Twenty-Two Singers Reach Semi-Finals Round of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition in Prague
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22 July 2019

Twenty-Two Singers Reach Semi-Finals Round of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition in Prague

News Operalia 719 

F OLLOWING TWO DAYS OF QUARTERFINALS, twenty-two singers have reached the semi-finals round of Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s prestigious opera competition, which is currently underway at Prague’s National Theatre. The semi-finals will be livestreamed on 16:00 CEST (10:00 AM EST) via Facebook.

Founded in 1993 by Domingo to launch the careers of young singers of every voice type from every country, Operalia has grown into one of the most august opera competitions on the international scene, receiving upwards of 1,000 applications each year. A jury of three judges assesses every recording sent in, and the top forty singers are invited to participate in the competition, which annually takes place in a different international host city. During the semi-finals round, singers are asked to sing one opera aria from a list of four arias that has been selected by the jury of ten opera experts that adjudicates the competition. Singers who wish to complete in the Zarzuela category are also asked to present a zarzuela aria.

Normally, around twenty participants are selected for the competition’s semi-finals round, in which they perform in an audition format accompanied by Operalia pianists. Historically, only ten singers are planned to advance to the final round of the competition, which is presented as a gala concert that features the singers accompanied by a full orchestra conducted by Domingo. 

Women competing in the semi-finals this year include: Lada Bočková, soprano, Czech Republic, 27; Adriana Gonzalez, soprano, Guatemala, 27; Maria Kataeva, mezzo-soprano, Russia, 32; Héloïse Mas, mezzo-soprano, France, 31; Felicia Moore, soprano, USA, 31; Maria Nazarova, soprano, Russia, 30; Christina Nilsson, soprano, Sweden, 29; Liv Redpath, soprano, USA, 27; Anna Shapovalova, soprano, Russia, 31; and Carolyn Sproule, mezzo-soprano, Canada, 31. 

Men who will compete in the semi-finals include: Germán Alcántara, baritone, Argentina, 31; Xabier Anduaga, tenor, Spain, 24; Mario Bahg, tenor, South Korea, 29; Piotr Buszewski, tenor, Poland, 26; Gihoon Kim, baritone, South Korea, 27; Sungho Kim, tenor, South Korea, 29; Bongani Justice Kubheka, baritone, South Africa, 28; Luvuyo Mbundu, baritone, South Africa, 26; Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor, USA/Germany, 25; Grigorii Shkarupa, bass, Russia, 29; and Robert Watson, tenor, USA, 31. 

Competing in the Zarzuela category will be: Germán Alcántara; Xabier Anduaga; Mario Bahg; Adriana Gonzalez; Maria Kataeva; Gihoon Kim; Sungho Kim; Héloïse Mas; Luvuyo Mbundu; Maria Nazarova, Liv Redpath and Mexican-Spanish tenor Mario Rojas, 25. 

Operalia awards some of the most generous prizes bestowed by any competition in the industry, including two $30,000 first prizes to a male and a female singer; two $20,000 second prizes; two $10,000 third prizes; two $15,000 Birgit Nilsson prizes to singers who perform repertoire by Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner; two $10,000 Zarzuela prizes in honor of Plácido Domingo's parents, Pepita Embil and Don Plácido Domingo Ferrer; two audience prizes of watches offered by Rolex; and a $10,000 Culturarte prize, chosen and offered by Bertita & Guillermo Martinez from CulturArte de Puerto Rico. Finalists who do not win prizes will receive a $5,000 Encouragement Award. 

Additionally, Domingo and Operalia's jurists—which include intendants, casting directors and esteemed professionals in the opera industry—often take a committed interest in the careers of singers in the competition. Operalia contestants have frequently been invited to join one of several young artist programs currently established in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Valencia, and have also been hired for performances in houses overseen by the judges. spacer 

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