Participants 2015: Talents from around the world

Photos: Besam Mazhiqi

During auditions at 26 places world wide, 42 singers – 20 female and 22 male from 30 nations – have qualified to participate in this year’s final round of the competition in October in Germany. Here you can take a look at the participant’s curriculum vitae.

Miriam Albano (2nd Prize), Mezzo Soprano, born in 1991 in Italy, initially studied the violin at the Conservatorio de Musica Benedetto Marcello in Venice, before beginning her degree in vocal performance at the age of 16. She graduated with honors in 2011 and has since continued her education at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. She made her 2013 debut there as Cherubino at the Schlosstheater Schönbrunn. The young singer had performed at the Teatro Malibran in Venice prior to this and performed the Wesendonck Lieder at the Festival Galuppi. In August 2014 Miriam sang the part of Sidonie in Armide during the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music and she sang at the Radio Kultur Haus Vienna Les Nuit d’été of Hector Berlioz under the conduction of Leopold Hagar. The mezzo-soprano has won prizes at several international singing competitions, including the Ferruccio Tagliavini contest in Austria, and the Pietro Antonio Cesti contest in Innsbruck.

Leonor Amaral (Semifinal), Coloratura Soprano, born in 1987 in Portugal, is currently studying Konzertexamen Gesang (solo vocal performance) at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf. Born in Lisbon, she began her education in vocal performance at the music academy there alongside studying for a bachelor’s degree in management. After receiving a degree in management Leonor went on to study in Cologne under Christoph Prégardien. She completed a bachelor’s degree in music in Düsseldorf in 2013 and master’s degree in music in Lübeck in 2014. While studying for her master’s she performed in the 2013/14 season of the International Opera Elite Studio at the Theater Lübeck, where she debuted in roles including Mi in Land des Lächelns and Gretchen in Der Wildschütz. She gained yet more experience on stage as Clorinda in Tancredi e Cloringa, Dido in Dido and Aeneas and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. Leonor has repeatedly been crowned winner of the “Jugend musiziert” music competition and is a beneficiary of the Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now Köln organization.

In 2015, Joel Annmo, Tenor, born in 1987 in Sweden, appeared on stage as Sebas in the Theater Augsburg and as Ferrando in the Stålboga Paviljong music pavilion in Sweden. By the age of six the Stockholm-born lyric tenor was already learning the violin and by 14 he had taken up singing lessons. After graduating from high school he began his musical education at the Falun Conservatory of Music, receiving his bachelor’s degree at the University College of Opera Stockholm. Joel continued his studies in 2011 at the private Vocal Arts (DYVA) singing academy in Nuremberg. The young tenor has received many awards and scholarships, including the Luciano Pavarotti award for best male voice at the Gian Battista Viotti, the international music competition held in Vercelli. Joel has gained a great deal of on-stage experience since 2007, including in the roles of Nemorino, Ferrando, Pelléas, Canio, Tamino and Lensky.

Mariia Bochmanova (Special Prize), Lyric Soprano, born in 1987 in Russia, is a graduate of both the Glinka State Conservatory in Novosibirsk and the Rimsky Korsakov State Conservatory in St. Petersburg. She was awarded first place in the 2012 Bibigual Tolegenova international singing competition in Kazakhstan. Mariia has been a member of the ensemble at the State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vladivostok since the 2013/14 season. She played Tsarevna Swan-Bird there in Rimski-Korkakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan, and performed the role of Tatyana in Eugen Onegin at the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre in Yekaterinburg. Her further on-stage experience includes the roles of Violetta in La Traviata, Musetta in La Bohème and Micaëla in Carmen. In the summer of 2015, Mariia guest-starred as Brigitta in Iolanta at the Aix-en-Provence music festival. She will sing this part again at the Opéra National de Lyon in early 2016.

Dashuai Chen (Special Prize), Tenor, was born in 1990 in Tai‘an, a town with five and a half million inhabitants, located just 500km south of Peking in the Chinese province of Shandong. The Chinese tenor began his musical education at the age of 18. He studied under Ping Gu at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and has already won several awards at national singing competitions. He harbors a passion for the operas of Puccini, in particular for La Bohème, whose main character of Rodolfo is his dream role. Dashuai Chen is also a dedicated swimmer, but music is his true lifelong aspiration. His ultimate goal is to be an opera singer and tutor of vocal performance.

