In 1996, the first Klaudia Taev International Competition for Young Opera Singers took place in Pärnu. In addition to commemorating Klaudia Taev, the organizers also wanted to create a competition that took would place every other year and, together with the opera productions, help to develop a significant and reputable festival that would bring attention not only to Pärnu, but to the entire Republic of Estonia. The competition has since grown into one of the foremost international singing competitions, thanks to the passionate dedication of the organizers, the ideal infrastructure (Pärnu Concert Hall, Endla Theatre) and the atmosphere and charm of the city of Pärnu.
The first competition took place in 1996, on April 10-13.
It opened on April 10th with a recital by prima donna Margarita Voites in the town hall of Pärnu.
The competition was conducted in two rounds. The winner of the Competition was Kristina Vähi (Estonia). From the very beginning it has been compulsory for all participants to perform Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria".
In 1996, seventeen young singers from Estonia and Finland took part.