Bass Stephano Park and Soprano Julie Roset won first prize for best male and best female voice in the gala finale of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, presented by Rolex, at Artscape.
The world’s foremost opera competition on Sunday placed opera firmly in the hearts of South Africans of all ages, when Cape Town played host to the 30th edition of the talent search contest this past week.
Presenting hosts were the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Opera and Artscape.
Thirty-four contestants from 15 countries, who had been selected from over 800 applications, started the week with a series of preliminary rounds, singing a broad range of arias and accompanied by piano for a share of total prize money of USD200 000 (R3.6million).
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.
While Park of South Korea and Roset of France won the night’s top accolades, Yende was awarded the prestigious CulturArte Prize.
The second prize for best female voice went to mezzo-soprano Eugénie Joneau of France. Second prize for best male voice went to baritone Luke Sutliff of the US.
After the final curtain was lowered on what was an extraordinary week, Louis Heyneman, CEO of CPO, said Operalia was the biggest event the three hosts have collaborated on.
“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.”