Italy, the homeland of opera, is getting its own international vocal competition with the inaugural Vincerò World Singing Competition. The event which commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the great Enrico Caruso’s death in 1921, is a celebration of the artist, his hometown of Naples, and Italy’s opera culture.
The competition is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and organized by the Euro Artist Association.
Contestants from five continents will vie for a spot at the Naples final, but they will need to make it through two rounds, both with judges from major opera houses across the globe along with six opera critics. The judges represent many of the most celebrated stages and opera publications.
The 12 judges from opera houses include Dominique Meyer, General Director – La Scala; Evamarie Wieser, Casting Director – Salzburg Festival; Peter De Caluwe, Artistic and General Director – La Monnaie Theatre of Brussels; Christoph Seuferle, Opera Director – Deutsche Oper Berlin; Peter Theiler, General Director – Semperoper Dresden; Diane Zola, Casting Director – Metropolitan Opera; Olga Kapanina, Casting Director – Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow; Peter Mario Katona, Casting Director – Royal Opera House; Joan Matabosch. Artistic Director – Royal Theatre of Madrid; Per Boye Hansen, Artistic Director – National Theatre of Prague; Sophie Joyce, Casting Director – National Opera of Paris; and the last of the 12, the Artistic Director of the Vincerò Competition, Angelo Taddeo.
Taddeo served as the secretary and artistic director of the Puccini Festival of Torre del Lago from 2015 to 2018, and he is currently artistic director of the Mediterranean Festival. The list of organized tours and concerts he has organized, along with the directors and artists he has collaborated with, is impressive and includes Montserrat Caballé, Piotr Beczała, and Leo Nucci.
OperaWire posed several questions about the competition to Taddeo to learn more.
OperaWire: Why was the Vincerò competition founded?
Angelo Taddeo: Vincerò was founded because Italy, despite being the homeland of the opera, has never had a worldwide opera competition and it is very important for us to spread our culture.
OW: How is Vincerò different from other competitions?
AT: The choice of mandatory arias is predominantly from the Italian opera repertoire, along with the obligation for participants to select their own Italian aria. Every year, the competition will pay homage to an artist who has valued the heritage of our homeland such as Enrico Caruso, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Zeffirelli, etc.
OW: The inaugural competition is a tribute to Enrico Caruso. How else will Vincerò honor the great tenor?
AT: Several concerts are planned in Naples to pay homage to Caruso. Taking part in the concerts will be many of the top names in the opera scene. However, at this moment we do not know if the concerts will be possible because of the pandemic situation.
OW: Can singers of any level take part in the qualifying round as long as they meet the age requirement?
AT: Yes, even career singers who want to gain experience in a competition of such a great artistic level can enter.
OW: There are three juries. How were the members selected for each?
AT: The members of the juries are close collaborators of the Vincerò competition. For the semifinals, a representative of the Vincerò competition, an external professional, and two professionals from the host structure will take part in the juries. For the final, we have invited the Artistic Directors and Casting Managers from among the major theaters in the world.
OW: How was the repertoire for the semifinals and final concert chosen?
AT: Being an opera competition that was born in Italy, we have focused on the opera repertoire of the major Italian composers such as Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini. However, the repertoire of German, Russian, and other European composers was certainly not neglected.
OW: How many contestants will make it to the semifinals and how many will go on to the final?
AT: All the participants from the first round video phase who show preparation and the required vocal technique demanded by the repertoire will progress to the semifinals. Then, over 60 candidates will make it to the final in Naples where they will be auditioned on the first day. The final to be held on October 31 will feature 15-20 candidates selected at the sole discretion of the international jury.
OW: Since the final concert jury comprises Artistic Directors and Superintendents, is there the possibility they might offer a finalist a contract?
AT: Absolutely yes, almost all the jurors will award a role or a concert in their opera house, always at their sole discretion.
Those looking to enter can find the registration and fee schedules on the Vincerò website. A reduced fee is available to competitors admitted to the semifinals for those coming from disadvantaged countries. A list of these is available on the site.