Cardiff Singer of the World: a taster of Round One
A spoiler-free preview of the first round of this year's BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, with singers from England, South Korea, America, Croatia and China…
This year's edition of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World kicked off last night with an evening of show-stopping arias, dizzying coloratura and teeth-grinding mad scenes.
First to take to the stage was Kihwan Sim, a bass from South Korea who chose Figaro's aria 'Non più andrai' from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro to open proceedings, before moving on to a piece from Bizet's little-known work La jolie fille de Perth. A performer of great wit who captured the heart break of the Bizet aria, which is sung by a young man trying to drink away the pain of unrequited love.
Next up was Britain's own Katherine Broderick, a soprano, who opened with a searing rendition of 'O Sachs! Mein Freund' from Wagner's Die Meistersinger (see above) before devoting the rest of her slot to the deeply challenging Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin - and she carried it off with aplomb. One audience member told me afterwards that she had goose pimples along her legs listening to it.
Yi Li from China put together a colossus of a programme of Mozart, Donizetti, Cilea and Massenet. And despite some trouble in the Donizetti aria 'Ah! Mes Amis' from La fille du régiment, an aria from Cilea's L'arlesiana drew the audience in to another young man's story of heart break.
The penultimate performer of this First Round was the American mezzo Jamie Barton, with an imaginative programme of three works: an aria from Ponchielli's La Gioconda, 'Sabbath Morning at Sea' from Elgar's Sea Pictures and a dramatic scene from Donizetti's La Favorite. This latter was a real show-stopper and went down a treat with the Cardiff audience. But it was her Elgar I particularly enjoyed - an affecting performance of a beautiful piece.
The final slot of the First Round went to the Croatian bass-baritone Marko Mimica who opened with an extract from Handel's Messiah - a real contast to the barn-storming Donizetti we'd just heard and brought the evening to a close with scenes from Verdi's Nabucco and Rossini Semiramide.
And then, it was up to the judges to decide who won this round... But as so many of you will be watching the round on this evening's BBC Four broadcast, we'll keep the winner under our hats. And let us know if you agree...