. The Cooper-Bing is an internationally recognized vocal competition that has celebrated and supported emerging young artists in opera. Dubbed “The Olympics of Opera”, this competition encourages talent, creates artistic opportunity, and helps welcome the next generation into the professional opera community. Five finalists compete for the grand prize of $10,000! The 2024 competition will be emceed by Christopher Purdy.
Under the leadership of Irma M. Cooper, Opera Columbus launched its vocal competition in 1983, two years after the company was founded. Ms. Cooper believed a vocal competition would help fill young singers’ need for exposure to, and constructive feedback from, well-respected professionals from the opera industry. The competition has helped to launch the careers of many singers, including world renowned mezzo -soprano Denyce Graves and Metropolitan Opera artists Dina Kuznetsova, Richard Paul Fink, Lucas Meachem, Nicole Heaston, Richard Zeller, Susan Foster, and Alyson Cambridge. Several of Columbus’ performance venues have hosted the event, including the Palace Theatre (1983–1991), the Ohio Theatre (1992), Mees Hall at Capital University ’s Conservatory of Music (1992–2003), Weigel Hall Auditorium at The Ohio State University (2004–2012) and our current venue and new home of Opera Columbus, the Southern Theatre (2013–present). In addition to being a co-founder of Opera Columbus, Ms. Cooper was Director of the Opera Columbus Vocal Competition and served on the Opera Columbus Board of Trustees, where she was honored as a Life Trustee. In 2014, thanks to a generous donation from Arthur and Hetty Bing that will help to ensure the future sustainability of the competition, the name of the event has been changed to the Cooper-Bing Vocal Competition. The competition is also supported by six life trustees and others who made major financial commitments to endow our competition including, Sheldon and Becky Taft, Dr. Henry Sauls, the Ruth and Dick McNeal Fund, Katie and Willie Grové, Lyman Leathers, Johanna Destefano, Polly Lindeman, and Charlie Warner.