The final of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2013 offered five very different but complimentary singers, making for a well-balanced, concert if perhaps not one of sensations.
There was no obvious show-stopping winner, but equally no “also-rans” as has been the case in several previous finals. Rather, such was the quality of the singers, the audience savoured every moment from these professional performers.
The decision to select a relatively safe line-up of singers already signed up by big opera companies, with several performing on both sides of the Atlantic, paid off.
Other singers generated more of a spark with the audience, but it was the American mezzo soprano Jamie Barton who swayed the judges to be named winner
, the first woman to win both this event and the accompanying Song Prize and only the second contestant ever to do so.
The 31-year-old’s cleverly structured programme comprised a perfect aria from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, displaying her smooth melting mezzo before giving a characterful Witch’s Aria from Hänsel und Gretel.
Her Sibelius was hauntingly beautiful and her closing choice of Dido’s dark and gorgeous aria from Berlioz’s Les Troyens, meticulously sung and a clear competition clincher.
In contrast, Italian soprano Romano seared her way through a trio of dramatic powerhouse roles from Massenet, Boito and Verdi. This was a performance that gripped with passion, full of intensity and demonstrating why this 28-year-old is already singing big roles in the great Italian opera houses.
The charismatic 25-year-old Croatian bass-baritone Marko Mimica thrilled the audience with a programme filled with elegance, power and humour, demonstrating why he too is already enjoying a blossoming career at Deutsche Oper. With a glorious voice, his Mozart was a delight, his Verdi powerful while the Rossini titillated terrifically.
Daniela Mack’s programme started gently with Sapho’s aria from the rarely performed Gounod opera, stepping up the intensity with Mozart’s Idomeneo. The 31-year-old mezzo’s effervescent display of vocal ability with Cinderella’s feel-good aria from La Centerentola proved the real crowd pleaser.
Ukrainian soprano Olena Tokar, who turned 25 on Friday, again showed her talent as a natural communicator and buckets of charm. Obviously most at ease with Dvorác, her programme of Pamina from Magic Flute, Musetta from Boheme and Marguerite from Faust shows this is delightful singer of enormous potential.