Thursday, August 28, 2014

SHOCKER: "Baritone Blackout" at Operalia

Despite 11 of the 40 competitors being baritones in this year's Operalia competition, not a single baritone made it to the final round. Many felt that a top prize winner could have come from the talented field of low voices that included Igor Bakan, Aleksey Bogdanov, Alexandre Duhamel, Dan Kempson, Alexey Lavrov, Alex Lawrence, Shea Owens, Damien Pass, Pavel Shmulevich, Anatoli Sivko and Ivan Thirion.

In what has been dubbed the "Golden Age of Baritones," it was a bit of shocker to see a complete blackout of baritones. Baritones have been winning top prizes at almost every major vocal competition in recent years, including the thrilling two runner-up finishers at the Mirjam Helin Competition, Croatian baritones Matija Meić and Leon Kosavic. Jonathan Beyer alone has won no less than 18 competitions. The Lotte Lenya Competition has a distinguished roster of low-voice winners that includes Doug Carpenter, Lucas Meachem, Liam Bonner, Zachary James, Cooper Grodin and Justin Lee Miller. Other examples include Gordon Bintner who won two prizes at the Canadian Opera Company Competition, Scott Conner who won the Loren L. Zachary Competition, Brandon Cedel who won the George London Competition, Jongmin Park taking two prizes at the Neue Stimmen Vocal Competition, Ukrainian Baritone Andrei Bondarenko Wins Cardiff Song Prize and Dominik Köninger winning the prestigious Wigmore/Kohn Competition.

At the Queen Sonja Competition last year, a full third of the finalists were baritones, including American Brandon Cedel, Turk Kartal Karagedik, Croatian Krešimir Stražanac and Moldavian Oleg Tilbulco. And the list goes on, which makes the "Baritone Blackout of 2014" at Operalia all the more shocking!

The finalists at the Operalia Competition will be tenor Joshua Guerrero - USA/Mexico, mezzo Alisa Kolosova  - Russia, soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen - USA, mezzo Carol Garcia -Spain, countertenor Andrey Nemzer - Russia, tenor Abdellah Lasri - Morocco, tenor Yi Li - China, soprano Amanda Woodbury  - USA, countertenor John Holiday - USA, soprano Sicilia Mariangela - Italy Anaïs Constans - France, tenor Mario Chang - Guatemala and soprano Christina Poulitsi - Greece.

You can watch the finals on at 10 PM EST/7 PM PST.


  1. Wow. If their recent Youtube videos are any indication, this is a lackluster group of finalists. To me, the only voice that stands out is John Holiday, the countertenor (which is funny since I distinctly remember Maestro Domingo is not a fan of countertenors).

  2. I'm sorry, but not to have a single baritone in the group when this is the golden age of baritones, well, it's strange. I guess they could claim they were giving the other voices a chance, but still, not even a token baritone? I'd love to know about the selection process. Then again, if I were in charge of something like this, I suspect I'd stack the deck with baritones.