Chen Yibao, Lyric Soprano, born in 1990 in China, comes from Henan, a province in eastern central China, which is not only one of the most populous provinces in China but also the region from which the Chinese culture and nation are said to originate. The lyric soprano currently lives in Beijing, where she studied at the Central Conservatory of Music from 2007 to 2015. In 2014, she took the opportunity to study at the Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia in Rome. She celebrated her debut there as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She had already gained some experience on stage prior to this, starring as Belinda in Dido and Aeneas in 2010, and as Frasquita in Carmen in 2013. The young singer has already taken part in numerous European singing competitions. In 2014, she won the young talent prize at the International Vocal Competition ’s-Hertogenbosch of the province Nord-Brabant.

The Basel-based Bolivian Bass Jose Coca Loza, born in 1989, completed his bachelor’s degree at the School of Music in Basel this summer. From 2010 to 2012 he studied at the University of Arizona in the U.S. He was able to gain extensive on-stage experience there, performing in such roles as Mr. Koffner in Menotti’s Consul, Bottom in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto. In 2012 he won the “Quest for the best” competition in Arizona. After moving to Switzerland, the young bass played as Sparafucile in the Tonhalle Zürich and Collatinus at the Theater Basel. He has also developed an extensive concert repertoire, taking on parts in many of Bach’s cantatas, Verdi’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

Anna Dowsley, Mezzo Soprano, born in 1987 in Australia, is a member of the Young Artist Program at Opera Australia in Sydney. This season she has performed as Siebel, Cherubino and Tebaldo. During her last year of study at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the mezzo-soprano won numerous prizes in national singing competitions, making it possible for her to continue her studies in the International Vocal Arts Institute Virginia and at the Siena Music Festival in Europe. Following a personal invitation from Renata Scotto to go to the Opera Studio at the Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia in Rome, she took part in the Young Artist Program back in Australia and has since taken on many different roles. In Tokyo she appeared as Dorabella in Così fan tutte. Aside from opera, Anna enjoys performing oratorios.

Elsa Dreisig (1st Prize & Audience Award), Soprano, born in 1991 in France, is a beneficiary of the Liz Mohn Culture and Music Foundation at the Staatsoper Berlin’s International Opera Studio and a member of the Opéra-Théâtre de Clermont-Ferrand. The soprano trained at an early age with the children and youth choirs of the Wallonie and Lyon opera houses, and more recently studied at the Paris Conservatory and the University of Music and Theater in Leipzig. In 2012 she was crowned winner of the “Des Mots et des Notes” singing competition in Paris, and in 2014 she came first in the “Ton und Erklärung” contest. Elsa is a member of the Ensemble 101 contemporary music society and also sings in her family ensemble, 4D (4 Dreisig). In 2014 she performed in Leipzig as Nanette in Der Wildschütz, studied at the Schubert-Académie in Aix-en-Provence under Matthias Goerne and Markus Hinterhäuser, and took part in the “Neue Stimmen” Lied Master Class. In 2015 she won second prize in the Queen Sonja international music competition in Norway. Elsa can often be found performing at song recitals and concerts.

Adriana Ferfecka (Semifinal), Soprano, born in 1992 in Poland, is currently enrolled at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. As a beneficiary of Walter Sandvoss, during the 2015/16 season at the Deutsche Oper Berlin she will play in Aida, Nabucco, Die Zauberflöte and Turandot as well as numerous other productions. The young soprano was the winner of several singing competitions in 2014, including the Ferruccio Tagliavini, Le Grand Prix de l’Opéra, Ottavio Ziino and DEBUT. In 2011, she received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. More recently, the 23-year-old sang the part of Rosina in Der Barbier von Sevilla für Kinder as a participant in the Young Singers Project at the 2015 Salzburg Festival. Before this she took the main role in Suor Angelica at the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcy and at the Warsaw Chamber Opera, where she also performed for the world premiere of Marcin Piotr Lopacki.

