It's time to look forward to the Lexus Song Quest with entries now open until March 31.

The stakes have never been higher at New Zealand's most exciting night of opera with $50,000 in prizes up for grabs for the winner.

Over the years, Hawke's Bay singers have had extraordinary success in the biennial Lexus (previously Mobil) Song Quest.

Recent winners have included bass Phillip Rhodes and sopranos Anna Leese and Madeleine Pierard, with other placings for baritones Wade Kernot and Benson Wilson, all having lived and studied with teachers in this district. Quite a notable record.

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Numerous other singers, such as 2014 winner, soprano Isabella Moore and 2012 winner, Sol3 Mio's Amitai Pati, were heard, by Hawke's Bay audiences prior to their successes, when they competed in the annual Aria Competition at the Easter Festival of the Napier Performing Arts Competitions Society.

From its inception almost 60 years ago, the Song Quest has been New Zealand opera's most prestigious singing competition and the entry to international singing, launching the world famous opera careers of many talented New Zealanders such as Dame Malvina Major and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

Auditions will be from May 16-19, masterclasses for 10 semifinalists with head judge Yvonne Kenny from July 9-15 and the Grand Final Gala event in the Auckland Town Hall on July 23.