Cape Town - Bass Stephano Park and Soprano Julie Roset won first prize for the best male and the best female voice at the gala finale of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, presented by Rolex, in Cape Town on Sunday at Artscape.
The world’s foremost opera competition that took place at Artscape has placed opera firmly in the hearts of South Africans of all ages when Cape Town played host to the 30th edition of this extraordinary talent search contest this past week.
Presenting hosts Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Opera and Artscape pulled off the biggest such event in South Africa with aplomb.
After the final curtain was lowered on what has been an extraordinary week, Louis Heyneman, CEO of CPO, said: “Operalia was the biggest event we three hosts have collaborated on and I think we can say that it was a triumph.”
Thirty-four contestants from 15 different countries, who had been selected from more than 800 applications, started the week in Cape Town with a series of preliminary rounds, singing a broad range of arias and accompanied by piano for a share of total prize money of $200 000 (about R3.6 million).
The final 12, including South Africans soprano Nombulelo Yende and mezzo-soprano Siphokazi Molteno, sang with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra to a packed Artscape Opera House, conducted by Maestro Domingo himself and assisted by guest conductor Kamal Khan. Domingo also presided over the 10-person jury.
The complete prizewinners list:
First Prize for Female Voice winning $30 000 went to Julie Roset, soprano, from France, and for Male Voice it was Stephano Park, bass, from South Korea.
Second Prize for Female Voice winning $20 000 was Eugénie Joneau, mezzo-soprano, from France, and for Male Voice it was Luke Sutliff, baritone, from the US.
Third Prize for Female Voice winning $10 000 was Elena Villalón, soprano, from the US, and for Male Voice it was Navasard Hakobyan, baritone, from Armenia.
Nombulelo Yende, soprano, from South Africa won the CulturArte Prize, winning $10 000, offered by Guillermo and Bertita Martínez.
The remaining finalists received an Encouragement Award of $5 000.
Summing up what has been an exceptional experience for all involved, Heyneman remarked: “Everyone in this competition are winners. Hearing such talent at the beginning of their careers and being part of these young singers’ journey is always exciting, and Operalia was no exception.
“We are, of course, particularly proud, and happy that we had two South African finalists. This shows that some of the best voices in the new generation of opera singers come from this southern tip of Africa, which is seen as a nursery for rising voices and musicians.”
“I would also like to recognise the executive mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, for his and the City’s support of Operalia, and all the other sponsors.
“Thank you for making this past week the success it was, which reinforces just why Cape Town has become known the world over, as the city of great events.”