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Enter Entries open 01 March - 30 April 2024

2024 Herald Sun Aria Competition heats and semi final dates:

  • Sunday 18 August - Heats 
  • Monday 19 August - Semi Finals 

Venue for Heats & Semi-Finals: Ballarat Mechanics Institute, Minerva Space, Sturt St, Ballarat

 

The Herald Sun Aria Final - Date TBC

Venue: Melbourne Recital Centre

 

We have partnered with MyStage to create an innovative competition management system that helps our volunteers and staff run a smooth event.  Song titles, sheet music and backing tracks can all be uploaded in preparation for the event. 

A MyStage account is required.

The Herald Sun Aria in partnership with Melbourne Opera

The Herald Sun Aria, established in 1924, is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious prize for emerging classical singers. Now in partnership with Melbourne Opera and Medownick Laser Clinic, in 2024, we celebrate 100 years of Herald Sun Aria!

Widely regarded as the nation’s most prestigious competition for emerging opera singers, the Aria offers nearly $60,000 in cash prizes (including the Medownick First Prize) to enrich the training of our brightest talent. Entries must be aged between 19 – 36 years of age for this wonderful competition.

The first round Heats and Semi Finals are conducted by the Royal South Street Society Ballarat Eisteddfod, and the Final is held in Melbourne - The 2024 Centenary of the Herald Sun Aria will be held at the Melbourne Concert Centre.

A night of opera – watch the drama and anticipation unfurl as six finalists compete against each other in the Herald Sun Aria Final accompanied by the Melbourne Opera Orchestra.

The finalists will perform two Arias each, giving the audience an insight into various world operas as well as a night of sophisticated exhilaration. The Master of Ceremonies will give a brief synopsis of each Aria and will be supported by music and voice students performances.

In 2024 the Herald Sun Aria celebrates 100 years of launching the international careers of many well-known singers, including: Dame Malvina Major (1964) Dame Kiri Te Kanawa 1965), Jonathan Summers (1973), Judith Henley (1976), Roger Lemke (1985), Jason Wasley (1993), and Rachelle Durkin (2000)

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News

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Stories

Learn more about the Aria discipline from our collection of stories, historical records and media....

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Dame Kiri performance at Her Majesty’s

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Explore

Explore our history timeline

The Herald Sun Aria, established in 1924, is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious prize for emerging classical singers. Now in partnership with Melbourne Opera, in 2024, we celebrate 100 years of Herald Sun Aria!

1924

The Grand Opera contest becomes the Sun Aria competition and is won by Lawrence Power from South Australia. Since 1924, the Herald Sun Aria has never been won by the same competitor twice and throughout its history has provided young opera singers with the opportunity to take their talent to the world. As one winner commented
“A win at South Street is the hallmark that leads to fame.’
The “Most Graceful Physical Culture Girl” is introduced into the Calisthenics Section. Permission is granted to Mr. Warne Wilson to install a radio to broadcast the Competitions from the Coliseum.

1924

The Grand Opera contest becomes the Sun Aria competition and is won by Lawrence Power from South Australia. Since 1924, the Herald Sun Aria has never been won by the same competitor twice and throughout its history has provided young opera singers with the opportunity to take their talent to the world.

As one winner commented

“A win at South Street is the hallmark that leads to fame.’

The “Most Graceful Physical Culture Girl” is introduced into the Calisthenics Section.

Permission is granted to Mr. Warne Wilson to install a radio to broadcast the Competitions from the Coliseum.

1926

Dame Nellie Melba sings at benefit concert for South Street at the Coliseum and 3000 people pack the hall as new sections including a jazz concert are added to the competitions.

1928

The Sun Aria competition attracts a record number of entrants, with 110 aspiring singers travelling to Ballarat from across the country.

The Australian Travel Service Pty. Ltd. promotes a Commonwealth wide contest for a singer to travel free to Wales with the Welsh Delegation, along with an additional 50 Pounds cash to compete in the Welsh Eisteddfod. The Victorian section of the contest is held at South Street, and won by Eric Jones of Northcote.

1931

Topical subjects dominate the Eisteddfod’s literary competition, including Australian Literary Achievements in the Twentieth Century, The Machine Age and its Effect on Human LifeThe Australian Debt to the Aboriginal Race and The Problem of Hospital Finance in Australia.

Passionate supporter of South Street Dame Nellie Melba dies.

1934

Radio 3BA broadcasts for half an hour on the first night of the Sun Aria and the Duke of Gloucester attends the afternoon session of the Band Contest. The contests prove so popular that applications are made for a state holiday and bank holiday to allow people time off to watch bands compete from around the country.

Events at City Oval include Highland dancing, pipe band contests and quick step contest, with teams from H.M.S. Sussex and H.M.S. Dunedin participating in a tug-o’-war event.

1940

South Street celebrates its 50th year of competitions and for the first time in many years the “house full” sign is posted outside the Alfred Hall when the final night of the Calisthenics is held. Debating is deleted for the first time from the competitions, not to return until 1997.

The first busts to make up the Prime Ministers Avenue in Ballarat are unveiled including Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton.

The Sun News agrees to hold the Semi Final of the Sun Aria in Ballarat with first prize worth 130 guineas, second prize 30 guineas and third prize 20 guineas.

1945

World War II ends and the Competitions recommence.

The Sun Aria Prize Money is raised to 300 Guineas, and the Vocal Section attracts 1,480 entries making it impossible to get through the work in the time allotted.  Net profits from the Competitions are donated to the Prisoner of War Fund through the Patriotic Funds Council.

