The ten finalists for the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup have been announced, following the competition semi-final at Glyndebourne on 22 March.
The singers will compete in the final on 24 March for the chance to win £15,000 and the guarantee of a role within five years at one of the top international opera houses represented on the competition’s jury.
The Glyndebourne Opera Cup finalists are:
Francesca Chiejina, 27, soprano (USA)
Samantha Hankey, 25, mezzo-soprano (USA)
Elbenita Kajtazi, 27, soprano (Kosovo)
Eléonore Pancrazi, 27, mezzo-soprano (France)
Emily Pogorelc, 21, soprano (USA)
Cody Quattlebaum, 24, bass-baritone (USA)
Jacquelyn Stucker, 28, soprano (USA)
Gemma Summerfield, 27, soprano (UK)
Charles Sy, 26, tenor (Canada)
Hubert Zapiór, 24, baritone (Poland)
Among the finalists is soprano Elbenita Kajtazi, 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, 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. American bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum was a chef for six years before he decided to commit to his musical career.
Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s Executive Chairman, said: ‘Glyndebourne takes pride in supporting new talent and the Glyndebourne Opera Cup is a great new way for us to showcase the stars of tomorrow. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the standard of the competitors throughout the competition, and am hugely excited for the final.’
Sebastian F Schwarz, chair of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup jury, said: ‘We were treated to some really amazing music-making from our semi-finalists who conquered their nerves and rose to the occasion with grace and verve. It was a tough job for the jury to choose just ten finalists but we’re delighted with the lineup and I’m really looking forward to seeing the ten singers perform again on Saturday.’
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 B Devan, who runs Opera Philadelphia, Fortunato Ortombina, Intendant and Artistic Director of Teatro La Fenice in Venice, and Joan Matabosch, Artistic Director of Teatro Real in Madrid.
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 help adjudicate the final.
The Glyndebourne Opera Cup focuses on a different single composer or strand of the repertoire each time it is held. In 2018 the featured composer is Mozart and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is accompanying the singers.
The final of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup takes place on Saturday 24 March at Glyndebourne and will be broadcast live on Sky Arts from 5.30pm, hosted by Chris Addison and Danielle de Niese.