The Week Ahead BBC Cardiff Singer of the World


The Week Ahead

Petroc Trelawny looks forward to the coverage of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011. Twenty of the world's finest young opera singers come to Cardiff to compete.


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It's been described as the world's greatest singing competition. 20 of

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the world's best young opera singers go head to head. A jury of

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opera Legends. At stake, the most coveted prize in opera. It's BBC

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Every two years St David's Hall in Cardiff becomes a magnet for the

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best young opera talent from around the world. Ever since Finnish

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Soprano Karita Mattila was named the first BBC Cardiff Singer of the

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World back in 1983 the competition's international status

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has been guaranteed. It's since launched some of the biggest names

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in opera. This time 600 singers representing 68 countries have been

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auditioned. Just 20 remain to battle it out here in Cardiff -

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each hoping to convince the Jury that they have what it takes to be

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the next BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. All they have to do is show

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us what they can do and do it well. All judges and audience members are

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longing for the extraordinary. This is such a great opportunity

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for any young singer to be seen and heard.

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If I go there and sing to the best of my capacity, that's all that I

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want. To have a chance to just sing to the world, that's what it is all

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about. If you win the The professional

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world takes notice. We need to see a performance. We

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need to see what they are capable It's got to be ace, it is the

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competition. It is so intense, so exciting, but

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it is one hell of an experience. Just a flavour of the drama and

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excitement we have in store for you over the next week. Extensive

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coverage starts on BBC Four on Tuesday night a 7.30pm. I'll be

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joined by Josie D'Arby throughout the week for all the backstage news

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together with a guest list of stars from the opera world who'll be

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offering their expert opinions and insights. Then the Grand Final.

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That is here on BBC Two, next Sunday, a week tomorrow, starting

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at 5.30pm. Do ut put the date in your diary.

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Two years ago the title went to Russian Soprano, Ekaterina

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Scherbachenko. Ekaterina was a great winner. She had everything, a

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great voice, a great communicating skill and as a by-product,

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tremendous beauty, but she was ready to fly. She was really ready

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to start to undertake really big engagements. That is an ideal time

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to be in the competition and, of course if you win it, that's the

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cherry on the cake. I have a lot of good memories about

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the time in Cardiff. It was a touring opportunity, it was a

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turning point in my career, in my life. I was really happy in that

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moment. Of course, after this competition,

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now I have a lot of work, a lot of engagements, I will sing in such

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beautiful, such great places like La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera in

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New York, the 2012 Glyndebourne Festival. I'm excited about it.

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This competition, it really is helpful for singers! It is really

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working! Less than two years on from her victory in Cardiff,

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Ekaterina is performing in Milan at one of the world's great opera

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houses. Right now we are in La Scala. Today is my last performance

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of turr Turandot here. The role of Liu is not new to

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Ekaterina. The slave girl's piece, is one the pieces she performed in

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the final. When I am singing it helps me with

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this engagement, "Signore Ascolta". It was always exciting. It was

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always great to feel that we are on the stage of La Scala, wow!

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Ekaterina is a hit in Milan. She is making her debut at the

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Metropolitan Opera in New York next year and appearing at the 2012

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Glyndebourne Festival. I wonder if you spotted the

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unmistakable figure of Dame Joan Sutherland. Presenting the trophy

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to Ekaterina two years ago. Sadly, it was the last of her appearances.

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Dame Joan Sutherland was hugely loved by the audiences here in

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Cardiff. She went on to be a juror in five consective competitions. In

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2003, she became Cardiff Singer's first patron. Sadly, she died last

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October. Dame Joan Sutherland had a career

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spanning nearly 45 years. She is widely regarded at the greatest

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coloratura soprano of her, or indeed of any generation.

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Dame Joan Sutherland was an extraordinary performer and an

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absolutely astonishing singer. She could turn her voice on a pin, you

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know, absolutely effortless flow of limb pid, liquid, gorgeous tone. I

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mean, it could not be beaten. It never has been beaten, in my view.

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She was one of the all-time greats. Instantly recognisable. Exciting.

