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Queen Elisabeth competition: the list of twelve finalists was well received, but badly hides big disparities

All chauvinism drunk, the selection of the twelve finalists does not include any major surprises, neither present nor absent. Silvia Sequeira, Jasmin White, Floriane Hasler or Taehan Kim in particular, who made a strong impression in the semi-finals, will be, barring a surprising poor performance, in contention for the final podium. With others of course, as it is true that the performance of finals – with orchestra, and no longer with piano – is an experience quite different from that of the first two rounds: some can reveal themselves there, others on the contrary. may disappoint.

Queen Elisabeth competition: no Belgians among the finalists

Surprise, there will also be because some will completely change their tune in the musical genres covered. Candidates that members of the jury (not all of them were in the first round) only heard melodies in the semi-finals will start singing opera, sometimes even exclusively. Indeed, if a small majority of finalists (Brockway, Gwon, Kim, Muzychenko, Roussel, Warenberg and White) will arrive with a mixed program, that is to say an opera program mixed with a few melodies, the other five (Hasler, Jeong, Mey, Neher and Sequeira) will only sing opera. For the three days of finals from June 1 to 3, no less than 40 opera arias and 9 melodies will have to be prepared by Alain Altinoglu and his musicians from the La Monnaie symphony orchestra. No oratorio arias will be asked of them, however, which must be a first.

Finalists of the Queen Elisabeth Competition
The finalists of the Queen Elisabeth Competition ©Concours Reine Elisabeth

To tell the truth, as underlined in these columns two days ago, the Queen Elisabeth Competition is no longer a general singing competition, but it does not dare to advertise itself as an opera competition either. Hence this somewhat awkward rating, where candidates are required to sing, in front of a jury largely made up of opera managers, at least one opera aria in the first round and in the final, but none in the semi-finals. finals.

Another feeling of surprise: rarely as much as this year, the Competition will have opposed such young candidates on one side and much older on the other. Taehan Kim and Juliette Mey were born in 2000, the ten other finalists are between 27 and 31 years old. Some of the latter, like the soprano Julia Muzychenko-Greenhalgh, already have careers that have taken them to some of the great European operatic stages. Is the singing market so competitive that it is necessary, at over thirty years old, to still compete in competitions?

Queen Elisabeth Competition: the programs, with or without opera pieces in them?

That said, the semi-finals will have been an opportunity to discover artists, but also sometimes repertoire: Margaret Bond, Amy Beach, Pauline Viardot, particular care has been taken by some candidates to rehabilitate forgotten composers. The Competition, which seems won over by a certain form of wokism to the point of having made the nationalities of the singers disappear from its programme, would it not be better advised to impose that each program consist of works composed by musicians from different genres?

One more word to pay tribute to the work of the guides, whether the five “officials” (made available to the candidates by the Competition) or the others (brought in their luggage by certain candidates). Even if some may have seemed more inspired than others, all deserve a tip of the hat.

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