Cardiff Singer of the World - Round 1

And they’re off!

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Last night saw the broadcast of the first round of Cardiff Singer of the World and it was an evening of devils, divas and Puccini.

The first singer, soprano Anna Leese from New Zealand, kicked off the competition with Dvořák’s ‘Song to the Moon’ from Rusalka. There was no sign of nerves from the soprano who went on to give a moving rendition of Mimi’s aria ‘Lieta Usci’ from Puccini’s La bohème.

Next up was Armenian bass Vazgen Ghazaryan who gave the Cardiff audience a suitably menacing performance of Boito’s Mefistofele but appeared to be feeling the pressure a touch more than Leese.

But it was the third competitor, Russian mezzo-soprano Olesya Petrova, who lit up the stage with a completely show-stealing performance of Delila’s ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’ from Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila. She went on to win the round and is definitely one to watch for the final – judge Marilyn Horne certainly seemed to think so, clapping enthusiastically as Petrova took her bow.

Soprano Maria Radoeva from Bulgaria was the next to take to the stage in St David’s Hall. Radoeva chose Vivaldi’s ‘Agitata da due venti’ from La Griselda for her first aria – which was perhaps over-ambitious as she didn’t sound entirely comfortable with the demanding leaps and coloratura.

She followed this with Musetta’s waltz ‘Quando m’en vo’ from Puccini’s La bohème but only relaxed into the performance for her third piece, from Mozart’s Exsultate jubilate. There was more Mozart from Romanian baritone, Şerban Vasile who gave a charismatic account of Guglielmo’s aria ‘Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo’ from Così fan tutte.

Having won the first round Olesya Petrova isn’t necessarily guaranteed a place in the final – but is more than likely to be there come Sunday thanks to what one commentator described as 'a Rolls-Royce' of a voice.

The second round, broadcast this evening on BBC Four features singers from England, Canada and China among others and starts at 7.30pm. Round 1 is available to view on iplayer.

 

Elizabeth Davis is editorial assistant of BBC Music Magazine