Since its inception in 1983, the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition has featured over a dozen victors in differing categories.
The Singer of the World title has been awarded since 1983, but the Song Prize didn’t start until 1989. As is usually the case with these competitions, some victors go on to major international careers while others have solid careers outside the spotlight.
Here, in order of their victories, is a look at the singers who won the competition and went on to major international operatic repute.
Karita Mattila (1983, Singer of the World)
The Finnish soprano was the first-ever winner of the competition and has since managed a tremendously rich and varied career that has seen her dominate in German and Czech repertoire with solid forays into the Italian. To this day Mattila remains an artistic treasure; her recent work at the Metropolitan Opera in “Jenufa” was seen as one of the finest performances of the season.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1989, Singer of the World)
The Russian baritone is one of the most beloved singers of the past decade, his star growing slowly before exploding into superstardom over the last 10 or so years. He won the main competition singing “Eri Tu” from Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera,” a role and repertoire he would go on to dominate decades later.
Bryn Terfel (1989, Song Prize)
In the first-ever Song Prize, it was the Welsh bass-baritone who would seal the deal, performing Schumann in the final round. Terfel of course has made strides around the world, earning himself knighthood a few months back and dominating a wide range of repertoire from Mozart to Wagner.
Christopher Maltman (1997, Song Prize)
The baritone (yes, another one) has had a solid international career in the lighter lyric baritone rep, in such operas as “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” the operas of Mozart, and the occasional Strauss or Verdi work.
Anja Harteros (1999, Singer of the World)
The German soprano is arguably the greatest Verdi soprano in the world, and her work with tenor Jonas Kaufmann will be long remembered the way such collaborations as Pavarotti-Sutherland or Corelli-Tebaldi are.
Nicole Cabell (2005, Singer of the World)
The American singer has built up a solid international career, her repertoire spanning from Mozart to Gounod to Puccini to Mahler. Holding a contract with Decca, she has also made a number of recordings, including “Porgy and Bess,” Donizetti’s “Imelda de’ Lambertazzi” and “La Bohème,” starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón.
Valentina Nafornita (2011, Singer of the World & ‘Audience Prize’)
The Moldovan soprano is a rising star and has made the rounds in Romania and Vienna. She is very much on the radar for opera’s future and is one of the few artists in the competition’s history to win two awards.
Jamie Barton (2013, Singer of the World & Song Prize)
Everyone in sports loves a good record, and to this point Barton holds the biggest of all, as one of only two winners to take home victories in both of the major categories. Of course, Barton has skyrocketed to operatic fame since, dominating at the Metropolitan Opera this season in “Rusalka” and “Nabucco” and releasing her first solo album to great acclaim.