The semi-finalists for the first Glyndebourne Opera Cup have been announced.
Following a worldwide search that attracted nearly 200 entries, and preliminary rounds in Berlin, London and Philadelphia, 23 singers aged 21-28 have been chosen to compete in the semi-final at Glyndebourne on 22 March.
The singers will be competing for one of 10 places in the final on 24 March, which will be broadcast live on Sky Arts. The overall winner will receive £15,000 and the guarantee of a role within five years at one of the top opera houses represented on the competition jury.
Fourteen nationalities are represented among the semi-finalists, reflecting the international scope of the competition. The countries represented are Austria, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Kosovo, Mexico, Poland, the UK, Ukraine, and the USA.
The backgrounds of the semi-finalists are as varied as their nationalities.
Among them are soprano Elbenita Kajtazi (26), who as a young girl was forced to flee her home in war-torn Kosovo with her family, and live as a refugee in Albania. She fell in love with opera after watching clips of Maria Callas on YouTube. Soprano Francesca Chiejina (27), born in Lagos, Nigeria, had first planned to be a doctor before she caught the singing bug, as had her fellow semi-finalist, Canadian tenor Charles Sy (26). American bass baritone Cody Quattlebaum (24) was a chef for six years before he decided to commit to his musical career. Further details about the contestants will be revealed in an hour-long Glyndebourne Opera Cup documentary to be broadcast on Sky Arts on Thursday 22 March.
The Glyndebourne Opera Cup focuses on a different single composer or strand of the repertoire. In 2018 the featured composer is Mozart and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will accompany the singers at the final.
The full list of semi-finalists is below – short biographies for each are available to press on request. A further heat will take place nearer the semi-final for a small number of contestants who had qualified for the competition but for reasons of illness were unable to attend one of the preliminary rounds, so it is possible that one or two additional names will be added to the list at a later date.
Glyndebourne Opera Cup semi-finalists
Adèle Charvet 24, mezzo-soprano (France)
Francesca Chiejina 27, soprano (USA)
Jorge Espino 26, baritone (Mexico)
Adriana Gonzalez 26, soprano (Guatemala)
Samantha Hankey 24, mezzo-soprano (USA)
Elbenita Kajtazi 26, soprano (Kosovo)
Dmytro Kalmuchyn 24, baritone (Ukraine)
Aurora Marthens 25, soprano (Finland)
Mirjam Mesak 27, soprano (Estonia)
Denis Milo 27, baritone (Germany)
Jake Muffett 24, baritone (UK)
Diana Newman 28, soprano (USA)
Gemma Ní Bhriain 25, mezzo-soprano (Ireland)
Alexandra Nowakowski 25, soprano (USA/Poland)
Eléonore Pancrazi 27, mezzo-soprano (France)
Emily Pogorelc 21, soprano (USA)
Cody Quattlebaum 24, bass-baritone (USA)
Anita Rosati 24, soprano (Austria)
Carl Rumstadt 25, baritone (Germany)
Jacquelyn Stucker 28, soprano (USA)
Jack Swanson 24, tenor (USA)
Charles Sy 26, tenor (Canada)
Hubert Zapiór 23, baritone (Poland)
The Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2018 semi-finalists. First row, l-r: Carl Rumstadt; Adriana Gonzalez; Jorge Espino; Diana Newman; Jack Swanson; Adèle Charvet. Second row, l-r: Gemma Ní Bhriain; Samantha Hankey; Francesca Chiejina; Charles Sy; Alexandra Nowakowski; Elbenita Kajtazi. Third row, l-r: Hubert Zapiór; Eléonore Pancrazi; Jacquelyn Stucker; Aurora Marthens; Cody Quattlebaum. Fourth row, l-r: Mirjam Mesak; Jake Muffett; Anita Rosati; Denis Milo; Emily Pogorelc; Dmytro Kalmuchyn.
‘Glyndebourne enjoys a long held reputation for finding and nurturing new talent,’ says Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s Executive Chairman. ‘It is with this in mind that I look forward to welcoming all of the competitors to the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup semi-final on 22 March.
‘These talented young singers will have the opportunity to perform on the Glyndebourne stage, sing in front of a TV audience and ultimately have the chance of winning a cash prize and even a major operatic role. I wish them all the very best of luck and am delighted that Glyndebourne is able to showcase this new generation of singers on our stage.’
Sebastian F. Schwarz, Chair of The Glyndebourne Opera Cup jury, says, ‘These young singers piqued our curiosity; they revealed engaging artistic personalities and promising, beautiful instruments, and they demonstrated superior technical and musical skills.’
‘I am delighted with the semi-finalists we have chosen,’ adds Schwarz. ‘They represent the best Mozart singing to be found in their age group (up to 28) and reaffirm my hopes about the future of opera. I am very excited to be hearing them all again in the semi-final at Glyndebourne and wish each of them the very best.’
Glyndebourne Opera Cup trophy, designed by Alex Echo. Photo: James Bellorini.
The international jury for The Glyndebourne Opera Cup includes representatives from top international opera houses. Among them are Barrie Kosky, Artistic Director of Komische Oper Berlin, Sophie de Lint, Artistic Director of Zurich Opera and Director Designate of Dutch National Opera, David Devan, who runs Opera Philadelphia, Fortunato Ortombina, Sovrintendente of Teatro La Fenice in Venice, and Joan Matabosch, Artistic Director of Teatro Real in Madrid.
Acting as the competition’s honorary president is Dame Janet Baker, whose own early career was fostered by Glyndebourne. As well as presenting the prizes, she will adjudicate at the live final.
The semi-finals and final of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup take place on the 22 and 24 March respectively at Glyndebourne. Tickets for the semi-final are available here. The final is currently sold out, please call 01273 815 000 for returns.
The highlights of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup worldwide heats will air on the 22 March, with the semi-final on the 23 March and the live final on the 24 March, on Sky Arts. Sky Arts’ coverage will be presented by Chris Addison and Danielle de Niese..