1946

Returned soldiers competing in the Sun Aria are permitted to deduct their period of war service from their age, and outstanding young Ballarat soprano, Elsie Morison, is presented with a cheque for £510 from the Trust Committee to allow her to receive tuition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Elise went on to pursue an international career and become a regular member of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden where she sang not only the lead roles in Puccini’s La Boheme and Mozart’s Magic Flute but also appeared in operas by contemporary composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten and Francis Poulenc.

A ‘crowning’ highlight came in 1952 when she was asked to sing at a memorial Concert for King George VI at the Royal Albert hall – and again in 1953 when she sang as Australia’s representative at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey.

1956

The Olympic year ushers in a new era with the annual Eisteddfod opening in the new Civic Hall. After being proposed as far back as 1936 following the loss of the Coliseum, the new hall is generally well received, although some find it “lacks atmosphere”.

Having successfully surviving many efforts to destroy it, the Alfred Hall which was deemed cold, leaky and a health hazard is finally demolished.

The Sun Aria age limit is raised to 29 years for both males and females and Ballarat shines as Olympic Games events are held on Lake Wendouree.

1957

Australian born soprano, Elsie Morison gives a sell out concert in the Civic Hall, with the proceeds to be shared with South Street and the Ballarat Orphanage and a prize in established in her name.

The last link with the original founders of South Street is severed with the death of Mr. Theo Saunders at the age of 97.

1964

New Zealand entrants cross the puddle and successfully compete in the vocal sections by winning the Sun Aria in ’64, ’65 and ’66.

The Manawatu Society of Registered Music Teachers of New Zealand hopes to establish a similar contest to the Sun Aria for the Centennial Celebrations of Palmerston North, NZ.

Victoria, NSW and Tasmania Band Associations send their State Champions to Ballarat to compete in the Champion of Champions Contest – and a proposal is put forward to create a CWA Choral Contest for CWA Associations only.

The death of Lyle Blackman, Secretary of the Society is met with great sadness after serving the society for 58 years.

Ballarat National Theatre enters the Play Section and on the national stage, Beatlemania sweeps the nation.

 

1965

Royal South Street purchases Her Majesty’s Theatre at a cost of 32,500 pounds through the support of Ballarat businessmen and the State Government. Renamed The Memorial Theatre, it becomes the home of the Competitions for the next 22 years before being gifted to the City of Ballarat as part of an agreement to support the restoration and renovation of the building.

During the renovation period, South Street competitions were conducted in the City Hall.

A triumphant young Kiri Te Kanawa from New Zealand wins the Courier Ballad, Sun Aria, Star for Opera, and Elsie Morrison prizes.

1972

The Sun Aria increases the age limit for competitors  to 32 years.

1974

Deputy Premier, Lindsay Thompson attends a special dinner to celebrate the Sun Aria’s 50th anniversary, while The Most Graceful Physical Culture Girl Contest also celebrates half a century of competition.

Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin on Christmas Eve.

1975

Rex Taylor wins the Herald Sun Aria competition.

The first opening concert for the Competitions is launched with a Music Hall theme. Audiences are invited to wear period costume and Sir Arthur Nicholson, Mayor of Ballarat, and his wife arrive by horse drawn coach.

1990

The competitions return to the beautifully renovated Her Majesty’s and an open day is held with more than 1000 people turning out to inspect the resplendent interiors.

TV auditions for drama are introduced with the assistance of Grundy Productions and VIC TV, with an overwhelming response and Linda Thompson wins the Herald Sun Aria.

“For the first time, a lot of singers saw opportunities to sing opera, in costume at home, The Aria was viewed as the springboard into that world.”

Linda Thompson.

1991

Royal South Street Society celebrates 100 years of competitions with a stellar cast of stars past and present performing in a special centenary concert – with dancers David Kierce and Joanne Bradley and former Sun Aria winners Rosemary Boyle and Raymond Myers. And the  Sun Aria changes it name to the Herald Sun Aria.

The Premier of Victorian, the Hon. Joan Kirner, also a past South Street winner, officially opens the competitions.

Jan Russ, casting director for Neighbours, is appointed Adjudicator for the TV auditions and one successful prize winner gets a guernsey and joins Ramsay Street locals on the long running Australian soap.

A special Centenary Essay Competition is launched with winners presented with specially struck Centenary medallions and prize money.

Mrs Barb Dunlop becomes the first female to be elected to the Royal South Street Society Committee.

1993

Keeping pace with the times, new successful sections are added to the Competition’s program including Contemporary Choral and Modern Vocal Ensembles. A weekend Play Festival is also introduced with adjudicators Julian Oldfield and Peter Tullock.

The Mechanics Institute is used for the Brass Bands’ warm-up.

The Federal Minister for Arts, Senator Bob McMullan visits the Eisteddfod and a civic reception is held for Jason Wasley, Herald Sun Aria Winner.

1999

Barb Dunlop becomes the first female President of the Royal South Street Society which began 120 year earlier in 1879 as the Young Men’s General Debating Society.

The Herald Sun Aria celebrates 75 years, with Maxine Montgomery a Ballarat Soprano one of six finalists selected to compete for a Grand Prize of $10,000 cash and $20,000 scholarship for overseas tuition. The evening was compered by Roger Lemke, the son and grandson of one of Ballarat’s famous singing families, and winner of the Aria in 1985.

“…The Herald Sun Aria is well established as one of the finest singing competitions in the country, with a healthy future for the next generations of performers.”

South Street runs a unique Highland Pipe Competition with a live cross to 3BA

Royal South Street is numbered in the top three most valuable Ballarat’s most valuable icons and the City of Ballarat recognises the remarkable work of South Street’s volunteers by hosting a Civic Reception.