Rules and regulations

Viva Classic Live - Vocal Competition 2024

1. General Conditions
2. Application
3. The Competition
4. Programme & Repertoire
5. Prizes
6. Facilities
7. Liability and agreements

1. General Conditions

1.1. The 2024 Viva Classic Live Vocal Competition (VCLVC or “the Competition”) will occur in Mönchengladbach and Venlo, between June 10 and September 11, 2024 inclusive.

1.2. The Vocal Competition in 2024 has one category: Opera

1.3. The Competition is open to singers of all nationalities who:
        a. have the age of max 30 years;
        b. have completed their professional education or are currently student of a conservatory an equivalent         level of training;
        c. are from Limburg or North Rhine-Westphalia (relationship with the region through origin, residence,         study or work, actual or in the past).

1.4. Singers wishing to enter the Competition must take part in the VCLVC First Round via YouTube video recording. Deadline: 10th of June 2024.

1.5. All decisions of the jury shall be final, and no correspondence will be entered into regarding its decisions.

1.6. The timetable of the competition is the following:

First Round - Monday June 10, 2024
Application deadline First Round (until midnight)

Second Round - Monday July 1st or Tuesday July 2nd, 2024
Second Round: live audition and two masterclasses in Theater Mönchengladbach
Monday 1 | 11.30 – 20.30 hrs or
Tuesday 2 | 11.30 – 20.30 hrs
Masterclasses by Detlef Soelter (Individual) and/or Sybrand van der Werf (collective)

The candidate can in principle indicate mid-June whether he/she prefers day 1 or day 2, but the organization ultimately has the final say. The same applies to a choice between shift 1 or 2 (respectively 11.30 am - 7.00 pm or 1.00 pm - 8.30 pm). It is problematic to change your day or shift after confirmation.

Final - Tuesday, September 10, 2024
Rehearsals with the five finalists with piano and conductor Federico Santi
Tuesday 2 | 13.00 – 17.00 hrs

Final - Wednesday, September 11, 2024
Grand Final at Viva Classic Live / Theater De Maaspoort, Venlo.
13.00 – 16.30 hrs | Joint rehearsal with orchestra and sound check
20.00 – 22.00 hrs | Final: Live performance with Orchestra by finalists at Viva Classic Live Grand Final

The competition schedule is subject to change

2. Application

2.1. Applications can only be made via the online registration form of the VCL Vocal Competition. The application is only definite after the Participant has paid the application fee and submitted all required information and documentation correctly.

2.2. Application and entry fee:

Payment and inscription deadlines for the first rounds are announced on our website.
Application fee is € 25 (incl. free entry at the Viva Classic Live Grand Final)
The entry fee will not be refunded to Participants who withdraw from the Competition after acceptance.

3. The Competition

3.1. If the applicant gets through to the next rounds of the Competition, he/she will be informed about the exact schedule in due course.

3.2. The sequence of performances by the participants will be decided by the Competition.

3.3. The masterclasses in the second round are an integral and compulsory part of the Competition.

3.4. The members of the Jury of the Competition are the following:

  • Sef Thissen, Baritone and initiator of Viva Classic Live (chair of the jury)
  • Andreas Wendholz, Opera director of Theater Krefeld-Mönchengladbach
  • Therese Renick, Director Opern- und Konzertagentur Renick
  • Fenna Ograjensek, Soprano and cultural entrepreneur, business manager Opera Compact

3.5. Participants shall not communicate with jury members during the Competition, nor shall any other person communicate with the jury members on behalf of any competitor. Violation of this rule will result in disqualification from the Competition.

3.6. Following the Semi-finals, each candidate not selected to go through to the Finals, may request a jury report.

3.7. Should a participant be a regular student of one of the members of the jury, the latter will abstain from the jury deliberations in his or her respect.

3.8. The jury has the right not to grant a prize.

3.9. The Finals are open to the public. Therefore, appropriate evening dress is advised for the Final.

3.10. All participants entering the Competition proper shall provide the organisation with legible (not annotated) copies of the sheet music of their complete repertoire before June 21, 2024 via e-mail.

3.11. All participants entering the Competition proper shall bring at least 1 set of legible (not annotated) copies of the sheet music of their complete repertoire at the semi-final and final for the rehearsal pianist.

3.12. The organisation cannot provide photocopying facilities during the Competition.

4. Programme & Repertoire

4.1. The Competition is divided into three Rounds: First Round, Semi-final and the Grand Final.

4.2. Repertoire First Round:

  • Video registration of two Arias of own choice in two different languages and two different style periods, accompanied by piano;
  • Short motivation explaining the relation of the candidate with Limburg or or North Rhine-Westphalia  through origin, residence, study or work, actual or in the past.

