I Éva Marton International Singing Competition – Grand Prix gone to Hungarian Soprano

20 September 2014

Out of the 11 finalists, the only Hungarian, Szilvia Vörös has won the Grand Prix of the I Éva Marton International Singing Competition.

The jury of eight members, all of them outstanding representatives of the international opera world, awarded as a result of their discussion far into the night the 26-year-old mezzosoprano, Szilvia Vörös the Grand Prix at the Liszt Academy. On Saturday the Final round of the competition, which started on Monday, was full house. The eleven competitors (Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese (from China and Hong Kong), Romanian and Polish) sang in the Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy, and were accompanied by the MÁV Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ádám Medveczky. This has been the first international competition organized by the institute itself since the renovation of the Liszt Academy was finished last autumn. The 29-year-old Romanian baritone, Aghenie Alexandru was awarded the First Prize, which is worth 12,000 euros. He sang one aria from Gounod's Faust and one from Verdi's Il trovatore. The 30-year-old Ukranian soprano, Tetiana Zhuravel got the Second Prize, that is, 9,000 euros, while the 28-year-old Polish soprano, Marcelina Beucher won the Third Prize, which is worth 6,000 euros. The audience could also vote for singers and give their votes in the intermission of the Final. Thus, the Audience Prize of 500,000 HUF and the china replica of one of the Faun figures of the music palace on Liszt Ferenc Square was given to the Second Prize winner Tetiana Zhuravel.

Szilvia Vörös studied at the Richter János Secondary School of Music. As a student of Veronika Dobi-Kiss she won first prize at the Simándy József Singing Competition in 2008. In the same year she attended the Liszt Academy of Budapest where she studied in the class of Éva Marton. She graduated in 2013. She participated in masterclasses given by Éva Marton, Andrea Meláth, Leonardo de Lisi, Alberto Gazale and Nicholas Clapton.During her studies she performed the alto solo parts of Bach's Johannes- and Matthäus-Passion and also some oratory pieces by Mozart, Buxtehude, Arvo Pärt and György Orbán. Latest roles played by her include the Third Dame in Die Zauberflöte at the Liszt Academy. She also appeared in Elektra by Strauss at the Hungarian State Opera House.

After finishing the Music High School of Sfântu Gheorghe in 2004 Alexandru Aghenie continued his studies at the Academy of Music Transylvania in Brașov. He also graduated from the National Academy of Music in Bucharest in 2010. In 2012 he appeared on stage in various performances in Italy, for example at the Teatro Sociale di Stradella, Teatro Lirico di Magenta, Teatro Sociale di Como and Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna. These performances included operas such as La traviata by Verdi, Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti and Il trovatore by Verdi as well as opera concerts. Recently, he played Silvio from Pagliacci by Leoncavallo and Gianni Schicchi from Puccini's opera at the Brașov Opera House in 2012 and 2013. Alexandru Aghenie has won several prizes at singing competitions in Piatra Neamț (Romania), Manfredonia (Italy) and Bucharest (Romania).

Tetiana Zhuravel graduated from the Cherkasy Music College in piano in 2004. Between 2004 and 2009 she studied at the Art Institute of the National Pedagogical University and received a Master of Vocal degree. She attended the National Music Academy of Ukraine in Kiev in 2009 and graduated from there in 2013, having studied in Evdokia Kolesnyk's class. During her training she actively participated in the performances of the Opera Studio (as Marfa in Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar`s Bride, as Juliet in Gubarenko's Monologues of Juliet, and as Amuor in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. Since 2012 she has been a participant of the cultural project Three Hundred Years of British Music. She took part in King Arthur by Henry Purcell (as Filidel, Venus, Amuor) and in Fairy Queen. Since 2012 she has been a soloist of the Kiev Municipal Academic Male Choir. Her repertoire includes Ukrainian romances of the 20th century, Rachmaninov's songs and operatic roles, as well as Rimsky-Korsakov's, Gluck's and Offenbach's pieces.

