Posted by Sari
Cardiff Singer of the World is one of the most prestigious competitions for classical singers, and one in which Finnish singers have succeeded extremely well. Karita Mattila and Tommi Hakala are previous winners, Kirsi Tiihonen won the song price, and both Soile Isokoski and Monica Groop were finalists, the latter in a stellar year which saw Bryn Terfel and Dimitri Hvorostovsky battling for the win.
YLE showd this year's competition today, no Finns, but a bunch of interesting singers. The prize went clearly to the right person, the 27-years old US soprano Nicole Cabell. She has an absolutely stunning voice and she showed no weaknesses in the final. Her first piece, an aria from Tippett's oratorio Child of our Times made hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and I don't even much care for Tippett. I was not quite so taken with the aria from Idomeneo, but the Berlioz was once again masterful and really showed her range.
My sentimental favourite was the New Zeland mezzo Wendy Dawn Thompson, I loved her programming - La Spectre de la Rose is one of my favourite songs ever - and I thought she did good with Strauss here.
The two tenors in the competition Kennedy and Sandoval were refreshingly different, Kennedy going for Händel, Mozart and R. Strauss while Sandoval kept with more italianate repertoire with Donizetti and Verdi spiced up with Gounod. Both have beautiful voices, but did not really stand out as performers. Kennedy won the song prize, and it would be interesting to hear him in a recital.
The fifth finalist, the italian soprano Daria Masiero suffered by being compared to Cabell (who in addition to having a voice like liquid gold has - as Hilary Finch in The Times puts it - the glamour quotient of Shirley Bassey and Nefertiti combined). Her Liu was a bit frantic and though Oh Mio Babbino Caro was sung beautifully I am not sure that having two Puccini arias bookending the Mozart was the best programming decision.
All in all, the competition made me miss terribly my vinyl collection, gathering uselessly dust in storage as someone "misplaced" our record player...