At the opening ceremony of the 3rd Éva Marton International Competition on Monday morning, Imre Szabó Stein, Senior Advisor of Communications and Development of the contest, pointed out that 145 young singers had applied to participate in the competition from four continents and thirty-eight countries ranging from Peru to Japan, from South Africa to Finland. With consideration to the exceptionally strong field, based on the decision of the Selection Jury, one and a half times more candidates made it through to the live rounds: 94 contestants were invited to participate, and 61 will actually begin matching their talents and skills in the competition. Mr Szabó Stein emphasised that for the first time in the history of the competition, the Liszt Academy would host the gala concert concluding the event, and he also added that it was also a novel development that the name of the Grand Prize (nearly 5 million HUF) winner of the contest would only be announced at the very end of the gala concert on Sunday.
In her opening address, Éva Marton, eponym of the Singing Competition, in the first place thanked the Liszt Academy for opening her gates before singers from all over the world and then introduced the members of the international jury present: professor of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire, tenor Teimuraz Gugushvili who joined up for the first time and the baritone Franz Grundheber, permanent member of the Hamburg and Vienna State Operas as well as Vittorio Terranova, Artistic Director of the Accademia del Belcanto and of the International Course of Lyric Singing Ferruccio Tagliavini, professor of La Scuola Musicale di Milano, Anatoli Goussev and one of the most significant opera manager in Europe, Miguel Lerín. The jury’s work is also assisted by the Casting Director of the London Royal Opera, Peter Mario Katona and two Hungarians, the Head of the Department of Vocal and Opera Studies, Andrea Meláth and the General Director of the Hungarian State Opera, Szilveszter Ókovács. Éva Marton advised the competitors not to be scared of the jurors, as most of them – being singers themselves – know just too well how difficult it is to successfully perform on a stage. The internationally celebrated soprano asked the audience to attend or follow online also the Preliminary and Semi-final rounds in order to become familiar with the entire field shortlisted by the Selection Jury and to enjoy the Liszt songs that form a compulsory part of the repertoire of the Preliminary round, which are especially close to her heart and lend the contest a uniquely Hungarian flavour. Finally, Ms Marton invited all young singers to the free-of charge masterclass open to all participants regardless of their results, which will be held in the three days consecutive to the gala concert.
Subsequently, after the welcoming address, Beáta Schanda, Secretary of the 3rd Éva Marton International Singing Competition communicated the procedure of the competition, and then with the help of the youngest singer, Inna Fedorii, the order of appearance of the participants got determined by the draw: the rounds would always start with the Argentinian tenor, Rolando Guy No. 23 (or should he not make it to the Semi-final or Final rounds, with the next competitor in order). Click here for the short bio and complete competition repertoire of the singers!
At the end of the opening ceremony, Mr Imre Szabó Stein informed the audience that thanks to the online streaming on the competition’s website and Facebook page, all rounds could be tracked from anywhere on the globe (as was proved by the fact that on Monday afternoon, the Argentinian contestant was heard by many of fellow-citizens in his home-country despite the considerable time difference). Furthermore, the Final on Saturday and the gala concert on Sunday will be both aired by Bartók Radio and the television channel MTVA M5.
It is now for the third time this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that young singers gathered in Budapest are to introduce themselves with an opera aria and a Liszt song in the Preliminary round in the Solti Hall, Liszt Academy, which can be visited free-of-charge by the public. In the Semi-final round – also open to everyone - in the afternoon and evening of 13 September, a couple of dozen singers selected by the jury will show their talent by performing two opera excerpts each. In the Final of the 3rd Éva Marton International Singing Competition on 15 September, again two arias are to be interpreted by the most excellent participants in the Grand Hall. Although by the end of the night, the decision of the audience and the jury will have been reached, we will learn about the end results – who will win the Grand Prize of 15 000 Euros - only in the very last moments of the Gala Concert on Sunday night.
However, it is perhaps more important than the various prizes amounting to over 50 000 Euros, that the excellent accomplishment of the winners of the contest may represent a gate to a rising career. The careers of the two singers having won a Grand Prize so far – Szilvia Vörös and Alexander Roslavets – rocketed fast following the competition. The Hungarian mezzo-soprano does not only feature frequently on the stage of the Hungarian Opera, but has also sung alongside Plácido Domingo and Anna Netrebko, and she can only boast a solo contract with the Vienna State Opera, while the Belarusian bass is making his debut in the New York Metropolitan Opera next February. The Liszt Academy, which has been the „birthplace” of so many successful musical careers, will again likely be a significant site in the career history of several opera stars.
Photos: Andrea Felvégi