Levy Sekgapane wins top prize in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition

Levy Sekgapane wins top prize in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition

30.07.17  South African tenor Levy Sekgapane, 26, and Romanian soprano Adela Zaharia, 29, have taken the top prizes in Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s annual opera competition, which had its final round at Astana Opera.

Sekgapane and Zaharia who each won $30,000 first prizes, were two of the eighteen singers to enter the competition’s final round, which featured the finalists performing alongside the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra conducted by Plácido Domingo. This year marked the twenty-fifth edition of Operalia.

Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan and Italian tenor Davide Giusti each won second prizes in the competition, taking home $20,000 each. Kazakh soprano Maria Mudryak and South Korean baritone Leon Kim won Operalia’s third prizes, each worth $10,000.

The competition’s Birgit Nilsson prizes, which award $15,000 to two singers who perform repertoire by Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner, went to Russian soprano Oksana Sekerina and Czech bass-baritone Boris Prýgl.

Soprano Zaharia won Operalia’s $10,000 Pepita Embil Zarzuela prize, and Italian tenor Marco Ciaponi won the competition’s Don Plácido Domingo Ferrer Zarzuela prize, which also carries $10,000. The competition’s Zarzuela prizes are in honor of Plácido Domingo’s parents.

Operalia’s audience prizes, are given to two singers elected by the audience in attendance during the finals, went to the third prize winners: Mudryak — the soprano from Kazakhstan — and Kim the South Korean baritone. In winning the audience prizes, both singers received watches offered by Rolex, which presented the competition. A $10,000 CulturArte prize, given to a singer selected by Bertita & Guillermo Martinez from CulturArte de Puerto Rico, went to South Korean soprano Sooyeon Lee. Artists who did not place in the final round were given prizes of $5,000.

The finalists in this year’s competition were drawn from twenty-five singers who took part in Wednesday’s semifinals round. For that round, each of the semifinalists performed one aria and one zarzuela selection (if competing in the competition’s Zarzuela category). Those singers were narrowed down from an initial group of forty young vocalists drawn from seventeen countries.

Adjudicated by a jury of twelve opera experts and presided over by Plácido Domingo as a non-voting mediator, Operalia is open to singers between ages 18 and 32. Founded in 1993 by Domingo, the event annually awards some of the most generous prizes given by any competition in the opera industry.

Past winners have included Sonya Yoncheva, Joyce DiDonato, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Aida Garifullina, Ludovic Tezier, Rolando Villazón, Erwin Schrott, Pretty Yende, Stéphane Degout, Inva Mula, Nina Stemme, José Cura, John Osborn, Susanna Phillips, and many others.

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