The 20 finalists in this year’s BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition were announced today (Tuesday 24 February) in London.
Singers from Wales, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Norway, Switzerland, the US, Canada, South Korea, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Mongolia and South Africa will all compete for the prestigious title of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2015. Scroll down for more information about each of this year’s finalists.
Across the eight-day event, which will begin on 14 June, every singer will perform their own programmes of both operatic and concert works with accompaniment from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera.
2015 sees David Jackson’s first year as artistic director of the competition, which was founded in 1983 to identify and launch the classical singers of the future.
Speaking about this year’s candidates, Jackson says, ‘Our final 20 are an exciting range of voice types, and an amazing array of talent. They come from all over the world, with a diverse range of backgrounds and experience. It really is a privilege to be involved in this great event, in its 32nd year.’
The search for the talented 20 began last year, when almost 350 opera and concert singers entered the competition. It was down to three judges – head of opera at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Angela Livingstone, casting director Isabel Murphy and producer Jeremy Caulton – to travel to eight different cities to discover this year’s finalists. Caulton says they were looking for ‘that indefinable something which makes ones sit up and pay attention in a different sort of way.’
The winner of the main prize will receive £15,000 and will be chosen by a panel that includes artistic director of Welsh National Opera David Pountney, music director of The Norwegian Opera & Ballet John Fiore and American soprano Claron McFadden. The Song Prize winner will receive £5,000. Both winners will also receive trophies. Previous winners include Jamie Barton Pine (2013, pictured above) and Valentina Naforniţă (2011).
BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2015 finalists
Marina Pinchuk, mezzo-soprano (Belarus)
Pinchuk studied at the Rimsky-Korsakov St Petersburg State Conservatory. She made her debut as Olga (Eugene Onegin) with the Mikhailovsky Theatre Company. She won third prize at the Anita Cerquetti International Voice Competition in Italy in 2011.
Nadine Koutcher, soprano (Belarus)
Koutcher studied at the Minsk State Musical College and the St Petersberg Conservatory. In 2009, she made her debut at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg as Violetta (La Traviata). She sang Dona Isabel in The Indian Queen in a production by Perm Opera, Teatro Real and ENO in 2013.
Aviva Fortunata, soprano (Canada)
Fortunata studied at the University of Toronto. She is currently a member of the Ensemble Studio at the Canadian Opera Company. Recently, she has played Berta in The Barber of Seville.
Anaïs Constans, soprano (France)
Constans studied at the conservatoire in Toulouse and the Centre Nationale d’Artistes Lyriques in Marseille. She won first prize and youth prize at the 2013 Macon International Singing Competition. Recent engagments include Musetta in La Boheme at the Gattieres Festival.
Sebastian Pilgrim, bass (Germany)
Pilgrim studied in Detmold and Hannover with Sabine Ritterbusch and Alessandra Althoff-Pugliese. His opera debut was as Sir John Falstaff in the International Young Opera Schloss Weikersheim production of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 2009. He has also given several world premieres of new compositions.
Roberto Lorenzi, bass-baritone (Italy)
Lorenzi studied at the Luigi Boccherini Institute of Musical Studies. He is currently a member of the Zurich International Opera Studio. Next season, he will join the ensemble of the Zurich Opera, and will debut as Priore (La Straniera).
Nico Darmanin, tenor (Malta)
Darmanin studied in London at the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio. He is the first representative from Malta in the history of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. Engagments include Danieli in Les Vepres Siciliennes at the Royal Opera House.
Amartuvshin Enkhbat, baritone (Mongolia)
Enkhbaht studied at the State University of Arts and Culture, Ulan Bator. He is the first representative from Mongolia in the history of the competition. He is the Principal Soloist of the State Academic Opera House of Mongolia, where his roles have included Morales in Carmen.
Ingeborg Gillebo, mezzo-soprano (Norway)
Gillebo studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music and at the Opera Academy in Copenhagen. She made her Royal Danish Opera debut as Margret in Wozzeck in 2010. In 2011, she won second prize in the Queen Sonja International Singing Competition.
Regula Mühlemann, soprano (Switzerland)
Muhlemann studied at the conservatory in Lucerne. She has featured in two films, with roles in both Hunter’s Bridge and Orfeo. This season she makes her debut at De Nederlandse Opera.
Kelebogile Besong, soprano (South Africa)
Besong studied singing at Tshwane College. She was named Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business & Government (Arts) in 2013. In the 2014/15 season, Kelebogile makes her debut as the title role of Aida with the Malmo Opera.
Insu Hwang, bass-baritone (South Korea)
Insu Hwang studied in Germany at the Hochschule fur Musik, Karlsruhe and is currently studying at the Hochschule fur Musik, Demold with Susan Anthony. In 2013, he won the Mozart Special Prize and third prize at the Veronica Dunne International singing competition. He is currently a member of the young artist programme at the Landestheater Detmold.
Jaeyoon Jung, tenor (South Korea)
Jaeyoon Jung studied at the Teatro alla Scala Academy of Lyric Opera and the Conservatorio di musica Giuseppe Verdi. In 2014, he won first prize in both Giacinto Prandelli in Brescia and Giulietta Simionato. Concert work includes Beethoven’s C major Mass in Teatro cominale di Firenze in 2012.
Jongmin Park, bass (South Korea)
Jongmin Park studied singing at the Korea National University of Arts. Between 2010-13, he was a member of the ensemble at the Hamburg State Opera. Concert work includes Beethoven;s Ninth Symphony with the LSO.
Ilker Arcayurek, tenor (Turkey)
Arcayurek was a member of the International Opera Studio at Zurich Opera between 2010-2013. He won third prize at the Hugo Wolf Competion in 2012. In 2015, he will join the Staatstheater Nurnberg.
Oleksiy Palchykov, tenor (Ukraine)
Palchykov studied at the National Musical Tchaikovsky Academy. In 2008, he mad his debut with the National Shevchenko Opera Theatre, singing Triquet/Lensky in Eugene Onegin. In 2014, he appeared in Mozart’s Requiem in Notre-Dame de Paris.
J’nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano (US)
Bridges studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music. Her prizes include the 2012 Marian Anderson Award. She is a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center where her performances have included Inez (Il Trovatore).
Lauren Michelle, soprano (US)
Michelle studied at The Julliard School and UCLA. She recently made her Carnegie Hall debutin The Road of Promise. She took third place in the Gulf Coast Regional Final of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Ryan Speedo Green, bass-baritone (US)
Green studied at Florida State University and the Hartt School of Music. He joined the Wiener Staatsoper ensemble where roles have included King in Aida. He was the National Grand Finals winner of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards.
Celine Forrest, soprano (Wales)
Forrest won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where she is currently finishing her advanced diploma. She recently performed the title role in Suor Angelica for the Royal Academy Opera. Concert works include Mozart’s Requiem as well as a concert at the British Embassy in Madrid in 2014.
Visit bbc.co.uk/cardiffsinger to find out more
Photo: Brian Tarr