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Queen Sonja Singing Competition

The Queen Sonja Singing Competition is held every other year and attracts outstanding young singers within opera and classical music from all over the world. Her Majesty The Queen follows the competition and presents the prizes to the winners.

Prize winners achieve valuable exposure, significant cash prizes, important concert and opera engagements and assistance in developing their careers. Queen Sonja presents the award, including a graphic print signed The Queen herself. The prize winners have achieved engagements at most of the world's leading opera houses as results of their performances in Oslo.

The contralto Jasmin White was the winner of the Queen Sonja Singing Competition 2023. Photo: Per Ole Hagen / QSSC

Lise Davidsen is the last Norwegian winner of the competition so far (2015). The now world-renowned soprano hosted the final in 2023. Photo: Per Ole Hagen / QSSC

Participants from all over the world

The participants in the competition are primarily newly trained singers at the beginning of their careers in opera and classical music. Prior to the competition in August 2023, 521 singers from 58 nations applied to participate.

In addition to first, second and third prize, a prize for the best interpretation of a "lied" is awarded, as well as Ingrid Bjoner's scholarship, which goes to the best Norwegian participant.

Seungju Bahg from South Korea won the Queen Sonja International Music Competition 2017. Photo: Terje Bendiksby, NTB scanpix


The competition is run as a foundation and organised every other year with the collaboration of the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet,the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and the Royal Court.

International partners include Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London), Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich), Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin), Metropolitan Opera (New York) and Zurich Opera.

More about the foundation at


When the competition was established in 1988, it was for pianists. The aim was to create an international music arena that could showcase young musicians, and to give Norwegian soloists a chance to be considered on an international level.

The then Crown Princess Sonja congratulates Nigel Hill who won the first final in what was then called the Crown Princess Sonja International Music Competition. Photo: Lars N. Sæthre, Aftenposten / NTB

For the centenary birth celebration of Norwegian opera singer Kirsten Flagstad, it was decided that only singers would compete. This was a success, and afterwards the the competition has been solely for singers.

In 2023 the competition changed its name from Queen Sonja International Music Competition to Queen Sonja Singing Competition.


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Winners of QSSC

The winners of Queen Sonja Singing Competition (and before this Queen Sonja International Music Competition) since 1988:

  • 2023:Jasmin White, contralto (USA)
  • 2021: Maria Motolygina, soprano (Russia)
  • 2019: Sergey Kaydalov, barytone (Russia)
  • 2017: Mario Bahg, tenor (South Korea)
  • 2015: Lise Davidsen, soprano (Norway)
  • 2013: Kristina Mkhitaryan, soprano (Russia)
  • 2011: Dong-Hwan Lee, barytone (South Korea)
  • 2009: Seung-Gi Jung, barytone (South Korea)
  • 2007: Audun Iversen, barytone (Norway)
  • 2005: Daniel Behle, tenor (Germany)
  • 2003: Olga Mykytenko, soprano (Ukraine)
  • 2001: Marita Kvarving Sølberg, soprano (Norway)
  • 1999: Virginia Tola, soprano (Argentina)
  • 1997: Liao Changyong, barytone (China)
  • 1995: Akie Amou, soprano (Japan)
  • 1992: Simone Pedroni, piano (Italy)
  • 1988: Nigel Hill, piano (Great Britain)
Seungju Mario Bahg from South Korea won the Queen Sonja International Music Competition 2017. Photo: Terje Bendiksby, NTB scanpix