The runners and riders for this year's BBC Cardiff Singer of the World were announced today bringing to a close an auditioning process that included 600 singers, 45 cities and 36 countries. The all-important number (for now) is 20. You could, if you wanted to, fracture this number into smaller chunks such as:
- 12 Europeans, 2 North Americans, 2 South Americans, 2 Southeast Asians and 2 Australasians.
Or you could chunkify it another way:
- 1 bass, 6 baritones, 3 mezzo-sopranos, 1 tenor and 9 sopranos.
Or the most obvious quantifier of chunkage would be:
- 8 guys and 12 dolls.
But I prefer to stick with 20 individual singers.
Starring in alphabetical order...
Davide Bartolucci (Italy)
Andrei Bondarenko (Ukraine)
Susanne Braunsteffer (Germany)
Leah Crocetto (USA)
Sasha Djihanian-Archembault (Canada)
Máire Flavin (Ireland)
Vazgen Ghazaryan (Armenia)
Marcela González (Chile)
Szymen Komasa (Poland)
Hye Jung Lee (Republic of Korea)
Anna Leese (New Zealand)
Valentina Naforniţă (Moldova)
Olesya Petrova (Russia)
John Pierce (Wales)
Maria Radoeva (Bulgaria)
Meeta Raval (England)
Enzo Romano (Uruguay)
Helen Sherman (Australia)
Şerban Gheorghe Vasile (Romania)
Wang Lifu (China)
Of course with competitors you need a jury or, as is the case with BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, you need two of them. Entering the fray for the first time is the competition's new patron Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Cardiff Singer), as are conductor Alexander Polianichko (CS), pianist Bengt Forsberg (Song Prize) and director Lorenzo Mariani (CS). Making return visits are Håkan Hagegård (both), Dennis O'Neill (CS), Adam Gatehouse (SP) and Marilyn Horne (both) with John Fisher once again the chairman of the board of both competitions.
The bands playing the grooves are BBC National Orchestra of Wales (cond Jac van Steen) and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera (cond Lawrence Foster). Tickling the ivories are accompanists Simon Lepper, Gary Matthewman and Llŷr Williams.
The competitors will be battling to be one of the five finalists and the chance to win not only the competition but also pocket a handy £15,000. In addition to the main prize there is also £5000 at stake with the Song Prize competition and, in a nice touch by the organisers, there's also the renamed Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize voted for by members of the public worth £2000.
For the full lowdown pop on over to the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World website where you can find full biographies of all the competitors and jury members and also the concert schedules.
And if this has tickled your fancy why not come along to the whole shebang – tickets are still available for all the concerts, including the final (although they are going fast).