4.3. Repertoire Second Round / Semi-Final:

  • Live performance of (parts of) two or three Arias accompanied by piano;
  • Candidates make a program of six arias, at least three different languages ​​and three different style periods, of which at least one aria by Mozart;
  • candidates can choose one or more arias that can be performed with choir. During the final, the finalist can optionally be accompanied by the project choir in addition to the orchestra.

During the semi-final, the candidate may start with an aria of their choice and the jury will then select 1 or 2 more arias.

4.4. Masterclasses Semi-Final:

Participation in the two Masterclasses will be an integral part of the semi-finals

4.5. Repertoire Grand Final:

  •     Live performance of two Aria’s accompanied by orchestra
  • Candidates who are admitted to the Viva Classic Live Grand Finale may choose one aria from their Semi-Final program, the second aria from the Semi-Final program will be chosen by the jury.
  • Any accompaniment by the project choir is on the basis of a joint decision by the jury and the finalist.

4.6. The arias must be performed in the original language and for the various voice types authorized key.

4.7. The arias must be sung from memory.

5. Prizes

The Competition awards the following prizes in cash and in kind:

Scheuten Foundation Awards
The Competition 2024 awards the following prizes in cash:

  • 1st Prize € 1,500
  • 2nd Prize € 1,000
  • 3rd Prize €  500

Willy Caron Trophy

  • Special Award for the 1ste place: The "Willy Caron Trophy", named after the famous opera singer from Venlo.

Opera Compact Award

  • Development prize: a role in a future Opera Compact production

Opernstudio Niederrhein Award

  • Development prize: participation as a singer in a festive opera gala in cultural season 2024-’25. and/or 
  • Development prize: invitation for participation as a singer in the Opernstudio Niederrhein in cultural season 2024-’25.

Viva Classic Live Award

  • Development prize: participation as a singer in a festive opera gala in cultural season 2024-’25.

Incentive awards

  • Incentive awards: free tickets for classical music and dance performances in the Maaspoort and Krefeld-Monchengladbach Theatres.
  • Invitation for Masterclasses with the participants of the Opernstudio Niederrhein.

Both in cultural season 2024-’25.

This year the allocation of the specific development and incentive prizes is not linked to the ranking of the winners. The jury determines which prize suits which finalist. The jury may also refrain from awarding one or more of these prizes.

6. Facilities

6.1. The Competition will supply a free lunch and dinner buffet and refreshments during the semi-finals at Theatre Monchengladbach and during the finals at the Open-Air-Concert in Venlo.

6.2. Prior to the audition of the second round on July 1 or 2, the participants can dispose of a rehearsal room for approx. 30 – 60 minutes and can rehearse approx. 10 minutes with the pianist who also accompanies the audition.  Prior to the grand finale, there is also room for rehearsals in the cloakrooms of Maaspoort Theatre.

6.3. The finalist will be offered basic hotel accommodation on September 10th en 11th.

6.4. The final on Wednesday 11 September is freely accessible to the public, including all applicants and their relatives and friends. 

6.5. Following the competition, an exploratory interview will be held with each finalist to explore opportunities for further talent development, performances and engagements in the Euregio RMN.

7. Liability and agreements

7.1. The obtaining of appropriate travel documents, visas and insurance is the sole responsibility of each competitor. The Competition accepts no liability of any kind whatsoever for any personal illness or injury sustained by the competitor, nor for loss or damage to a competitor’s belongings during transit or while at the competition. Medical costs, of whatever nature, will not be reimbursed by VCL. A doctor will be on call for the duration of the Competition in case of any medical emergency.

7.2. By submitting the application form through the website, applicants state their agreement:

  • With all articles in the regulations;
  • With all ensuing engagements as part of any prize.
  • That all concert and recording engagements obtained by the Competition or its designates as part of the prizes will not be subject to any fee payable to the prize-winner’s current or future artist management;
  • That the competition is authorized to record, videotape, film, broadcast, or photograph any Competition concerts or events for any purpose, without payment of any fee. All rights, including copyright in such media shall vest in and be owned by the Competition in perpetuity. Photographs or video recordings cannot be made by any other parties without prior written permission of the IVC.

7.3. All rights reserved. Programme is subject to change.


  • Theater Mönchengladbach | Odenkirchener Str. 78, 41236 Mönchengladbach, Germany |
  • Theater De Maaspoort | Oude Markt 30, 5911 HH Venlo |
  • Viva Classic Live | Markt 2, 5911 HD Venlo |

The jury will consist of the following opera experts:

  • Sef Thissen, baritone and initiator of Viva Classic Live (chairman of the jury)
  • Andreas Wendholz, Opera Director von Theater Krefeld-Mönchengladbach
  • Therese Renick, Director of Opera and Concert Agency Renick
  • Fenna Ograjensek, soprano and cultural entrepreneur, manager of Opera Compact

Sef Thissen


Thissen follows a different route in his musical career than many of his musical colleagues. This unusual route description ultimately leads him continuously to the desired horizons. Once arrived, Thissen looks forward to new challenges and prospects.

