Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 26 September 2017

Gran Canaria unveils new young opera talents to the world at the final of VI Concurso Internacional de Canto Alfredo Kraus

Gran Canaria unveils new young opera talents to the world at the final of VI Concurso Internacional de Canto Alfredo Kraus

• The winners will be chosen on Friday 29 September, starting at 20.00 hours, from among the 60 contestants in the semi-final.
• The jury, chaired by Catalonian tenor Jaime Aragall, will announce the prize winners at a public performance with the Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by maestro Miguel Pérez-Sierra.
• Tickets for the final, to be held in the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, are on sale at www.auditorioteatrolaspalmasgc.es and www.auditorio-alfredokraus.com, and at ticket offices at the Auditorium and Teatro Pérez Galdós.

In the last two weeks Gran Canaria has become a world focus for young opera talent as it prepares to hold the final round of singing competition VI Concurso Internacional de Canto Alfredo Kraus, an initiative of Gran Canaria Cabildo (Island Council) and the Fundación Internacional Alfredo Kraus intended to discover young singers of opera and zarzuela. After the preliminary round on Gran Canaria and the semi-final, which ends on Tuesday 26 September, the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, in the island’s capital city, will be the venue on for the final of the competition on Friday 29 September at 20.00 hours, when the prize winners will be announced.

During a press conference held in the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, the President of the Gran Canaria Cabildo, Antonio Morales, the Chair of the Fundación Internacional Alfredo Kraus, Rosa Kraus Ley, and the members of the official jury of the VI CICAK, chaired by tenor Jaime Aragall, gave an overview of the competition rounds and explained the details of the final show devised by the artistic director of Fundación Internacional Alfredo Kraus, Mario Pontiggia.

The Symphonic Hall of the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus is the venue for the final and the prize giving, which will include a public audience. The competition finalists will be accompanied at this event by the Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by maestro Miguel Pérez-Sierra. Tickets for the final are on sale at www.auditorioteatrolaspalmasgc.es and www.auditorio-alfredokraus.com, and at ticket offices at the Auditorium and Teatro Pérez Galdós. The final will be recorded and transmitted in a delayed broadcast by Radio Televisión Canaria.

The finalists will be chosen from the semi-final round being held on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 September in the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus. Sixty candidates have made it to this stage: seven were chosen in the preliminary round held in Madrid; 12 were successful in Florence; nine were selected at the round in Gran Canaria on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 September; and 32 candidates gained direct entry after finishing as finalists in other international competitions, as allowed by the rules of the VI CICAK.

A total of 100 singers of 22 nationalities applied for the VI CICAK, considerably exceeding the number of entries in the five previous events. Applicants were from Angola, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Jaime Aragall to chair jury

The final decision of the VI CICAK will be made by a prestigious jury chaired by tenor Jaime Aragall. Born in Barcelona, Jaime Aragall began his studies in the city of his birth and completed them in Milan on a scholarship from Gran Teatro del Liceu. The young tenor debuted at La Fenice (Venice), and went on to perform in major theatres including La Scala (Milan), Opera di Roma, Regio di Parma, Arena di Verona, Carlo Felice (Genoa), Regio (Turin), San Carlo (Naples) and Massimo (Palermo). Jaime Aragall has appeared frequently during seasons at Barcelona’s Gran Teatro del Liceu and performed at Covent Garden (London), the Paris Opera, the New York Metropolitan Opera House, the Berlin Opera, the San Francisco Opera House, the Columbus Theatre (Buenos Aires), the Edinburgh Festival and the Festival of Orange, and the Vienna State Opera, where he was awarded the prestigious title of Kammersänger, previously bestowed on Alfredo Kraus.

With an extensive repertoire ranging from bel canto to works by Verdi, Puccini, Gounod and Massenet, Jaime Aragall has made many recordings including rare gems of opera, singing with the world’s leading opera performers.

Aragall has had a long relationship with Gran Canaria, having sung 11 operas in the Teatro Pérez Galdós, starting in 1974 when he took part in the ACO seasons in Faust and Manon. This was followed by La Bohème (1976), Lucia di Lammermoor and La Traviata (1977), Tosca, Adriana Lecouvreur and a Werther that was finally not performed (1979), Don Carlo and Madam Butterfly (1981), Simon Boccanegra (1989) and Un Ballo in Maschera (1991). In 2007 he received the Premio Ópera Actual award in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for his entire career, as well as an award from the Canary Islands Friends of the Opera for his career.

The members of the jury are Joan Matabosch, artistic director of Madrid’s Royal Theatre; Daniel Bianco, artistic director of the National Zarzuela Theatre (Madrid); Ernesto Palacio, artistic director of the Rossini Opera Festival (Pesaro); Pierangelo Conte, artistic coordinator of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino / Opera of Florence; César Wonenburger, artistic director of Friends of the Opera of A Coruña; Ulises Jaén, artistic director of Canary Islands Friends of the Opera; and honorary members Jerónimo Saavedra Acevedo and Guillermo García-Alcalde.

Prizes and invitations to perform

Participants in the VI Concurso de Canto Alfredo Kraus will be competing for substantial monetary prizes thanks to financial assistance from the Gran Canaria Cabildo. Three official prizes of 14,000, 12,000 and 10,000 euros will be awarded.

