Catriona Morison has won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, becoming the first British person ever to do so in the competition’s history. At the final at St David’s Hall, the Scottish mezzo won over the judges with her performance of ‘Dido’s Lament’ from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, winning her the Cardiff Trophy and £15,000.
Morison was also joint winner of the Song Prize, which she shared with the Mongolian baritone Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar, while the English soprano Louise Alder was voted winner of the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize.
A week of competition saw 20 singers whittled down to just five for the final. Morison herself had, in fact, been given a wildcard for the final by the judges having not won any of the previous rounds. As well as Morison, Alder and Ganbaatar, the other two finalists were Australian tenor and American baritone Anthony Clark Evans.
In an evening dominated by Romantic repertoire, Morison’s Baroque aria offered something a little different for the judging panel of Welsh National Opera director David Pountney, mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry, soprano Sumi Jo, baritone Wolfgang Holzmair and conductor Anu Tali to consider.
Morison is the 18th winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. The first, in 1983, was Finnish soprano Karrita Mattila, and others since then have included Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1989) and German soprano Anja Harteros (1999). Since the competition’s inception, sopranos have won it on nine occasions, mezzo-sopranos and baritones four times apiece, and tenors just the once.