When talents become artists

Photos: Graham Carlow, Jan Voth, Michael Kneffel, Bernd Jonkmanns
From “Neue Stimmen” and the Liz Mohn Culture and Music Foundation to the world’s stages: Christiane Karg, Gyula Orendt and Rachel Frenkel performed at this summer’s Glyndebourne Festival in the UK.

Discovering, assisting, supporting: “Neue Stimmen” helps young talents both begin and plan their careers by providing individual coaching sessions with professionals from the world of opera. The experts include opera-house managers, concert organizers, agents, music professors and former finalists from the “Neue Stimmen” competition. To further assist the performers, the Bertelsmann Stiftung helps arrange performances at concerts and music festivals.

Three years ago, three former “Neue Stimmen” finalists appeared on the German TV show “Stars of Tomorrow” which is hosted by Rolando Villazón: Pavel Kolgatin from Russia, who placed fourth in 2009, Cristina-Antoaneta Pasaroiu from Romania, who came in fourth in 2011, and Kihwan Sim of South Korea, a runner-up in 2009.

With so many engagements of his own, why does Villazón make time to showcase up-and-coming performers? “It’s important to work with young people. Established artists have a responsibility in that regard” (Rolando Villazón). His greatest role model was Plácido Domingo. “When I hear from young singers that they now consider me a role model, it makes me feel sort of proud,” he says. “I can give myself a little pat on the back for having helped them choose a career.”

25 years of “Neue Stimmen”

In 2012 as well, 12 former “Neue Stimmen” finalists and prizewinners came together in Gütersloh to celebrate the competition’s 25th anniversary. The 12, who by then had become internationally renowned performers in demand at opera houses all around the globe, took advantage of the opportunity to share the stage with special guest Thomas Hampson. Currently one of the most sought after opera and lied singers, the American baritone performs regularly at the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls. For Hampson, a competition like “Neue Stimmen” is just the place for giving young singers support and the chance to demonstrate their talent. “I firmly believe that there are no losers at such competitions,” he says, “only winners.”

Ultimate opera setting

Three other singers who have a close relationship with “Neue Stimmen” and Liz Mohn recently had the opportunity to perform at the Glyndebourne Festival, the ultimate setting for an opera production. The three – Christiane Karg and Rachel Frenkel, “Neue Stimmen” prizewinners in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and Gyula Orendt, who was awarded a scholarship by the Liz Mohn Culture and Music Foundation – were asked to participate in the festival, located in the Sussex countryside in the south of England, in 2014. “Vocally, the production is outstanding,” is how the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, a leading German newspaper, reviewed the piece and the singers’ efforts.

“Neue Stimmen” finalists will be seen and heard at festivals and concerts this year as well:

• In a first-time partnership, three “Neue Stimmen” contestants will be part of the Ruhrtriennale, a festival that takes place in Germany’s Ruhr region. Jurgita Adamonyte, finalist in “Neue Stimmen” 2005, will be singing the role of Flosshilde in the festival’s production of Das Rheingold. Having received “Neue Stimmen” scholarships, mezzo-sopranos Fiorella Maria Hincapié from Colombia and Dara Savinova from Estonia participated in the College of the Campustriennale, which allowed them to experience the Ruhrtriennale festival in the company of other students and young artists from around the globe. The college brings together talents from various artistic disciplines to participate in seminars, attend festival performances and speak with artists and festival managers behind the scenes. “I learned a lot talking with the performers,” Hincapié said. “At the festival you can see all of the experience that goes into every show, concert and exhibition.”

• Eunju Kwon, who took first place at “Neue Stimmen” 2009 and is now a member of the ensemble at the National Theater in Mannheim, and Iurii Samoilov, a participant in “Neue Stimmen” 2009 and currently a member of the ensemble at the Frankfurt Opera, performed arias and duets on September 4 in Halle at the summer concert organized by the government of the state of North Rhine–Westphalia.

• The German Embassy in Washington, DC has invited four up-and-coming singers to perform on December 10.

• This year once again, “Neue Stimmen” participants will be guests on the German television show “Stars of Tomorrow,” which is produced by broadcasters ZDF and arte and hosted by Rolando Villazón.

Liz Mohn is always pleased to hear of performances by former “Neue Stimmen” contestants. “It’s a lot of fun watching young talents develop into self-confident artists,” she says. “I’ve seen ‘our’ singers appear at many other opera houses and festivals. It’s a wonderful feeling, especially since one of our primary concerns is not only discovering new singers, but also providing advice and support as they develop their careers.”

RETURN to Nadezhda’s Story

CONTINUE with “Creating Careers” – “‘Neue Stimmen’ Launched My Career”

Backstage the tension is rising. Rolando Villazón looks in on Christina-Antoaneta Pasaroiu one more time. The soprano will perform on Villazón’s TV show “Stars of tomorrow” in just a few minutes.