The elegant 32-year-old soprano delighted the packed St David’s Hall, Cardiff audience with a stunning programme that brought the week of competition to a thrilling close.
The decision of the panel of international judges was announced by John Fisher, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Welsh National Opera. Ekaterina was then presented with her Welsh crystal trophy and £15,000 prize by the Competition’s Patron Dame Joan Sutherland.
The elegant and graceful singer said at the end of the exhilarating and hotly contested competition, organised by BBC Cymru Wales, Ekaterina said, “This is the happiest day of my life”.
The concert hall audience included opera casting agents, opera house directors and music lovers from around the world – and the other Competition contestants who hung on every note of their fellow young singers.
Ekaterina was the last singer of the evening that had opened with a sparkling performance from young Japanese soprano Eri Nakamura from Japan that set the standard.
That was followed by the youngest competitor, tenor Giordano Luc‡, aged 21, from Italy, who only won his place in the final in the Competition’s last concert round on Thursday, with a programme of Italian arias.
Bass Jan MartinÌk, aged 26, from the Czech Republic who on Friday night had won the Song Prize which runs in parallel with last night’s operatic competition gave a performance of dramatic arias that was full of character. Both competitions are organised by BBC Cymru Wales.
The only counter-tenor in the Competition, 30-year-old Ukrainian Yuriy Mynenko gave a masterly performance that ranged from Handel to Rossini and delighted the audience.
Ekaterina then appeared and charmed the audience with an elegant and sophisticated performance in French and Italian and closing in English with Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust announced the winner of the Audience Prize, worth £2,000, which is chosen by a public telephone vote and supported by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, was Italian tenor Giordano Luc‡.
In the concert rounds the singers sang with either the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Lawrence Foster or the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera conducted by Lawrence Foster. In the final BBC NOW was conducted by whichever of the two conductors had worked with their concert round.
The 25 singers taking part in this year’s Competition represented nations as far afield as Chile and Russia, Australia and Italy and were selected from more than 600 singers from around the world who took part in auditions in 44 locations in more than 30 countries for the biennial competition.
This year all singers are also be eligible to benefit from a new bursary to help towards the development of their musical careers. A follower of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, Annie Sankey, has left the competition a bequest and a new bursary in her name to support singers who take part in the competition has been established. Menna Richards, Director BBC Cymru Wales said, “The bursaries will help support the studies of competitors, including helping with travel and the purchase of musical scores”.
product_title=Russian Soprano Wins BBC Cardiff Singer of the World
product_by=Above: Ekaterina Shcherbachenko