The annual Operalia competition, held this year in Moscow, concluded Sunday with a ceremony led by the organization’s founder, Plácido Domingo. The first-prize winners were American tenor René Barbera and South African soprano Pretty Yende. Operalia was founded in 1993 to give young, early-career singers exposure on an international scale. The competition is held in a different city each year.
Barbera, who is 27, hails from Texas. He won a total of three prizes on Sunday, including the men’s first prize for opera, the men’s prize for zarzuela and the audience favorite prize.
Yende is a South African singer with Zulu heritage. The soprano earned the women’s first prize for opera. Yende is scheduled to appear at La Scala in Milan next season in productions of “Aida” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”
A number of past Operalia winners have gone on to achieve worldwide fame, including Rolando Villazón, Erwin Schrott and Joyce DiDonato.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.