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Bringing people to the edge of their seats because of the

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precision, the beauty of the sound, combined with the technical range

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of her voice. She was unique. She will go down in history. Despite

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poor health in recent years, Dame Joan Sutherland refused to miss her

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favourite event. After a fall, in 2008, in which she broke both legs

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she still insisted on taking her place at St David's Hall in the

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final of that year. A rising welcome for Dame Joan

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Sutherland. She was determined to take her place. A standing ovation

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for her. Dame Joan Sutherland, who will be

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greatly missed by us all. For the winner it can propel them

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onto the international stage. And if you like to keep an eye on the

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odds, the voice type most likely to succeed here in Cardiff is the

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Soprano. Of the 14 winners, half of them have been Soprano's. So we

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asked leading Welsh Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas to give us a guide

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to the bookies favourite! Soprano, the word comes from the Italian,

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Sopra, meaning above. This is the highest of the female voice types.

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Now, I may be biased, but I like to think that we get the best tunes.

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Thing of the magnificent Queen of the Night aria, or how about

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puecheena's glorious -- puecheen ee's glorious Ba binoCario.

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As with the other vocal categories, there are different types of

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soprano. There is the light soprano. The lyric soprano, they saing the

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heavier Mozart and bigger dramatic roles. The dramatic soprano

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dominates the Verdi. Then there is the one that gets the fireworks,

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the colour soprano. We sopranos may get the big tunes,

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but we still get it tough. There are more of us on the singing

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sirbity than any other voice type. Ekaterina Scherbachenko was up

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against many and half of the winners of the Cardiff Singer of

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the World 2011 have been sopranos. You see, we are too ordinary. There

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are ten sopranos taking part. Three from the American continent. Five

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from Europe. One from South Korea and one from

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New Zealand. We'll hear more from Elin later in

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the programme as she guides us through the different voice types

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taking part in this year's competition. But now let's meet

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three of this year's competitors and find out first hand what it

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means to be taking part in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. The

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singers representing Germany, Bulgaria and Romania are are based

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here in Milan. That great city of Italian opera.

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When I was a small girl. When I was young, because my family is in a

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singing position, my mother sang with me. As a smile child I started

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to sing in a children's choir when I was five, when I'm at home, I'm

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still singing with them, it was so beautiful.

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I started singing in the high school. I have the luck to meet a

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good teacher. He guided me well in this. Now I'm 26 years old and I'm

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happy to be here. I started singing when I was very

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young in a children's choir of the Bulgarian National Radio. We

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traveled all over the world. It was an amazing time for me. That is how

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I decided to become an opera singer. Five years ago I met my husband,

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who is an Italian conductor. So, I came here, I really love Italy. It

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is absolutely my second native land. I feel at home here.

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Serban came to Italy to perform, while Suzanne studies at the

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Academy of La Scala. All three are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to

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perform in Cardiff. There are so many great and

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talented singers in the whole world. Now I'm one of the 20 singers. It

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is unbelievable. I am so proud to take a part in this competition.

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is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know it will change my life, if

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even standing there it will change my life. Cardiff is the competition.

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I don't feel stressed or nervous. I just want to go and perform and

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enjoy. I'm really happy about it We will meet three more competitors

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in this year's competition later nonthe programme. Now, dedicated

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followers of Cardiff Singer of the World 2011 will know that the last

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time a Mezzo won here was Guang Yang from China. That was 14 years

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ago. Elin Manahan Thomas continues her

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look at the different voice types with the mezzo-soprano.

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In the term mezzo-soprano. Mezzo comes from the Italian for middle.

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It is the middle range for a female voice. Not as high as soprano, not

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as low as contralto. Mezzo have rich voices. The roles that they

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play make the most of this. Think of Bizet's karmen.

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Mezzo's often play what are called trouser roles in operas, in other

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words they play men. Mozart's Caribino is a favourite,

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but in the concert hall's of St David's Hall they still stick to

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wearing a dress. In this year's competition, mezzo-sopranos from

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Ireland, Russia and Australia will all try to take the title back home

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with them. As ever, there is a formidable jury

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for Cardiff Singer of the World 2011, the line up this year

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includes operatic legends like Marilyn Horne, Hakan Hagegard,

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Dennis O'Neil and for the first time, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. They

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will announce a winner at the end of prelimb Narey rounds, but then

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keep us guessing as to the line-up to the Grand Final. They will not

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say who the finalists are until the end of the last four preliminaries.

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So tension pretty much guaranteeed. Alongside the main competition

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there is the Song Prize. It has produced impressive winners itself.

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It also produced Wales' first singer, Bryn Terfel.

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The Song Prize presents a very different set of challenges.

