DEBUT is an international Classical Singing Competition, which supports young opera singers embarking on their career. The contest is open to the following voice types: soprano, mezzo-soprano & alto, tenor, countertenor and baritone & bass. It gives young soloists an opportunity to appear in a competition with a strong international profile in the presence of a distinguished judging panel. The event is held every second year in Weikersheim, which following a three-month entry phase serve as the venue for the preliminary rounds and the competition.

The next DEBUT Classical Singing Competition will take place in September 2024. 


Clarry Bartha was appointed Artistic Director of the DEBUT Classical Singing Competition in 2016. She has since given the competition a completely new direction, the biggest change being the commissioning of a work from a contemporary composer, resulting in a specific thematic focus for each new edition. In addition to highly endowed main prizes, there are also separate prizes for the best interpretation of the commissioned work as well as art lieder. This challenge places even stronger emphasis on the DEBUT singers’ versatility. 

Sustained cooperation and the advancement of participants are key priorities for Clarry Bartha. Her wish is that during the competition week they should have a chance to develop in a friendly atmosphere of healthy competitive pressure and gain valuable experience as they embark on what will hopefully be a long and successful professional career. 

Clarry Bartha sees the ability to arouse other people’s emotions with human voices – and to perceive such emotions in oneself – as a tremendous gift. DEBUT’s objective is to serve up-and-coming talents with distinctive voices as a springboard to the big stage and a future career.

Adrian Mocanu

Lieder Prize

Since 2018 DEBUT gave even greater prominence to lieder as a separate art form.

Lieder are considered to be an integral element of sustainable training in classical singing. In order to pay due tribute to this art form in the competition, the singers at DEBUT will perform a contemporary lied composed by Adrian Mocanu from the semi-final onwards. Two lieder prizes will be awarded as part of the public DEBUT lieder recital: best presentation "German lied / lied from Eastern Europe and the Baltic States" as well as best presentation "Contemporary lied.

Adrian Mocanu is a composer born in 1989 in Kyiv. He was studying music composition at the National Music Academy of Ukraine and carried out his postgraduate studies at Centro Superior de Enseñanza Musical Katarina Gurska in Madrid, Spain.

He received the ‘Gaude Polonia’ scholarship of the Ministry of Culture of Poland and was taking classes at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw in 2019, and in 2022 was granted a scholarship of the Academy of Fine Arts of Paris for an artistic residency at Casa de Velázquez - the Academy of France in Madrid. He became the composer-in-residence of the Juventudes Musicales of Spain for the 2023/24 season and carried out an artistic residency at The Green Room for Performing Artists in Cologne. In 2024, he was granted the Weltoffenes Berlin Scholarship of the Senate of Berlin.

Read more


The competition is sponsored by companies and institutions in the local region.

For the 11th time in a row the DEBUT Classical Singing Competition was managed without any form of public funding. This is first and foremost the achievement of its initiator and founder, Dr. Manfred Wittenstein, Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board of WITTENSTEIN SE. His longstanding commitment – to providing opportunities to young soloists starting out on a musical career, networking them together and introducing them to a broad public – is meanwhile emulated by numerous other sponsors in the lovely Tauber Valley.

Read more


Weikersheim Castle and the TauberPhilharmonie at Weikersheim are the perfect setting.

Both the qualifying rounds and the semifinal will take place against the historic backdrop of Weikersheim Castle while the location for the lieder recital will be the “Roter Saal” of the Deutschordensschlosses Bad Mergentheim . The week will end with the traditional gala concert and in the new TauberPhilharmonie in Weikersheim.

Read more


The young singers are accompanied by the Würzburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Würzburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gábor Hontvári, will abandon the orchestra pit to demonstrate its excellent qualities as a concert orchestra.


The next DEBUT Classical Singing Competition will take place in September 2024. 

  • Female singers aged 34 or under 
  • Male singers aged 34 or under

(All people born in or after the year 1990 are eligible to apply)

6 arias, comprised of

  • 4 compulsory pieces taken from the aria repertoire
  • 2 of your own choice

Two out of the six arias to be sung during the qualifying rounds must be selected by the competitors. Arias in different languages and from different periods are desirable, and they may also include one operetta aria. All arias must be sung in the original language.


