Placido Domingo announces Operalia winners in Moscow
The annual Operalia competition, held this year in Moscow, concluded Sunday with a ceremony led by the organization's founder, Plácido Domingo. The first-prize winners were American tenor René Barbera and South African soprano Pretty Yende.
Operalia was founded in 1993 to give young, early-career singers exposure on an international scale. The competition is held in a different city each year.
Barbera, who is 27, hails from Texas. He won a total of three prizes on Sunday, including the men's first prize for opera, the men's prize for zarzuela and the audience favorite prize. Barbera is a frequent performer at the Lyric Opera in Chicago and was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2008.
Yende is a South African singer with Zulu heritage. The soprano earned the women's first prize for opera. Yende is scheduled to appear at La Scala in Milan next season in productions of "Aida" and "The Marriage of Figaro."
Rounding out the list of winners were soprano Olga Busuioc of Moldova and baritone Konstantin Shushakov of Russia, who won second prize; and tenor Jaesig Lee of South Korea and soprano Olga Pudova of Russia, who won third prize.
During Sunday's ceremony, Domingo received the Russian Order of Friendship for his work in cultural exchange.
Among this year's group of competitors was mezzo-soprano Erika Brookhyser, who trained at the L.A. Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program.
A number of past Operalia winners have gone on to achieve worldwide fame, including Rolando Villazón, Erwin Schrott and Joyce DiDonato.
-- David Ng
Photo: Placido Domingo performing in Beirut this month. Credit: AFP / Getty Images