In 2013, Rafael Fingerlos, (Semifinal), Baritone, born in 1986 in Austria, graduated with honors from his master’s program in solo vocal performance at the private Conservatory of Vienna. In the same year he was an award winner at the Brahms singing competition and came in first in the “Musica Juventutis” auditions at the Wiener Konzerthaus in Vienna. He also received first prize as well as the public’s choice prize at the international Franz Schubert Lied Competition held in Steyr. When not performing opera, Rafael has an interest in singing Lieder; in 2015 he gave a song recital alongside Angelika Kirchschlager, and also starred in Die schöne Müllerin at EXPO Milano 2015. His recently released solo CD features romantic German Lieder, and his recordings of Bach’s cantatas are set to be released in 2016.As a participant in the Young Singers Project at the 2015 Salzburg Festival, Rafael sang the part of Figaro in Der Barbier von Sevilla für Kinder. In the coming festival season he will be stepping into the roles of Harlekin at the Nederlandse Reisopera Enschede and of Morales at the Bregenz Festival.

In 2015 Signe Ravn Heiberg (Semifinal), Syric Soprano, born in 1988 in Denmark, completed her degree in vocal performance under Carolyn James at the Hamburg University of Music and Theater. The Dane had already obtained a bachelor’s degree in classical singing from the Royal Danish Academy of Music in her hometown of Copenhagen. While she was a university student in Hamburg she appeared on stage as Hannah Glawari in Die lustige Witwe, and at the Schlossoper Haldenstein in Switzerland she took on the role of Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. The soprano has an incredible ability to stand out at singing competitions, leading her to win the people’s choice prize at the 2013 Maritim Musikpreis competition, held at Timmendorf Beach, and a special prize at the 2014 Éva Marton Singing Competition in Hungary.

Juhye Kim, Soprano, was born in 1987 in Daegu, South Korea, the fourth biggest city in the country. From 2006 to 2010 she studied for her bachelor’s degree at the Seoul National University College of Music, where she graduated with honors. She subsequently participated in the USC Thorton School of Music Opera Program, where she made her debut as Pamina, after which she returned to Seoul to study for her master’s degree. She celebrated her first success there on the stage of the City Opera, appearing as Violette in La Traviata and as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Juhye Kim has won prizes at a number of singing competitions, including the Annual Young Artists Competition of the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra. On top of that, she had the privilege of singing at the USC Global Conference in Hong Kong.

The 21-year-old baritone Jung Rae Kim (Special Prize), born in 1984 in South Corea, studied vocal performance at the National University College of Music in his hometown of Seoul. He was most notably taught by Kwang Chul Youn, an internationally renowned bass who has been a professor there since 2010. He first discovered classical music at the age of 17 and immediately began taking singing lessons. Just four years later he celebrated his first triumph as a prize winner at the 2015 international Francisco Viñas Singing Competition in Spain.

Lyric baritone Carlos López, born in 1986 in Mexico, began studying vocal performance at the age of 15. He has been studying since 2008 at the Universidad de Guadalajara in his native Mexico. After obtaining his first degree in 2012, he is now working towards his bachelor’s degree in music. He is currently a member of the Mexico City-based Estudio de Opera de Bellas Artes Opera Studio, where he is gaining valuable on-stage experience. He has already appeared on stage at the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara as Don Giovanni, Belcore and Marcello. He has also made a name for himself in national singing competitions. He was a prize winner at the Ópera de San Miguel competition in both 2012 and 2014, and took second place in the Concurso Internacional de Canto Sinaloa in 2013.

Alejandro López Hernández, Bass, born in 1988 in Mexico, studied from 2006 to 2011 at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música de México in Mexico City, before switching to study at the Sociedad Internacional del Valores del Arte Mexicano, where he obtained his degree in 2013. Since then he has regularly appeared in concerts and opera productions at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico’s most important cultural institution. While there, he performed as Dottore Grenvil in La Traviata, as the High Priest in Nabucco, and as Timur in Turandot. His repertoire also includes the roles of Rocco in Fidelio, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro. He won the “Best Interpretation” prize at the 2012 Carlo Morelli competition in Mexico. Alejandro is a beneficiary of the Placido Domingo scholarship.

