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Russians take top prizes at Domingo's Operalia contest

August 6, 2009 | 10:57 am


The annual Operalia competition is one of the most cherished personal projects of Plácido Domingo, who has seemingly built an entire side career out of seeking and championing young, aspiring opera stars.

Held this year in Hungary, Operalia concluded Saturday with the top prizes going to Russian singers soprano Julia Novikova and tenor Alexey Kudrya.

Two Americans received the second-prize slot -- soprano Angel Blue and bass Jordan Bisch -- along with tenor Dimitrios Flemotomos of Greece. (Blue and Flemotomos shared the top Zarzuela prize, given for a specialized form of Spanish operetta.)

Four performers shared third place: soprano Auxiliadora Toledano of Spain, soprano Anita Watson of Australia, bass-baritone Kostas Smoriginas of Lithuania and bass Wenwei Zhang of China.

Domingo, who serves as the general director of L.A. Opera, said in a statement that this year's field of 44 contestants was narrowed from 904 applicants. The first-place winners receive $30,000 each.

Among the 13 judges this year were Marta Domingo (Plácido's wife); Jonathan Friend, artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera; Jean-Luc Choplin, general director of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; and Ioan Holender, director of the Vienna State Opera.

Previous Operalia winners who have gone on to international careers include Rolando Villazon, Erwin Schrott, Joyce DiDonato and Elizabeth Futral.

Keep reading for the complete list of this year's Operalia winners. ...

1st Prize:
Julia Novikova, soprano -- Russia
Alexey Kudrya, tenor -- Russia

2nd Prize:
Angel Blue, soprano -- USA
Jordan Bisch, bass -- USA
Dimitrios Flemotomos, tenor -- Greece

3rd Prize:
Auxiliadora Toledano, soprano -- Spain
Anita Watson, soprano -- Australia
Kostas Smoriginas, bass-baritone -- Lithuania
Wenwei Zhang, bass -- China

Zarzuela Prizes:
Angel Blue, soprano -- USA
Dimitrios Flemotomos, tenor -- Greece

Prize of the Audience:
Julia Novikova, soprano -- Russia
Dimitrios Flemotomos, tenor -- Greece

Prize CulturArte -- Bertita & Guillermo Martinez:
Arnold Rutkowski, tenor -- Poland

Special Prize offered by the Hugarian State Opera:
Alexey Kudrya, tenor -- Russia

Special Prize offered by the City of Budapest:
Auxiliadora Toledano, soprano -- Spain

Special Prize offered by the City of Pécs:
Kostas Smoriginas, bass-baritone -- Lithuania

Photo: Plácido Domingo, with first-prize winners Julia Novikova and Alexey Kudrya. Credit: Via Izvestia