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The Kennedy Center

Opera Institute

Admissions Information

Program Application

Application Deadline extended: Friday, January 19, 2018.

Start your application

Application requirements include an essay, letter of recommendation (1), and photo. Résumés are optional. You may view full application instructions and requirements by clicking on the online application link above.

Audition Information

Opera Institute accepts live and video auditions. Students eligible to audition should be 15-18 years old and already engaged in in-depth vocal study with an interest in pursuing a musical career in opera. Singers currently should be studying Italian Art Songs.

Audition Requirements

Please prepare two art songs; one must be in Italian. Arias from the standard opera and operetta repertoire are not permitted. Musical theater selections are also not permitted. Art songs such as those in the 24 Italian Songs and Arias and similar are suggested. Repertoire that does not fit these requirements will not be heard. Selections must be memorized. If attending a live audition, please bring two copies of your music with you. An accompanist will be provided; students are not permitted to bring their own accompanist.

Live Auditions

Live auditions are strongly preferred by the judging panel for students who live within a 3-4 hour drive from Washington, DC. Applicants wishing to schedule a live audition may do so online at

Video Auditions

Students should only submit a video audition if they are not able to attend a live audition. Students must announce their name, the name of their selection, and the composer of their selection at the beginning of the video; be dressed for an audition; and have the camera set to show a full-length shot of them for the entirety of their performance. Videos must be uploaded as part of the online application by Monday, January 15, 2018.

Audition Dates

Live auditions: The Kennedy Center:
Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, February 4, 2018
The John F. Kennedy Center
2700 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20566
Video auditions:
Must be uploaded as part of the application and received by January 15, 2018.

Application Requirements

In addition to an audition, students must fill out the online application form and submit additional materials which include:

  • Essay: Your essay must include answers to all 5 questions and may not exceed one typed page. Please submit only Word or PDF files; Pages files will not be accepted.
    • Describe why you want to attend the Opera Institute.
    • Describe how you would benefit from the program.
    • Describe one of your most gratifying experiences as a singer.
    • Explain what areas you feel you need to work on as a singer.
    • Explain your goals for the future, both short-term and long-term.
  • Photo: Upload a photo cropped to show the student from the shoulders up; no hats or sunglasses may be worn. Professional headshots are permitted but neither required nor expected. These photos are used only to identify applicants in review. Please submit only files in JPG, JPEG, PNG, or TIFF formats.
  • Letter of Recommendation: Applications must include one letter of recommendation from a teacher. Students will enter the teacher’s email address as part of the online application form; the teacher will receive instructions on submitting the letter of recommendation once the application has been submitted. Students are responsible for communicating with their teacher to ensure that the recommendation is received within three days of the application deadline. We recommend that students ask their teachers to whitelist to ensure that the request for the recommendation letter is received. Recommendation letters can be uploaded as Word or PDF files.
  • $25 Application Fee: The $25 application fee can be paid via credit card, debit card, or PayPal. While these methods are strongly preferred, please contact Institute staff for other options if they are not feasible for you.

Optional Résumé: Students also have the option to submit a résumé. Résumés may only be one page (one page total; not front-and-back). Please submit résumés in Word or PDF files; Pages files will not be accepted.


The Kennedy Center welcomes all applicants.

All audition and program locations are wheelchair accessible.

If you have questions about accessibility or accommodations, you may contact the Office of Accessibility directly at (202) 416-8727 (voice) or

Tuition & Scholarships

The costs below are for the three weeks of the 2018 WNO Opera Institute:


Opera Institute has partial and full tuition scholarships available for students with financial need. However, all students are encouraged to find additional funding through businesses in their community, their schools, and local music societies. Some students even have created their own benefit concerts!

Scholarship applications are separate from the online application, and must be received by February 5, 2018. Applicants should not wait to hear if they are accepted to request financial assistance. If accepted, you may be required to confirm or deny your participation in the Institute, and submit a non-refundable deposit, before your scholarship application can be processed.

Please do not fax or email scholarship applications. Completed applications should be mailed to:

Education/Opera Institute
ATTN: Scholarships
The Kennedy Center
P.O. Box 101510
Arlington, VA 22210

Students applying for scholarships must provide:

  • Proof of annual parent/guardian income (IRS 1040/1040A)
  • A statement of need; Note: This statement should describe any financial considerations not apparent in the proof of annual parent/guardian income and scholarship form. It is not a description of the student’s need for training.
  • Completed Scholarship Form.