Lukhanyo Moyake (3rd Prize), Tenor, born in 1986 in South Africa, is currently working at the Cape Town Opera Company, South Africa. He has been performing at this opera house since his graduation in 2011, stepping into a multitude of roles including Alfredo in La Traviata, Jaquino in Fidelio and Belmote in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. With the Cape Town Opera production of Porgy and Bess, Lukhanyo spent the 2014/15 season touring in Spain, singing the part of Sportin’ Life at both the Teatro Real de Madrid and the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona. In the summer of 2015 he made it to the final round of the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition, held in Amsterdam. Alongside his career in opera, the tenor holds regular concerts, performing Lieder and oratorios.

Emiri Nakagawa, Lyric Soprano, born in 1990 in Japan, had already learned to play her first instrument by the age of two, and at the age of 15 she decided to take up singing lessons. The soprano was born in Kumamoto, the southernmost city on the Japanese island of Kyushu, and moved to Tokyo in 2009 to study at the University of the Arts. One of her tutors there was the baritone Katsunori Kouno. In 2013, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music, the young soprano gave her debut performance as Susanne in Le nozze di Figaro at the Yamagata Terrsa Hall. Over the past two years, Emiri has been taking private singing lessons.

Mezzo-soprano Bongiwe Nakani (3rd Prize), born in 1989 in South Africa, is currently in the first year of her postgraduate degree at the University of Cape Town. She regularly appears on stage in cooperative productions with the Cape Town Opera in roles such as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia and, in the near future, Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda. Bongiwe grew up in Cape Town’s district of Khayelitsha, a township which is notorious for unemployment, HIV/AIDS and a high crime rate. The young singer fought to realize her dream and is now a famous opera talent in her homeland. In 2012, she had the incredible opportunity of singing at Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday celebrations, appearing in front of international leaders of countries and governments at the UN National Assembly in New York. Bongiwe has been awarded several times with The Schock Foundation Prize for Singing.

Kseniia Nikolaieva, Mezzo Soprano was born in 1991 in Alma-Ata, today known as Almaty, the biggest city in Kazakhstan. It was here that she had her first musical instrument lesson at the age of five. Today the mezzo-soprano lives in Ukraine, where she had her first singing lesson at the age of 14. Kseniia has been studying since 2008, but she will soon graduate from the Peter Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine, in Kiev, with a master’s degree. Olga Bezsmertna, winner of the 2011 “Neue Stimmen” contest, is also a graduate of the University of music, the country’s biggest with 2,200 students.

As of September 2015, Thobela Nsthanyana (Semifinal), Tenor, born in 1989 in South Africa, is studying at the Royal College of Music in London. He aims to obtain a master’s degree in performance. In April/May of the same year, the young tenor appeared on the stage of the Cape Town Opera as Alfredo in La Traviata. Here, in the town where he grew up, he gained experience in the roles of Parpignol in La Bohème, an officer in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Zefirino in Il viaggio a Reims. He also performed as the soloist in Mozart’s compositions, Krönungsmesse and Spatzenmesse. In the University of Cape Town’s 2014 contest, The Schock Foundation Prize for Singing, he was awarded with first prize. When not singing opera or oratorios, Thobela Ntschanya has a keen interest in Neapolitan canzones and zarzuelas.

Igor Onishchenko (Semifinal), Baritone, born in 1993 in Ukraine, will complete his studies at The Odessa National A. V. Nezhdanova Academy of Music in 2016. Since beginning there in 2012, the young baritone has appeared many times on the stage of the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of his hometown Odessa. His roles include Robert in Iolanta and Crown in Porgy and Bess. Igor took part in 2014 in the first Minsk International Christmas Singing Competition in Belarus. During the 2015/16 season, he will sing with the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse in France, where he will take on the part of Le Comte Ceprano in Rigoletto.

In the coming season, Luka Ortar, Bass, born in 1985 in Slovenia, is to appear on the stage of the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka, as Le Comte de Vaudemont in Les vêpres siciliennes. He made his debut there last year as Leporello in Don Giovanni. The Slovak, from Ljubljana, is currently in his fifth and final year of his studies at the Zagreb Academy of Music. He will graduate with a master’s degree in vocal performance. Since 2006, he has been a regular prize winner of the TEMSIG Slovenian Music Competition for Youth, and he more recently was crowned winner of the International Singing Competition Lav Mirski held in Osijek, Croatia. Luka, who enjoys spending time with his horses during his free time, has also played the trumpet in small orchestras for many years.

