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FULL X Elena Obraztsova International Competition of Young Opera Singers St.Petersburg 2015

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  • Video Recording from: YouTube     FULL VIDEO
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Nevertheless, the second round turned out to be very interesting from the point of view of the contestants’ understanding of the diverse dramatic chamber material. Its 40 members are 18 sopranos, 1 mezzo-soprano, 10 tenors, 7 baritones and 4 basses. In this sample, perhaps, the only striking thing is that there are more tenors in it than baritones and significantly more basses, and that even against the background of 18 sopranos there are quite a lot of them. At one time we were all talking about the shortage of tenors, now it seems that their era is coming. Of those tenors who did not qualify for the third round, I would first of all like to mention the very refined and romantically inspired Alexei Strazhevich (Belarus). But at the same time, his colleagues Alexander Nesterenko (Russia), Artyom Melikhov (Russia), Viktor Mendelev(Belarus), Irakly Murdzhikneli (Georgia), Shota Chibirov (Russia), who also dropped out of the competition after the second round, managed to make a very worthy impression.

Among the baritones falling into the same category, there were also quite a few quality vocalists: Byambazhav Mongolkhuu (Mongolia), Alexander Gontsa (Belarus), Timofey Dubovitsky (Russia) and Vitaly Lashko (Ukraine). A similar list of sopranos, due to the fact that this type of voice is always represented most widely at any competition, is somewhat larger: Yulia Pogrebnyak (Ukraine), Maria Motolygina (Russia), Elmira Karakhanova (Russia), Ekaterina Fenina (Russia), Olga Cheremnykh (Russia ) ), Fang Xianlei (China), and Anna Shapovalova(Russia), nevertheless received a special award “For the best performance of Tchaikovsky’s romance”.

In the third round, also by the decision of the jury, the finalists again performed not two (according to the regulations), but only one aria, but at the choice of the jury from the list proposed by the contestants. The Grand Prix was not awarded by the decision of the jury, and the laureate places were distributed as follows: 1st prize – Taras Prisyazhnyuk (tenor, Ukraine); II Prize – Chuluunbaatar Badral (baritone, Mongolia); III Prize – Emilia Ablaeva (soprano, Russia) and Vladimir Dmitruk (tenor, Belarus) At the same time, Saltanat Akhmetova (soprano, Kazakhstan) were named diploma winners of the competition ; Natalia Kuchina (soprano, Russia); Anna El-Hashem (soprano, Russia); Daria Ryabinko(mezzo-soprano, Russia); Yuri Rostotsky (tenor, Russia); Vyacheslav Vasiliev (baritone, Russia); Gleb Peryazev (bass, Russia) and Alexander Roslavets (bass, Belarus).

In addition, special awards of the competition were received by Saltanat Akhmetova (the award of the Charitable Foundation for the Support of Musical Art “Elena Obraztsova Foundation” and the right to give a solo concert in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory), Gleb Peryazev (the award “For the best performance of Sviridov’s romance”), Taras Prisyazhnyuk and Chuluunbaatar Badral (the right to perform in the concert program of the Academy of Young Singers of the Mariinsky Theatre), Vladimir Dmitruk (audience award and the right to perform in the performance of the Moscow Musical Theater “Helikon-Opera”), Vyacheslav Vasiliev (the right to perform as a soloist in one of the programs of the Great Hall of St. Petersburg Philharmonic). Finally, Dmitry Grigoriev(bass, Russia), who has not yet appeared in these notes, since his performance in the second round in the chamber repertoire somehow went completely unnoticed, received the right to perform in the performance of the Novaya Opera Theater in Moscow.

According to the official press release of the competition for Taras Prisyazhnyuk, all the jury members unanimously voted “for” in the first round. Well, indeed a worthy choice of the winner! Rare in beauty, plasticity and full-bodied timbre richness, the lyric tenor of the 1st Prize winner in the final unequivocally managed to surprise, amaze, delight with the performance of Romeo’s cavatina from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet. Chuluunbaatar Badral, well known to music lovers from the third season of the Bolshoi Opera TV project, in which he did not reach the final, appeared as a luxurious, stylistically noble vocalist and dramatically passionate unfortunate father in Rigoletto’s aria from Verdi’s opera of the same name.

But the winner of the third season of the Bolshoi Opera, Saltanat Akhmetova, this time became only a diploma student, although of all the sopranos who made it to the finals, she was professionally equipped, undoubtedly, much better than her colleagues in her related vocal specialization. And the hardest aria di bravura, the aria of Constanza from Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, has become an extremely weighty confirmation of this. But here we are just faced with the obvious: the distribution of prizes must be established between female and male voices separately, and I really hope that the next competition will return to its original practice. It was with great enthusiasm that I accepted the award of Saltanat Akhmetova with the Prize of the Charitable Foundation for the Support of Musical Art “Elena Obraztsova Foundation”: this somehow corrected the current situation.

In the meantime, we have one more than strange division of the III prize between the two finalists. It is not at all strange in relation to Vladimir Dmitruk, who presented a completely mature and musically heartfelt interpretation of Federico’s lament from Chile’s opera La Arlesian: he was the last to sing, and his performance seemed to put an amazingly bright final point. The strangeness of the division of the award lies in the very raw and stylistically vulnerable interpretation of the aria of Marguerite with Pearls from Gounod’s Faust, presented by Emilia Ablaeva, which, by the way, made a much stronger impression in the second round. But the very young Anna El-Hashem, who did not perform very brightly in the second round, in the finale with Violetta’s aria from the third act of Verdi’s La Traviata, simply touched to the core.

Daria Ryabinko turned out to be clearly underestimated at this competition, presenting Eboli’s aria from Verdi’s Don Carlos in the final – the stumbling block of all mezzo-sopranos – with stunning technicality and dramatic expressiveness. This singer is a real mezzo-soprano, dramatic, full-bodied in timbre, which, against the backdrop of the dominance of hidden sopranos in the world, who are only mezzos, is simply a rarity today. Soprano Natalya Kuchina, who performed very professionally in the second round, taking on the “holy of holies” bel canto, the final scene and Anna Boleyn’s aria from Donizetti’s opera of the same name in the third round, still tried on this outfit clearly prematurely: style problems made themselves felt. And yet, the fact that in the final of the competition in her native country the Russian singer generally took on the final from Anna Boleyn (albeit without the final stretta) in itself, of course, was worth a lot!

All the male voices of the finalists who did not become laureates are Gleb Peryazev with King René’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s Iolanthe, and Alexander Roslavets with Figaro’s aria from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and Yuri Rostotsky with Lensky’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Vyacheslav Vasiliev with Mazepa’s arioso from Tchaikovsky’s opera of the same name looked just as good compared to the winners, so, in general, the entire final of the competition was perceived mostly positively. The positive musical communication between contestants and listeners is exactly what competitions exist for, why participants apply for them, and why the audience constantly occupies seats in the auditorium at these competitions …

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