The special prizes include 3,000 euros from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Hall for the best singer of Spanish nationality and the Audience Prize of 2,500 euros for the singer who receives most votes from the audience attending the final round.

Contestants will also be eligible to receive invitations to perform. The Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra will invite the winner of the first prize to perform with it in one of the following two seasons (2018 or 2019), including travel and accommodation expenses; the Fundación Canaria Auditorio y Teatro de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria will invite one of the winners to give a recital in the Chamber Hall of the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, also with expenses paid; and Madrid Royal Theatre, National Zarzuela Theatre, Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro, the Opera of Florence, Friends of the Opera of A Coruña and Canary Islands Friends of the Opera will offer auditions for upcoming productions to one or more competition prize winners.

Medals designed by Gara Martín Kraus, the maestro’s granddaughter

In addition to the prize money and a diploma, the first three prize winners will receive a medal designed by Gara Martín Kraus, granddaughter of maestro Alfredo Kraus.

Gara began her studies in Jewellery and Gemology in Madrid in 1998 and completed them in Florence (Italy) in 2002, qualifying as a professional jewellery designer. She has been chosen to work on new collection projects for Swarovski, taken part in Ego Madrid Fashion Week and won a number of awards. Her collections are inspired by the landscapes, colours, textures and the essence of the Canary Islands. Her pieces transmit the energy and movement of the sea and of lava as it cools, and the colours and the beauty of the islands. All of these elements have also been the inspiration for the medals designed as prizes for the VI CICAK.

Candidates chosen in Madrid

The first preliminary round of VI CICAK 2017 was held on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 June in the theatre at the Madrid School of Singing. Sixteen applicants from five countries took part.

The seven contestants chosen by the judging panel were sopranos Berna Perles, Blanca Valido, María del Alba Moreno Chantar and Anna Niebla Guarinos from Spain and Olena Sloia from Ukraine; and mezzo-sopranos Olga Syniakova from Ukraine and Elizabeth Gillming from France.

The judging panel comprised the Chair of the Fundación Internacional Alfredo Kraus and the VI CICAK, Rosa Kraus Ley; the artistic director of the Singing Competition and the Foundation, Mario Pontiggia; the director of the Madrid School of Singing, Julio Alexis Muñoz, and the School’s deputy director, Sara Matarranz.

Candidates chosen in Florence

For the auditions of the second preliminary round of VI CICAK 2017, at the Opera of Florence, 26 candidates of seven nationalities applied. After 24 had performed (two stood down due to illness), the judges cast votes from two to nine points and considered applicants with a score of seven or more eligible to enter the semi-final round in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The 12 contestants chosen by the judges were Eunhee Kim (Soprano / South Korea), Tommaso Barea (Bass-baritone / Italy), Eleonora Bellocci, (Soprano / Italy), Hoerim Park (Tenor / South Korea), Benjamin Cho (Baritone / South Korea), Eduardo Pialli (Baritone / Colombia – Italy), Yauci Yanes (Tenor / Spain), Lena Kutzner (Soprano / Germany), Qianming Dou (Baritone / China), Cecilia Gaetani (Mezzo-soprano / Italy), Chiara Mogini (Soprano / Italy) and Manuel Rodríguez Remiro (Tenor / Spain).

The judging panel comprised Rosa Kraus Ley, Chair of Fundación Internacional Alfredo Kraus, and Mario Pontiggia, artistic director of the Foundation, and from the Opera of Florence, maestro Gianni Tangucci, coordinator of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Academy, and Giovanni Vitali, head of cultural promotion. The judges were joined by Laura Kraus Ley, member of Fundación Alfredo Kraus.

Candidates chosen in Gran Canaria

At the auditions held in Gran Canaria on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 September, the panel cast its vote and considered nine applicants eligible to go on to the semi-final round: Carlos Alberto Velázquez Acuña (Tenor / Mexico); Nina-Mario Fischer (Soprano / Germany-Poland); Jasper Leever (Bass-baritone / The Netherlands); Mónica Soto-Gil Castro (Mezzo-soprano / Mexico); Danae Eleni (Soprano / Greece); Sara Paone (Mezzo-soprano / Italy); Arisbe de la Barrera Ramírez (Soprano / Mexico); Clare Ghigo (Mezzo-soprano / Malta); and Jennifer Ramírez Díaz (Mezzo-soprano / Spain).

The judging panel, comprising the Chair of Fundación Internacional Alfredo Kraus and the VI CICAK, Rosa Kraus Ley, the Deputy Programming Director of Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, Manuel Benítez Rodríguez, and the artistic director of the Foundation and the VI CICAK, Mario Pontiggia, were responsible for the auditions of the applicants, who were accompanied by maestro Juan Francisco Parra, official pianist for the competition.

NOTE: Media wishing to cover the Final of the VI CICAK must have accreditation. To apply for accreditation, please send your details to press@cicakraus.com. Media wishing to conduct interviews may send requests to the same email address.

Press conference.

Press conference.

Press conference.

Press conference.

Press conference.

Press conference.

Photos by Angel Medina G.