Serbian soprano wins the 4th Éva Marton International Singing Competition

5 September 2021

Sonja Šarić, 31, collected the EUR30,000 First Prize and the audience award at the gala evening of the 4th Éva Marton International Singing Competition organized on Sunday.

The EUR20,000 Second Prize was taken by Kazakh baritone Azat Malik, while South Korean tenor Jihoon Son received the Third Prize and the accompanying EUR10,000 award. Turkish-German mezzo-soprano / alto Deniz Uzun was awarded the EUR10,000 Éva Marton Special Prize, established with the support of the Hungarian Academy of Arts.

At the final held on Saturday night in the Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy, competitors performed an aria in each of two rounds, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera and under the baton of Balázs Kocsár, principal music director. In addition, each singer introduced themselves in a short film while members of the audiences could vote for their favourite contestant. Afterwards, the jury decided on the awards, which were announced and handed over at the Sunday evening gala concert, also held in the Grand Hall.


The jury also handed out several special prizes. Kazakh baritone Azat Malik – winner of this year’s Second Prize and a competitor in the 2nd Éva Marton Singing Competition in 2016 where he made it to the finals -  was awarded with a performance opportunity by the Hungarian State Opera and the Palace of Arts in Budapest, respectively. South Korean tenor Jihoon Son, who won the Third Prize, was also invited to perform by the Hungarian State Opera as well as concert organizer Filharmónia Magyarország.

Among the finalists, Argentine singer Germán Enrique Alcántara was invited by the Liszt Academy to perform in a concert in the 2022/2023 season and was awarded a performance opportunity by the Margitsziget Theatre in one of their upcoming summer shows, in addition to receiving the Bravo Baritone - Best Baritone Special Award along with the EUR800 monetary award from the Serj Mecenat Classic Foundation of Mongolia. Anna Csenge Fürjes, the only Hungarian finalist, won invitations to perform with the Hungarian Radio Music Ensembles and the Miskolc Symphony Orchestra, as well as special prizes from the cultural portals Fidelio and Papageno, respectively.

Ukrainian bass Volodymyr Tyshkov was awarded a debut performance at the Astana Opera in Kazakhstan, in addition to opportunities to perform with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Theatre of Szeged. Turkish-German mezzo-soprano / alto Deniz Uzun won invitations from the Palace of Arts in Budapest and the MÁV Symphony Orchestra, while American baritone Ethan Vincent will attend three auditions in three opera houses in Spain, courtesy of Lerín Artist Management. This special prize was offered by Miguel Lerín, one of the members of the international jury. Ukrainian baritone Oleksandr Kyreiev, who made it to the final but didn’t participate due to his sudden illness, was offered an invitation by the Hungarian State Opera based on his performance in the semi-finals. Polish tenor Pjotr Kalina, who reached the semi-finals, was offered a two-week masterclass by Antholi Goussev, a member of the jury who lives in Milan and works as a professor at the La Scuola Musicale in Foro Buonaparte di Milano.


Photo: Liszt Academy/László Mudra

 “A jury president could not wish for better, brighter and more beautiful voices or people at an international competition,” stressed Éva Marton, Professor Emerita of the Liszt Academy, at the awards ceremony.

The singer, whose name the competition bears, thanked the Liszt Academy, the prestigious international jury, the young singers, the sponsors, and everyone who worked on organizing the competition. “We got to know other cultures and a cohesive community of competitors whose members rooted for each other,” she added. Marton expressed her delight that the gala could be attended by an audience.

She announced that the Liszt Academy plans to hold the 5th Éva Marton International Singing Competition in 2022. She noted that this world-class competition was important because it promoted Hungary abroad. "Establishing such a competition is in itself a world sensation and bolsters the reputation of the Hungarian homeland, which is so dear to me," she emphasized.

“We are standing on the stage of one of the top 100 performing arts universities according to international university rankings. The joint mission of the Liszt Academy and the Éva Marton International Singing Competition is to nurture young talents and help their careers,” emphasized Dr. Andrea Vigh, President of the Liszt Academy, before Saturday's final. She thanked Professor Emerita Éva Marton, whose name the competition bears, for being a steadfast supporter of the Liszt Academy with exemplary discipline and attention. The President emphasized that this unique institution, founded by Franz Liszt, has been home to some of the greatest musicians in the world since its inception, both educators and performers.


Sonja Šarić, who won the First prize worth EUR 30,000 and the audience award, performed at the final the Casta Diva, an aria from the opera Norma by Bellini and Leonora’s cavatina from Verdi's Il Trovatore. The Serbian soprano graduated in Mannheim and then studied at the Lied Academy of the Heidelberg Spring Music Festival and the George Solti Academy. She has won prizes at several singing competitions, including the Grand Prix and the Gold Medal of the Maria Callas International Grand Prix in 2017.


Azat Malik, the Kazakh baritone who won the Second Prize and the EUR 20,000 monetary award, performed an aria from the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart and from Verdi's Masked Ball at the final. Born in 1991, the baritone earned his bachelor's degree from the National University of the Arts in Kazakhstan, followed by a master's degree in 2019; from 2018 to 2021 he also studied for a master's degree at the Liszt Ferenc University of Music in Budapest. He is currently a guest artist at the Hungarian State Opera and the Astana Opera in Kazakhstan.


Jihoon Son, who won the Third Prize and the EUR 10,000 award, sang from Rossini’s opera Cinderella and Puccini's La Boheme. Born in 1990, the South Korean tenor graduated in Seoul and is currently studying at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Munich and the Theater Akademie August Everding. He has won numerous awards in Korea, toured as a soloist with Korea’s greatest ensembles and performed in Rome with conductor Stephen Kramer.

Deniz Uzun, winner of the Éva Marton Special Prize, performed arias from Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers and La Favorite by Donizetti. The German mezzo-soprano / alto of Turkish origin studied at the University of Music in Karlsruhe and the University of Music in Mannheim, and is currently a member of Opera Zurich. Her competition successes include the Charlotte-Hamel Prize at the 2012 Berlin National Singing Competition and two special prizes at the 2018 Belvedere Competition, including an invitation to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin.


Photo: Liszt Academy/László Mudra


The 4th Éva Marton International Singing Competition, delayed to this year from 2020 due to the pandemic, was attended by a record 66 competitors. Even more applicants indicated their intention to participate, but some singers withdrew from the race at the last minute citing the still uncertain travel conditions. In addition to the highest ever number of applicants, the number of semi-finalists also hit a new record: 255 young talents from 47 countries submitted their videos in the spring of 2020, of which the preliminary jury chaired by Éva Marton invited 116 contestants to the live rounds of the competition.

Thanks to the support provided by the Hungarian government, the jury of the competition organized by the Liszt Academy - chaired by Éva Marton - included luminaries of the international opera life. The members of the panel were: Miguel Lerín, one of the most influential managers in European opera;  Peter Mario Katona, casting director of the Royal Opera in London; opera singer Anatoli Goussev, professor at the La Scuola Musicale in Foro Buonaparte di Milano; Larisa Gergieva, artistic director of the Academy for Young Opera Singers at the Mariinsky Theatre; opera singer Dmtry Vdovin, founding artistic director of the Bolshoi Theatre Young Artists Programme and visiting professor at many renowned opera studios around the world; and from Hungary Andrea Meláth, head of the Singing Department of the Academy of Music and Szilveszter Ókovács, director general of the Hungarian State Opera.