers are also held in reserve, in case one or more of the selected candidates are unable to accept the invitation).
Twenty participants are then selected to continue on to the semi-finals, in which they sing one aria chosen by the jury and – if they are competing in the Zarzuela category – one Zarzuela aria as well.
From the twenty semi-finalists, ten singers are chosen for the Final Round.
The quarter- finals and semi-finals are carried out in audition form accompanied by Operalia’s official pianists. The Final Round is presented in the form of a Gala Concert accompanied by full orchestra and conducted by Maestro Plácido Domingo himself.
Although Plácido Domingo does not vote, he supervises the proceedings and is committed to giving artistic and career advice to all of the participants.
Most important, Maestro Domingo is in a sense a patron not only of the winners, but of many competitors, whether engaging them for his projects, or recommending them for other engagements around the world.
Participating or even winning a prize in this competition is only the beginning of every singer’s relationship with Operalia. Since the jury is comprised for the most part of International Opera Houses’ General and/or Casting directors, Operalia’s distinguished jurors often invite and engage some of the singers to perform in upcoming productions in their theaters.
Plácido Domingo himself, a singer and a conductor, takes a committed interest in the career development of the competitors.