1. Cardiff Singer of the World Competition
…is a classical singing competition that takes place on odd-numbered years. 20 representatives from around the world come together for one week in Cardiff, Wales to compete for cash prizes and the title of Cardiff Singer of the World.
2. So basically:
For the opera/song world, this is true.
3. THE US WAS IN A COMPETITION AND I DIDN’T HEAR ABOUT IT?!
No. You didn’t. Because it’s classical music. This country actually goes out of its way to ignore it…BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it now!
4. How are the competitors chosen?
Classical singers who show tremendous promise for an international career are nominated, they then have to audition to represent their country. It’s like American Idol, in that singing is the game (that is where the singing comparison ends. Completely different set of pipes required for this competition.) and there are multiple stops before getting to the big stage. It’s like the Olympics in that it’s international and everyone in the UK and EU love it.
It’s on TV, mobile devices, the radio and the internet. It’s a big ol’ deal.
5. Who was in this lovely battle for glory? Let’s take a look!
Kihwan Sim (S. Korea), Marko Mimica (Croatia), Katherine Broderick (England), Jamie Barton (USA), Yi Li (China).
Maria Celeng (Hungary), Alexey Bogdanchikov (Russia), Loriana Castellano (Italy), Luthando Qave (S. Africa), Gala El Hadidi (Egypt)
Egle Sidlauskaite (Lithuania), Yuri Gorodetski (Belarus), Olena Tokar (Ukraine), Suana Gaspar (Portugal), Gary Griffiths (Wales).
Michal Partyka (Poland), Teresa Romano (Italy), Ben Johnson (England), Jeongcheol Cha (S. Korea), Daniela Mack (Argentina).
9. There are multiple concerts during the week long competition.
For the first 4 nights, there is a concert with 5 competitors offering 4-5 pieces to sing. From each night, one person wins and advances to the finals. So it’s a competition within a competition. INCEPTION. Those winners will go on to compete in the finals over the weekend. It’s tournament style, only no flopping allowed in this jam. Sorry, soccer and basketball fans.
12. There is a side challenge called the Song Competition.
You are not required to partake in the Song Competition. The Song portion is different from the main competition due to the repertoire that is performed. Songs can be art song, lieder (German) or folk songs that are NOT from an opera. They usually show a more subtle approach to singing and language interpretation. The winner gets €5000 or $6545. Not bad for 20 minutes of singing.
13. After a series of recitals, these are the 5 finalists for the Song Prize.
Jamie Barton, Ben Johnson, Maria Celeng, Olena Tokar and Yuri Gorodetski. These kids done sang purdy.
15. Jamie, holding her Song Prize trophy.
…or is that a giant beer glass? BOTH.
16. The finals concert!
Olena Tokar, Teresa Romano, Marko Mimica, Daniela Mack and Jamie Barton were the people who won their respective concert competitions. Here they are on the final night of the competition. Each person had to present a package of 4 or so arias (songs from an opera).
17. That is A LOT of singing.
Each performer’s set was roughly 20 minutes of balls-to-the-wall singing. Try screaming for 20 minutes and see how far you get. This is some serious stuff. They can’t take a break, except for when the orchestra changes music between songs.
18. Time for some history making…
In the 30 years that competition has been in existence, there is only one competitor who won both the Song Prize and the Final Prize. (There is a 3rd prize called the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize…but voting was only accessible in the UK, so no surprise that Ben Johnson…from England won.) I should say, there WAS only one competitor because now there are two!
19. Jamie Barton, mezzo soprano from the USA WON ALL THE SINGING AWARDS.
She is incredibly talented and a star on the rise. She has already sung at some of the best opera houses in the world and is the epitome of class, peppered with wit. The United States of America should be proud that we’re putting out this kind of talent into the world.
23. That was a lot of reading.
Have a fiesta cat as a reward. And as always, GO TO THE OPERA:
Metropolitan Opera Ticket Office - 212-362-6000
New York City Opera - 212-870-5600
Lyric Opera of Chicago - 312-332-2244
San Francisco Opera - 415-864-3330
Houston Grand Opera - 713-228-6737
…or just Google a local opera house.