Plácido Domingo's Operalia crowns rising stars

In partnership with
 Plácido Domingo's Operalia crowns rising stars
By Katharina Rabillon
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The great singer's dedication to promoting rising talent in the world's foremost Opera singing competition enters its 26th year, and the latest edition has revealed an exceptional female voice.

Every year, Maestro Plácido Domingo crowns the rising opera stars of tomorrow.

The legendary tenor has brought his prestigious competition Operalia to Lisbon for the first time.

Around a thousand hopeful participants took part in the selection process. Only 12 made it to the finals of the 26th edition at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos.

"It's nerve-racking. After doing this I can do anything," said tenor Luís Gomes.

"It is a big honour and it is a big emotion also," says mezzo Marina Viotti.

The competition's president & founder seemed especially happy with the class of 2018.

"The competition was really tremendous. The situation was very special this year because it was almost a competition between mezzos and tenors," said Plácido Domingo.

It is the maestro himself who coaches the finalists and fine-tunes their arias for their big moment on stage. Mentoring is essential for him and it is the experience of a lifetime for 23-year-old Canadian mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo.

“He has this magical energy about him that just somehow makes you sing better," said Emily D'Angelo. "The team is fantastic and I mean to have Placido around and many of his family members as well, it feels like a family experience somehow. It is very warm.”

Marina Viotti said working with one of her heroes had been extraordinary.

"I saw Plácido when I was already a kid and to be able now to have this relationship like student-master, singer-singer I never expected that before."

A week full of emotions and hard work paid off for Belarus tenor Pavel Petrov who took home first prize, and it was a marvellous night for Emily D'Angelo who claimed an astonishing four top prizes.

"It's overwhelming, really. I mean the prizes are beyond words but the experience itself has been really, really positve and I won't forget it. It is a special time, a special week in my life, for sure," she said. No-one has ever scooped all but one of the top awards before.

Luís Gomes adds that even if you leave empty-handed, just taking part adds prestige to your CV.

"The fact that all the operatic world was watching is a very important thing. Even more than the prizes it's the way you have sung tonight, and showing people what you can do and hopefully that will bring some new amazing things."

For the winners, however, glory beckons.

"If you take the programmes of every theatre daily and you see how many winners of Operalia there are, it is amazing," said Plácido Domingo, with justifiable pride.

The 2018 prizewinners

1st Prize

Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano, Canada/Italy, 23

Pavel Petrov, tenor, Belarus, 27

2nd Prize

Samantha Hankey, mezzo-soprano, USA, 26

Migran Agadzhanyan, tenor, Russia, 26

3rd Prize

Rihab Chaieb, mezzo-soprano, Canada, 31

Arseny Yakovlev, tenor, Russia, 26

Birgit Nilsson Prize

Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano, Canada/Italy, 23

Samantha Hankey, mezzo-soprano, USA, 26

The Pepita Embil Prize of Zarzuela

Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano, Canada/Italy, 23

The Don Plácido Domingo Ferrer Prize of Zarzuela

Pavel Petrov, tenor, Belarus, 27

Luis Gomes, tenor, Portugal, 31

The Audience Prize

Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano, Canada/Italy, 23

Luis Gomes, tenor, Portugal, 31

CulturArte Prize

Josy Santos, mezzo-soprano, Brazil, 29

Journalist • Robert Hackwill

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