Marcelina Beucher studied at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław in her mother's class (Professor Maria Czechowska-Królicka) and graduated with special distinction. In 2012 she spent one year in Riga (Latvia) in Professor Lilija Greidane's class. Since 2013 she has been a PhD student at the Academy of Music in Wrocław. In 2013 she made her professional opera debut as Violetta in La traviata by Verdi, conducted by Andriy Yurkevych at the Gdańsk Opera Bałtycka. She has participated in numerous masterclasses including vocal classes with Teresa Żylis-Gara, Elizabeth Wilke, Helena Łazarska, Andrzej Dobber, Urszula Kryger, Stefania Kałużanka, Esther de Bros, Ingrid Kremling, Mariana Nicolesco and Nadine Secunde. She has participated in music festivals and concerts in Poland, Russia, Germany, Romania, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, France and Italy.

The Liszt Academy announced the I Éva Marton International Singing Competition at a press conference attended by Éva Marton on 4 December 2013. Women aged 18-32 and men aged 18-35 in any voice category could apply in the qualifier of the four-round competition via the competition website or by post by 31 March 2014. Besides giving the usual data on the application form, competitors were also asked to provide their selected repertoire comprising a total of seven opera excerpts ideally selected from the competition aria list, plus as a special feature, one Liszt song. Another application condition was the uploading/mailing of two recent video recordings, in which the young singers could prove themselves with a freely chosen Baroque opera, oratorio or cantata excerpt – with piano or orchestral accompaniment – and another aria.

Besides drawing considerable attention from China, Japan, South Korea, Romania, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine, there have also been entries from many other parts of the world, from Iran to Nigeria, from the USA to Australia, from the Philippines to Israel, including 20 countries in Europe. The videos of the almost 150 singers were evaluated on the basis of the video material by a qualification jury chaired by Éva Marton. On the basis of their decision announced on 15 May 2014, a total of 77 entrants – including 11 Hungarians – from 26 countries go through to the rounds to be held this autumn.

Singers going into the preliminary round (16-17 September 2014) preapred their Liszt song and two arias of different characters, one of which the jury selected. In the semi-final on 18 September, those moving through were asked to test themselves in another two opera roles. The best then has progressed into the final with orchestral accompaniment, preparing three arias, one of which is selected by the singer and one by the jury – the latter was specified by the jury when the results of the semi-final were announced. The Hungarian State Opera hosts the gala concert on the closing day of the competition, with conductor for both the final and the gala recital Ádám Medveczky, professor at the Liszt Academy and conductor at the Opera House.

János Áder, President of the Republic of Hungary, is principal patron of the competition. Invitations to join the jury – which is chaired by Éva Marton – have gone to such greats of the opera world as tenor Vittorio Terranova, artistic director of the F. Tagliavini competition; Sabino Lenoci, director of the prestigious l'opera magazine, artistic director of the Sarzana Opera Festival; Miguel Lerín, one of the most influential managers in European opera circles; producer Pål C. Moe, casting consultant of the Bayerische Staatsoper and Glyndebourne Festival; Peter Mario Katona, the highly regarded expert who holds the position of director of casting at the London Royal Opera House; Szilveszter Ókovács, general director of the Opera; and conductor Balázs Kocsár.

Total prize money in the competition amounts to €42,000, out of which four prizes are awarded: €12,000 for first place, €9000 for second, and €6000 for third place. The €15,000 Grand Prix does not have to be awarded. Prizes cannot be shared or modified. (The prizes are covered from the budget of the 1st International Éva Marton Singing Competition, approved by the Hungarian government and funded by the Ministry of Human Capacities.) Special prizes – in the form of invitations, scholarships and valuable trophies – are offered by the sponsors and partners of the competition. The audience attending the Final can vote for the winner of the Audience Prize (500,000 forints, provided by the Hungarian Academy of Arts – MMA).

The biographies of the entrants, summaries of the rounds, exclusive background material and full information covering the competition is provided on the martoncompetition.hu website.