5 lieder, comprised of

  • 1 compulsory, contemporary piece (composed especially for DEBUT), semi-final
  • 4 pieces of your own choice selected from the following composers:

German Lied:

Arnold Schönberg, Paul Hindemith, Aribert Reimann, Erwin Schulhoff

Lieder from Eastern Europe and the Baltic States

Dora Pejačević, Zoltán Kodály, George Enescu, Pancho Vladigerov, Feliksas Bajoras, Bohuslav Martinů, Witold Lutosławski, Karol Szymanowski, Dmitri Schostakowitsch, Mieczysław Weinberg, Emīls Dārziņš

(In the case of published German translations, these may also be sung)

  • Technical skill
  • Musical interpretation (rhythm, phrasing, expression)
  • Voice quality
  • Artistic personality / presence
  • Registration fee: 40 EUR
  • Participation fee for the competition week: 200 EUR
  • Qualifying rounds
  • Semifinal
  • Lieder recital
  • Final / gala concert


1st prize: Golden Victoria and  € 10,000                  
2nd prize: Silver Victoria and € 7,500     
3rd prize: Bronze Victoria and € 5,000     

Various Lieder- and special prizes




Artistic Director

Artistic Director

Clarry Bartha

Clarry Bartha

Clarry Bartha was born in Västeras (Sweden) to Hungarian-Swedish parents in 1956. At the age of 16, she moved to Rome to study at the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia under Maria Teresia Pediconi. She obtained her masterclass diploma under Giorgio Favaretto at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and subsequently pursued further studies in London under Vera Rosza. She won first prizes at the Beniamino Gigli and Vincenzo Bellini international singing competitions in Italy.

Pia-Marie Nilsson

The opera singer Pia-Marie Nilsson will once again accompany and support all participants of the 2024 DEBUT qualification rounds. The focus of their collaborative work will be primarily on tips for voice training and stage presence.

Ralf Tiedemann

For DEBUT 2024, Ralf Tiedemann - holistic coach and longtime editor-in-chief of „Das Opernglas“. - was once again invited to hold a workshop for the participants during the qualification rounds on the topic of "Mental strength for professional opera singers". 

Ralf Tiedemann | KlangWellenReiter – Mit Sounds + Vibes in Balance und im Flow.

Accompanists 2024

Michael Schütze

Michael Schütze

Michael Schütze studied piano and Lied accompaniment at the Hochschule für Musik Dresden and continued his education at the Tanglewood Music Center (USA). He performs as a soloist, serves as a pianist for international singing competitions, and accompanies renowned singers. Since 2011, he has been a professor at the Hochschule für Musik Dresden and, since 2019, holds a piano professorship at the Hochschule für Kirchenmusik Dresden.
Eberhard Leuser

Eberhard Leuser

Eberhard Leuser has been a répétiteur in the vocal department at the Stuttgart State University of Music and Performing Arts since 1993. He is a fellow of the Richard-Wagner-Foundation and has distinguished himself as a piano accompanist at various international competitions, as well as a chamber music partner to renowned singers.
Gaiva Bandzinaite

Gaiva Bandzinaite

The Lithuanian pianist Gaiva Bandzinaite works as a vocal coach in the singing department at the Mozarteum University Salzburg. She regularly gives masterclasses and performs as an accompanist with various singers, such as at the Vienna Musikverein, Vienna Konzerthaus, and numerous festivals.
Doriana Tchakarova

Doriana Tchakarova

Doriana Tchakarova, born in Varna, Bulgaria, is a successful Lied pianist and chamber musician who regularly performs on prestigious concert stages and festivals throughout Europe. Various CD recordings with multiple award nominations highlight her chamber music activities. In addition to her artistic endeavors, she serves as a lecturer in vocal accompaniment at the University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart and artistic director of the PoeMus Art Song Festivals.

Review 2022

The Golden Victoria and €10,000 in cash were presented to Kudaibergen Abildin, a tenor from Kasachstan.

Second prize and €7,500 went to ukrainian soprano Inna Husieva. The Bronze Victoria and €5,000 were bestowed on tenor Beomjin Angelo Kim from South Korea.

Read more
Review 2022