Andreas Wendholz


Andreas Wendholz was born in Bremen and after high school studied German language and literature, history and art history at the universities of Göttingen and Bremen.

Andreas Wendholz worked as a musical theater dramaturge in the theaters in Bremen, Hildesheim and Osnabrück. In 1994 he received a grant from the Richard Wagner Association. From 1996 to 1998 he was chief dramaturge at the Aalto Theater in Essen. He then took over the opera direction for three seasons at the then Vereinigte Städtische Bühnen Krefeld and Mönchengladbach.

From 2001 to 2008 he was Artistic Director and Deputy State Director of the State Theater of Nuremberg.

In 2009 he stayed in Israel.

He has worked as a guest dramaturge for the Komische Oper Berlin, the Aalto Music Theater in Essen, the Regensburg Theater and the Music of the Centuries Festival in Stuttgart, among others.

Since 2010, Andreas Wendholz has been opera director and deputy general director of the Theater Krefeld-Mönchengladbach, and in 2012 he founded the Opernstudio Niederrhein, which he directs.

Therese Renick

Therese Renick, born in St. Louis (USA), vocal studies in the USA and in Vienna with KS.Hilde Zadek, draws upon a long and successful career as an opera- and concert singer, as a voice teacher, and as a management consultant. Her singing career spanned a period of over 25 years as a dramatic mezzo-soprano in numerous European opera houses, including Munich, Vienna, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Mannheim, and Essen, and she also appeared at the Salzburg and Bregenz Festivals.

She sang all of the important roles of her Fach and is especially known for her interpretations of the major Verdi-Mezzo-roles.

Because of her vast stage experience, her knowledge in management, and her teaching skills,
Therese Renick is regularly invited to speak at seminars in Musikhochschulen and universities
in Germany and abroad, among others in Leipzig, Munich, Saarbrücken, Hannover, and
Hamburg, as well as the German Vocal Arts Institute in Seattle. In addition, she lectures at
major international conventions, including the Eurovox-Kongress in Vienna and the
Gesangswissenschaftliche Tagungen in Vienna, at the International Congress of Voice
Teachers in Paris and at the 15. Wiener Gesangswissenschaftliche Tagung, theme of which
was „Kunstgesang: Sprung in die Karriere";. At the annual Congress of the BDG in Essen she
presented her lecture "Operngesang: Wunderland im Stresszustand";.
Additionally, Therese Renick was one of the featured speakers at the annual conference of the
National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) in Orlando, Florida. Her theme: „The
European and US Agency Systems - Finding your Agent.“ She has served numerous times on
the jury for the „AIMS-Meistersinger-Gesangswettbewerb" in Graz/Austria, as well as the
Mozart-Competition of the Absalom-Stiftung in Hamburg.

Since 2008 Therese Renick directs and owns an internationally active Opera and Concert

Fenna Ograjensek

Soprano Fenna Ograjensek is a much sought-after and versatile singer. She is known for her warm voice, musicality and connection with her audience.
Fenna has worked with companies such as Holland Opera, Opera Spanga, Opera Zuid and many others. Her concerts took her to major concert halls around the world, such as Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and the Philharmonie Berlin.

As a cultural connector, Fenna wants to use her talents to contribute to a vibrant cultural life in the region where she lives. Together with fellow Limburg artists, she organised the My Barbara concert with the Metropole Orchestra, made four successful productions with Opera 2.0 and appeared in several recital programmes including 'Die Goldenen Zwanziger' and 'American Rep'.
From 2007 to 2021, she was the driving force behind the Music Young for Old Foundation. From the very first hour, she has been artistic director of the Summer Festival Voerendaal, which will celebrate its second anniversary in 2025.

In 2018, together with Sybrand van der Werf, she founded the new opera company Opera Compact, for which she is business leader and has already appeared on stage as Leonore (Fidelio) and Agathe (Freischütz).

Next season, Fenna can be seen as Titania in Fairy Queen and the title role in Madama Butterfly. 

Detlef Soelter

SEEING MUSIC... HEARING IMAGES... (more about the Masterclass by Detlef Soelter)

Detlef Soelter has been working as a director for musical theater under this motto for over 20 years. With more than 50 productions both in Germany and abroad, his approach to directing musical theater is characterized by the search for truth behind the surface, the story behind the story, not only in the libretto but especially in the music.
It is primarily a search for clearly understandable, decipherable images that allow us to take a poetic look into the deeper souls of the characters. 

Detlef: "my coaching during the Masterclass of the VCL Vocal Competition aims to align vocal expression with physical and scenic expression. In the individual coaching sessions, we will work on highlighting the dramatic and emotional content of the arias you bring with the power of your own imagination, making it immediately tangible for the audience. Elements of dramatic, physical, and vocal expression will be conveyed and trained."