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The Kennedy Center

Opera Institute

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Opera Institute ever accept anyone who is not in the 15 - 18 year age bracket?

Students who are 19 years old who are currently in high school are welcome to apply. However, we do not accept anyone younger than 15 years old. Part of Opera Institute's goal is to prepare students for college music programs. The latter part of high school is the best time to audition.

Will my audition be scored differently if I submit a video rather than audition live?

No. The live auditions and the video auditions are judged on the same rubric and by the same judges. No preference is given to either type of audition.

Can I bring my own accompanist to the audition?

Students auditioning live must use the provided accompanist. Students will not have the opportunity to rehearse with the accompanist ahead of time, although they will have the opportunity to discuss tempo and markings. Our accompanist is excellent–you will be in good hands.

What if my teacher recommendation is not completed by the application deadline?

Students are responsible for communicating with their teachers to ensure that recommendation letters are received within three days of the application deadline. Please contact us immediately if you have any issues so that your audition is not disqualified.

When will I find out if I was accepted?

All applicants should be notified within three weeks of the final live audition date.

What does it mean to be on the waitlist? What if I wish to withdraw from this list?

Opera Institute creates a waitlist each year which will remain open until the start of the program. Once students have been told they have been placed on the waitlist, they will only be contacted again if a space becomes available and we are able to invite them to attend the program. We cannot estimate how many will be accepted from the waitlist. Please contact us as soon as possible if you would like to be removed from the waitlist; there are many deserving students eager to be a part of the program. In general, students placed on the waitlist are believed by the audition panelists to be capable of completing Opera Institute's challenging curriculum successfully. Students accepted from the waitlist usually perform very well in the program.

Which airport should I fly in to?

Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) is the most convenient to American University and is approximately 30 minutes from campus during rush hour by cab. Washington Metro (subway) trains run daily from Reagan National Airport into downtown Washington on the yellow or blue lines. To get to AU, transfer to the red line at Gallery Place station or Metro Center station in the direction of Shady Grove and get off at the Tenleytown/AU station. Dulles International Airport (IAD) is about 45 minutes from campus, and Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) is about one hour from campus. Students are responsible for getting to the AU campus on the scheduled arrival date. Airport shuttle services may also be an option.

What will I do during weekends at Opera Institute?

Since the majority of our students choose to stay at American University during the course of the program, you will spend the weekend with your classmates and new friends. Resident Assistants (RA's) plan weekend activities throughout Washington, DC to places such as the Smithsonian, the National Cathedral, the zoo, etc. There is also time on the weekends to use the practice rooms at Katzen Arts Center, work on homework, and relax...a bit.

Are there vegetarian and vegan dining options in the American University dining halls?

Yes. The dining facilities at American University are capable of handling nearly all dietary needs.

Does Opera Institute ever accept applications after the deadline?

Applications must be submitted by the deadline to be considered. If an accepted student chooses not to participate in the Institute, the space will be offered to a waitlisted student who has auditioned; spots are not opened to additional applicants.

Can I participate in the Opera Institute if I have a conflict during the dates of the program?

Opera Institute participants are required to attend all Institute events and will not be excused for conflicting performances or programs. Students must be available to participate in the full three weeks of the program.

What repertoire will I perform at Opera Institute?

Institute students will be assigned an Italian art song and an opera scene to study and perform as part of the Institute. Students will sing for all faculty members on the first day of the program. Using this performance as a guide, age-appropriate repertoire will be chosen based on the individual and combined needs of the current students. No music is assigned prior to the Institute. Italian art songs focus on solo singing; opera scenes focus on character and ensemble. Arias are usually not included in opera scenes.