Keeping in step with his Croatian origins, David Ostrek, Bass-Baritone, born in 1992, initially learned to play the Tamburizza, one of the most popular and characteristic stringed instruments when it comes to southern Slavic folk music. He soon picked up electric and bass guitar. As his studies shifted focus onto vocal performance, he incorporated Croatian folk music into his repertoire of opera and Lieder. When he plays guitar himself, he also enjoys singing a mix of jazz, rock and pop ballads. Alongside his studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, David composes his own music. The young singer refined his talent through numerous master classes, and he has won several prizes at a competition level. During the 2015/16 season David will sing the part of Caronte in Orlando Paladino at the Vienna Chamber Opera, before appearing as Don Giovanni on the stage of the Schlosstheater Schönbrunn.

Georgios Papadimitriou, Bass-Baritone, born in 1986 in Thessaloniki, Greece, is currently studying at the University of Music Würzburg under Cheryl Studer. He began his education at the Athens Conservatory, where he obtained his first degree. He began a two-year program in 2011 at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music in New York, graduating in 2013 with a master’s degree in music. During this time he also took part in the Emerging Artist Program run by the Opera Experience Southeast. The bass-baritone gained further on-stage experience as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, as Colline in La Bohème with the Regina Opera Company, and as Dottore Grenvil in La Traviata. But Georgios Papadimitriou is a man of many talents. Georgios, who began playing piano at the age of six, has also proven his talent for on-stage comedy in musicals.

Darren Pene Pati (2nd Prize), Tenor, born in 1987 in Samoa, grew up in New Zealand and began his singing studies at the University of Auckland. In 2012 he earned a master’s degree in music from the Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff. Pene is also a graduate of the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera. He has been recognized as an emerging talent and has won numerous prizes in singing competitions. In summer 2015 he was awarded second prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia competition and in 2014 he won the Monserrat Caballé International Singing Competition. He also won the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award in 2012. Together with his brother Amitai and his cousin Moses Mackay, he is part of Sol3Mio, which performs a mixture of classical repertoire pieces and Samoan pop songs.

Luthando Qave (Special Prize), Lyric Baritone, born in 1986 in South Africa, is part of the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. He will be performing there during the 2015/2016 season in the roles of Dancairo, Guglielmo, and Count Almaviva. The baritone has already performed a variety of roles including Jake, Marcello and Leporello at opera houses around the world, including the Met in New York, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, and the Cape Town Opera. He was born in South Africa and his first stage appearance was as a soloist and chorus singer at the Cape Town Opera. After studying at the Stockholm University College of Opera, he joined the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and made his debut at the Met as Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. Luthando was a semifinalist in the 2009 “Neue Stimmen” competition, and in 2013 he was a finalist in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Kevin Ray, Tenor, born in 1985 in the United States, will be making his debut as Florestan in Fidelio in March 2016 on the stage of the Opera Lyra in Ottawa. He previously spent two years as a member of the ensemble at the Houston Grand Opera Studio. In this time he gained stage experience playing roles such as Rodrigo, Gabriel von Eisenstein, and the First Priest. During the same period, he appeared at various opera houses as the title role in Peter Grimes and as Don José in Carmen. But the tenor also performs concerts as well as in operas. For example, he performed the solo sections of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 as well as Verdi’s Requiem, and in the upcoming season he will be singing these parts with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. Kevin received his training at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, as well as during his participation in the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program.

Erik Rousi, Bass, born in 1987 in Finland, started his studies at the Conservatory in his home town of Turku, Finland. Since 2013 he has continued his studies at the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and hopes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in music in summer 2016. His training has been complemented by numerous master class courses. He has gained stage experience in student productions, playing roles such as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. Alongside opera, he also performs oratorios and Lieder. In the autumn of 2015 he will be singing Schubert’s Winterreise during numerous concerts in Finland. Erik’s role model is the Finnish bass Martti Talvela, who regularly performed in Bayreuth.

