Founded by Jacint Vilardell in memory of the distinguished Catalan tenor Francesc Viñas, the competition has become one of the leading events in the world of opera and the lied.
The first edition was held in 1963 and is staged every year with the participation of singers aged between 18 and 35. Singers come from all over the world, many of whom have gone on to forge great international careers. Names such as Vicente Sardinero, Elena Obraztsova, Helga Müller-Molinari, Dalmau González, Kurt Rydl, Sumi Jo, Mariola Cantarero, Olga Borodina, Giuseppe Filianoti, Violeta Urmana, Zeljko Lucic, Elena de la Merced, Antonio Gandía and Marina Rebeka were discovered through the competition.
The jury has included famous singers such as Renata Tebaldi, Montserrat Caballé, Victòria dels Àngels, Giulietta Simionato, Franco Corelli, Giuseppe di Stefano, Joan Sutherland, Magda Olivero, Carlo Bergonzi and Elena Obraztsova.
Preliminary auditions are held at theatres in many different cities around the world and the trials and final concert are at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
The competition has a number of prizes (official, junior, special and extraordinary prizes), as well as other awards, such as study grants, concerts and contracts with opera houses in Spain and other countries.