Winners of Operalia competition announced

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Plácido Domingo's opera competition celebrates 20 years in Verona

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Soprano Aida Garifullina from Russia and Chinese bass-baritone Ao Li have both won first prize and $30,000 (£19,000) at this year's Operalia competition.

The finals of the world opera competition were held in Verona 19-25 August. Twelve singers competed in front of 14 jury members.

Garifullina performed an aria from Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Li sang music from Rachmaninov's opera Aleko.

French soprano Julie Fuchs and Italian baritone Simone Piazzola took joint second prize, while third prize went to soprano Kathryn Lewek and tenor Zach Borichevsky, both from the US.

Described by sponsor Placido Domingo as ‘the Olympic games for the opera’, the competition attracted entrants from around the world, who competed for the chance to be one of the 40 invited to sing in front of the panel in Verona.

The Birgit Nilsson prizes for Wagner/Strauss repertoire went to contralto British Claudio Huckle and American soprano Tracy Cox, both took home prize money of $15,000 (£10,000).

Other prizewinners included tenor Vladimir Dmitruk from Belarus, who won the Culturarte Prize and $10,000 (£6,000); American tenor Benjamin Bliss, who won the Don Plácido Domingo, Zarzuela Prize and $10,000 (£6,000); South Korean soprano Hae Ji Chang who won the Pepita Embil Domingo Zarzuela Prize of $10,000 (£6,000).

Two audience prizes of a Rolex watch went to American soprano Kathryn Lewek and Italian baritone Simone Piazzola.

The competition is set to take place next year in Los Angeles.

Josephine Franks