Clara Corinna Scheurle (Semifinal), Mezzo Soprano, born in 1991 in Germany, completed her bachelor’s degree in music at the Berlin University of the Arts this summer. Having grown up in Austria, the young mezzo-soprano has already been awarded first place multiple times in the Austrian and German “Jugend musiziert” competitions. She made her debut on stage in 2014 as part of a baroque opera project at the Potsdam University of the Arts, playing Fiorello. One year later she also gained stage experience in the role of Dorina in Fra i due Litiganti il terzo gode (Giuseppe Sarti). Master class courses with Kurt Widmer, Klesie Kelly-Moog and Enrico Facini have added further depth to her training. As a keen dancer, she is also particularly fond of musical theatre.

Hagar Sharvit (Semifinal), Mezzo Soprano, born in 1986 in Israel, is a member of the ensemble at the Oldenburg State Theater. During the 2013/2014 season she was a member of the opera studio at the Deustche Oper on the Rhein. Her repertoire includes roles such as Bastien in Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos as well as the title role in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges. Hagar began her training at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv. She has won numerous awards at Lieder competitions and recently won the “Das Lied” competition in Berlin. She has had success on the stage as Smeton in Anna Bolena at the Gasteig in Munich and as Dejaneira in Hercules at the Oldenburg State Theatre. In 2011 she made her debut at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. Hagar was part of the Salzburg Festival’s Young Singers Project in 2012 as well as taking part in the Lieder academy organized by the Heidelberger Frühling music festival.

Yuma Shimizu, Baritone, born in 1986 in Japan, completed his singing studies at the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo. After having already played Silvio in I Pagliacci in 2010, he then played Conte Almaviva in 2011 in a student production of Le nozze di Figaro. In 2014 he appeared as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and one year later as Emilio in the Il Cappello di Paglia di Firenze, an opera written in 1945 by Nino Rota. Yuma is the winner of the Tokyo Music Competition and has also been awarded prizes in other national competitions. His biggest role model is Giuseppe Verdi, whom he admires for the precision of his characterization. Alongside opera, Yuma Shimizi also performs concert pieces and Lieder.

Sarah Shine, Coloratura Soprano, was born in 1993 in Limerick, Ireland and graduated from the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in music, which she earned with honors. She is currently enrolled in a recital artist diploma course at the same music academy. The coloratura soprano was a recipient of the RIAM Irene Sandford Award for singers and has also been awarded prizes in numerous competitions, such as the ESB Feis Ceoil and the Sligo Feis Ceoil. This year she also won the Christopher Lynch Singing Bursary in Limerick. She has already performed as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, as Filia in Jephte and as Clorinda in Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda on stage at the Opera Theatre Company Ireland. She has also performed as a soloist in Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, and her numerous recitals have made her well-known to the Irish public.

Anatoli Sivko (1st Prize), Bass, born 1987 in Belarus, studied singing at the Belarusian State Academy of Music in Minsk from 2008 to 2013. Next he performed as a soloist at the Bolshoi Theatre of Opera and Ballet, also in Minsk. Anatoli has won numerous prizes, including second prize in the Francisco Viñas International Singing Contest that took place in Spain in 2015. The bass singer took part in 2011 in the Salzburg Festival’s Young Singers Project. Roles such as Attila in Verdi’s opera of the same name, King Rene in Iolanta and Zuniga in Carmen have taken him to prestigious opera houses, including the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Zürich Opera House. In the 2015/2016 season, he will give a guest performance at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, where he made his debut playing Samuel in Un ballo in maschera. Anatoli also performs as a concert singer.

Natalia Tanasii, Soprano, born in 1991 in Moldova, is currently part of the opera studio at the Norske Opera and Ballet in Oslo, where she played Micaela in Carmen last season. She began taking singing lessons at the age of ten. From 2010 to 2014 she studied at the Academy of Music, Theatre and Fine Arts in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. During her studies she made her debut when she was 21 at the Moldovan National Theatre, playing Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro. She has also sung on this stage in other productions, playing roles such as Nedda in Pagliacciand Tatiana in Eugen Onegin, as well as playing Iolanta. The young soprano has won prizes at many competitions. Alongside her opera career, she also performs at concerts and gives regular recitals in her home country.