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Song and opera are two distinct ways of performing, but they carry

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within them the same core that you have to get across. Both involve

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text, to get across the composing tensions, but perhaps with opera it

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is a broader brush. There is a whole Orchestra to compete with.

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With Recitals you can be finer with the details.

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It is quite rare to find a really good opera singer who also sings

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song, as it is a totally different medium. The stage is different, the

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music is different. The texts are different. You are dealing rather

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with a libretto, you are dealing I think it is great that Cardiff

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gives a platform for song. I it -- I this it is great for the

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audiences to hear this quite neglected platform.

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Five singers compete in the final of the Song Prize, you can see that

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on BBC Four next Saturday at 7.30pm. Before that, the prelimb Narey

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rounds start on Tuesday at 1.00pm. Now, here is Elin Manahan Thomas on

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The word tenor comes from the Italian te nera to hold.

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They still, "Hold" The best tunes. They often play the hero or the

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love interest. Arguably, the most famous aria in the world is for a

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:18:10.:18:17.

There are different types of tenor. The lyric tenor sings the more

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romantic music, the Spintow tenor takes on the slightly heavier roles.

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For bigger roles, mainly in Wagner, there is a helden tenor. There is

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also the distinctive sound of the English tenor.

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Andrew Kennedy, winner of the Song Prize in 2005. Despite their

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popularity with the audience, only one tenor has won the title in

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Cardiff. He was victorious of both the Song Prize and the main

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This year there is just one tenor taking part.

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Welsh tenor John Pierce is sure to have the Cardiff audience, firmly

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behind him. The warmth of the reception given

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to singers here at Cardiff Singer of the World 2011 really is one of

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the things that makes this competition so special. They are

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loved and cherished from the very moment they walk on to the St

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David's Hall stage. This year there will be loud cheers for the singers

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representing Ireland, England, and of course, Wales.

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I've always played the piano. I started playing the piano when I

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was 12. I did a lot of choral singing from the age of 14 as well,

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but I started to take up singing seriously at the age of 17.

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I realised I really wanted to become an opera singer when I was

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six. My father was playing an opera's greatest hits in the car. I

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realised that was all that I wanted to do from the age of six. I was

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actually a pianist first. I had never had a singing lesson before

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going off to college in Belfast. I wanted to work with children. So I

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studied psychology and music. Things went from there. I started

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studying, then I fell in love with it. Couldn't live with -- without

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I had to give it a go. My parents would play all of these great

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singers. Hearing them as a child they became a part of me, part of

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my blood. Now, 20 years on, when I am performing at Cardiff Singer of

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the World 2011, I feel like I'm carrying a piece of all of these

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amazing singers with me, because I have grown up with them.

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I think there is such a wealth of talent in Ireland. We are a very,

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very musical country. I certainly hope to represent that great

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musical talent if I can. I feel very proud to be

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representing Wales in this year's competition. I have always dreamed

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of being on that stage. I just can't believe it's actually

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happened this year, so! Since the competition started back in 1983

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singers have been accompanied by two Orchestras, the Orchestra of

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the Welsh National Opera and the BBC national Orchestra of Wales.

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Conducted this year by Lawrence Foster and Jac van Steen. For the

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orchestral players, they find it difficult not to become attached to

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their own singers. The Orchestras are always happy

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when one of their singers from one of rounds gets through to the final.

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They become propirate oral. We have our favourites and a sweeepstake.

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It is like a beauty pageant, we go by the countries.

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We pick a different singer, have a small bet on it, and whoever wins

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they get the money. We join in the competitive spirit of it.

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Many of the Orchestras have played in the Cardiff Singer of the World

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2011 since it began in 1983. Since the beginning it has proved itself

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adepartment at picking the winner. The minute that she walked on the

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stage, you felt this was a true diva. She came on with a big smile,

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a shocking pink frock and owned the stage before he is had song a note.

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I think that she all sang three notes. We looked at each other and

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said, "That's the one "What sticks out in my memory are the

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competitors from the Far East. Two of the Chinese competitors have

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:23:28.:23:37.

