Russian soprano Ekaterina Shcherbachenko is this year’s winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2009.
A member of Moscow’s Bolshoi opera company, the 32-year-old has previously competed in several other competitions, but the Cardiff is the first in which she has won the top prize, on this occasion the Welsh crystal trophy and £15,000, presented by the competition’s patron Dame Joan Sutherland.
For last night’s Cardiff final Shcherbachenko sang the Jewel Aria from Gounod’s Faust, ‘Signore, ascolta!’ from Puccini’s Turandot, and – very bravely – sang an extensive English language aria, ‘No word from Tom’, from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Asked by BBC Music about her choice of repertoire, and of Stravinsky in particular, she responded with a touch of wry self-deprecation: ‘Yeah. It was a challenge for me! It was probably too great for me – to sing in English before an English-speaking audience!’
The judging panel, which included soprano Gwyneth Jones, mezzo-soprano Ann Murray, tenor Giacomo Aragall, bass Kurt Moll, and conductor Richard Bonynge, clearly thought differently. So did conductor Lawrence Foster, who coached Shcherbachenko in the Stravinsky and conducted the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for her final: ‘She picks things up very quickly,’ he told BBC Music, ‘she’s very musical, a great communicator, and she’s got a great sense of humour. I can see her becoming the new Renée Fleming.’
The other winner of the evening was 21-year-old Italian tenor Giordano Lucà, awarded the Audience Prize. The other finalists were Czech bass Jan Martiník, who had won the Song Prize final on Friday; Japanese soprano Eri Nakamura; and Ukrainian countertenor Yuriy Mynenko.
Image: Brian Tarr