Savva Tikhonov, Tenor, born in 1986 in Russia, originally pursued a career in football. He changed his plans in 2005, however, and decided to study singing at the Russian University of Theatre Arts in Moscow. He graduated in 2010. The tenor, who was born in Kaliningrad, continued his training at the opera studio attached to Moscow’s renowned Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center. During his time there he gained stage experience during ensemble tours in Russia and abroad, playing the roles of Beppo in I Pagliacci and Lensky in Eugen Onegin. Alongside opera, he also enjoys singing Italian and Spanish art songs and Russian romances.

Camila Titinger (Special Prize), Lyric Soprano, born in 1989 in Brazil, studied singing at the Instituto de Artes Universidade Estadual Paulista in São Paulo, Brazil, graduating at the end of 2013. She is a member of the Theatro São Pedro opera studio in São Paulo. The lyrical soprano started gaining stage experience in 2012, playing the roles of Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, of Mimi in La Bohème, and then of Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann in 2013. In 2011 Camila won the Brazilian ‘Maracanto’ competition and was also awarded second place in the Bidu Sayão competition. Camila won first prize in 2013 in the Maria Callas International Opera Competition in her home city of Sao Paulo. In the same year she qualified to participate in the final round of the “Neue Stimmen” 2013 competition.

Aluda Todua, Baritone, was born in 1987 in Martvili, a town in Western Georgia. He began learning to play instruments at the age of five and had his first singing lesson aged ten. In 2006 he began his studies at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire, where he graduated with a master’s degree in 2012. Even during his time as a student he was able to gain experience on stage during the Conservatoire’s student productions. In these, he performed the roles of Germont in La Traviata, of Silvio in I Pagliacci, and of Fiorello and the Officer in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Aluda has won prizes in a variety of competitions, including the International Byulbyul Competition of Vocalists in Azerbaijan and the Elena Obraztsova International Competition of Young Opera Singers in Russia.

Hungarian mezzo-soprano Szilvia Vörös, Mezzo Soprano, born in 1988, is a member of the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest. From 2008 to 2013 she studied under Éva Marton at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, where she completed both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. In 2008, at just 20 years of age and before completing her studies, she was awarded first prize in the Simándy József Singing Competition. She also bested the competition in 2014 to win the Éva Marton Singing Competition, receiving the Grand Prix. Last season she sang at the Hungarian State Opera House in multiple roles, including as Fenena in Nabucco, Siebel in Faust, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, and Waltraute in Die Walküre. She has also sung in numerous performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passion music.

Wang Chen, born in 1995, is a Chinese soprano. She began her studies in 2013 under Tian Xie at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She began learning piano at the tender age of four, and when she was 12 she started taking singing lessons and sang in a choir. The “Neue Stimmen” international singing competition is her first experience of a singing competition. Wang Chen’s favorite composer is Richard Strauss, partly because of the diversity of his work in the areas of opera and Lieder. Alongside her passion for singing, Wang Chen also enjoys drawing.

Wang Senhui, Soprano, was born in 1992 in Hebei, near Beijing, China. She first discovered her love for classical music at a concert when she was 15 years old. She began taking singing lessons shortly after that. She currently studies at the XingHai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou. The young soprano has already taken part in multiple master class courses at the conservatory and has been particularly influenced by her Italian teachers: one of her favorite composers is Giuseppe Verdi. The soprano has already won a range of prizes at a national level, including the first Gold Award at the Teresa Belloc International Vocal Competition, China, as well as the first Gold Award at the seventh National Chinese and Foreign Opera & Art Songs Competition for University Students of China.

Sebastian Wartig, Baritone, born in 1989 in Germany, was a member of the young ensemble at the Semperoper in Dresden during the 2013/2014 season, and he was accepted into the opera’s ensemble at the beginning of the 2015/2016 season. Before he began his studies in 2008 at the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig , the baritone had been a member of the Dresdner Kreuzchor for ten years. During his studies Sebastian gave his debut performance at the Leipzig Opera, playing the role of Marullo in Rigoletto. Under Christian Thielemann, who had conducted him at the New Year’s Eve concert in 2014 where he sang alongside Anna Netrebko and Juan Diego Florez, he took on the role of Kilian in Der Freischütz. He later sang the part of Ottokar in the same production. He has also won many competitions, having been awarded first prize at the 2014 “Bundeswettbewerb” national singing competition in Berlin.

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