The first one to win was Guang Yang and then this amazing base baritone

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who won in his early 20s. The soprano from the United States,

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Nicole Cabelle, her performance was technically excellent. Very, very

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musical, the fact that she want on to win the competition outright was

:23:57.:24:02.

a great source of satisfaction to the members of the Orchestra,

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having accompanied here in the first round as she has gone on to

:24:05.:24:10.

do great things It is great that we all come together and are united in

:24:10.:24:14.

the competition. It is good to celebrate the fact that we have two

:24:14.:24:19.

great Orchestras in Cardiff. As well as the Orchestra members

:24:19.:24:24.

spotting their favourites, there is the chance for you to vote if your

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favourite sing ner the prelimb Narey rounds. This year, renamed

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the Dame Joan Sutherland Prize, in honour of the competition's late

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patron. I will give you details on how to vote on Friday night's

:24:40.:24:45.

programme, and they are on the website at bbc.co.uk/cardiffsinger.

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You can follow us via Facebook and Twitter. Now, it is time for the

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final of Elin Manahan Thomas's whistle stop tour of the singers.

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The base baritone has a long and distinguished career in this

:25:03.:25:07.

competition. The lowest male voices are bundled

:25:07.:25:11.

together in one category. That of base baritone, but there is a

:25:11.:25:15.

difference between them. The term baritone comes from the Greek

:25:15.:25:21.

meaning deep or heavy-sounding, but it is still the highest voice than

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the lower earth-shaingingly voice of the lower deeper base.

:25:31.:25:35.

Many singers class themselves as a base baritone, meaning that they

:25:35.:25:40.

sing the roles that sitcom fortably in the middle of the vocal range.

:25:40.:25:45.

That role could be kas Nova, the economic character or the villain.

:25:45.:25:48.

It was two different performances that led to perhaps the greatest

:25:48.:25:56.

Cardiff Singer of the World 2011 final of all time.

:25:56.:26:01.

-- that led to perhaps the greatest Cardiff Singer of the World of all

:26:01.:26:11.
:26:11.:26:17.

time. Two of the world's great baritones,

:26:17.:26:21.

DmitriVodorskvy, and Bryn Terfel, but will there be such a baritone

:26:21.:26:29.

this year? Three baritones compete, one from China, and a bass from

:26:29.:26:35.

Armenia. Apart from the 20 competitors, this BBC Cardiff

:26:35.:26:39.

Singer of the World 2011 also welcomes another knew, if rather

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familiar face, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. I met up to -- with her to ask her

:26:48.:26:54.

how she felt about the competition. It is sort of a little overwhelming

:26:54.:26:58.

for me, I adored Dame Joan Sutherland. I feel as though I was

:26:58.:27:03.

so lucky to be asked, privileged, to take over from her. I hope that

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I will do as good a job as she did. What is it about Cardiff Singer of

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the world that made you want to sit on the jury and be a patron? I this

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it is a wonderful, wonderful competition. First of all I was

:27:19.:27:24.

asked to sit on the jury. I was thrilled to be doing that. Then

:27:24.:27:30.

think asked me to be the patron, I thought are they going too far? I

:27:30.:27:32.

was overwhelmed. I thought it was wonderful.

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How important is it as a competition? It is very, very

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important to the singer. I wished I had had it when I was coming

:27:40.:27:43.

through it would have been fantastic, but it is such an

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opening. If they get there, they eare already well into a major

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career, I believe. It is the start of something, something great.

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Let me ask you about your relationship with competitions,

:27:55.:27:58.

they have been a very important part of your life? From a very

:27:58.:28:02.

early age I did competitions. While they were difficult to do, I look

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back, they were a huge part of my development

:28:04.:28:10.

What is it going to take to win BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011?

:28:10.:28:14.

Every amount of guts, intelligence, calm, the voice must be even,

:28:14.:28:19.

musical. We have to see a performance. We need to see what

:28:19.:28:23.

they are capable of, right there and then and that they will move on

:28:23.:28:28.

to the next stage of their life. It is not much to ask, is it?

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Listen, in the week ahead, I think that we can safely promise you

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drama, eemotion, excitement, passion, and perhaps a little

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controversy as well. Of course, the week that is filled -- filled with

:28:44.:28:51.

Petroc Trelawny looks forward to the coverage of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011. Twenty of the world's finest young opera singers come to Cardiff to compete in this biennial competition, each one hoping to walk away with the prestigious title.

This introduces some of this year's extraordinary vocal talent, finds out what has happened to 2009's winner Ekaterina Scherbachenko and hears from the competition's new patron Dame Kiri te Kanawa.


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