From Development server
25 October 2005

Soprano Maria Virginia Savastano, 22, Takes First Place & €10K in 2005 "Neue Stimmen" Competition

Twenty-two year old Argentinean soprano Maria Virginia Savastano has won first prize in the 11th International "Neue Stimmen" Competition, created by Bertelsmann Stiftung, the nonprofit arm of Bertelsmann AG in Gütersloh, Germany. Savastano will receive €10,000 ($12,000) for her first place finish.

The soprano sang Don Pasquale's "Quel guardo il cavaliere" and "Quando m'en vo'" from La Bohème to convince the international jury, helmed by Gérard Mortier, director of the Opéra National de Paris, of her talents.

The competition's second prize of €7,500 went to Russian tenor Alexey Kudrya, 23, and the €6,000 third prize was given to Russian soprano Anna Aglatova, 23.

Initiated in 1987 by Liz Mohn, then deputy chairwoman of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the competition features twenty-one preliminary rounds, which were held from May until September of this year in countries including Berlin, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Cape Town, London, Moscow, Munich, New York, Beijing, Sydney and Yokosuka, Japan. About 1,200 singers from sixty countries entered the competition in 2005, with forty-three singers from nineteen countries making it to the final round.

The singers were reportedly evaluated according to four criteria: technique, musical presentation, voice quality, and stage presence.

In addition to Mortier, members of the jury included Kammersänger Francisco Araiza, professor at the College of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart; Brian Dickie, deneral director of the Chicago Opera Theater, Anthony Freud, general director of the Welsh National Opera; Kammersänger Siegfried Jerusalem, director of the College of Music Nuremberg-Augsburg; Jürgen Kesting, music critic and author; Gustav Kuhn, President of the Tyrolean Festival Erl and Director of the "Accademia di Montegral"; Bernd Loebe, general director of the Opera Frankfurt; Kammersängerin Edith Mathis, professor at the College of Music and Performing Arts Vienna; as well as concert singer Edith Wiens, professor at the College of Music Nuremberg-Augsburg and at the College of Music and Theatre Munich.

More information can be found at www.neue-stimmen.de and www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de

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