Cardiff Singer of the World, 2011 – Valentina Nafornita

After an extraordinarily high-powered week of fantastic singing, a winner finally emerged at St David’s Hall on Sunday:  Valentina Naforniţă from Moldova is the 2011 Cardiff Singer of the World.

Immensely talented and radiantly charismatic, with a lovely crystalline voice, Valentina managed to win over the judges despite some nerves in performance (confidentially, the best performance of the week was her rehearsal in the afternoon — smiling, confident, nothing held back, no trace of nerves then).  She sang Donizetti (from Lucia di Lammermoor), Dvořák (Rusalka’s Song to the Moon), and Gounod (‘Je veux vivre’ from Roméo et Juliette).

The audience (at home and in the hall) loved her too – she got the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize as well.

I really wasn’t sure she was going to make it, with critical opinion seeming to back the Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko.  In fact all the singers in the final could have been worthy winners – including Meeta Raval for England, who had a flawless technique, big sound, and generous and heartfelt delivery.  Kudos too to mezzo Olesya Petrova from Russia, who delivered a great programme including Ulrica’s chilling invocation from Un ballo in maschera.  Maybe Carmen’s Habañera wasn’t quite her thing though.

Wearing my subtitling hat, I was able to observe all 20 singers throughout the week and there were almost no duds… A privilege to have been part of it and a great week to remember.

Watch out for Valentina Naforniţă (and try and find those accents in your font set! – perhaps she’ll need to change her name).  A true star in the making – and she’s only 24, and hardly out of the chorus…

Here’s a link to a video clip from her winning performance:

(Explore the BBC Cardiff Singer website for more clips)

picture from WalesOnLine

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