BBC Cardiff Singer of the World returns in 2021 for its 20th edition, celebrating exciting new international operatic talent in June

Every round on BBC Four, with programmes also available on BBC Two Wales, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC iPlayer

Saturday 12 – Saturday 19 June

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, one of the most prestigious competitions in classical music, returns to showcase 16 of the most outstanding rising stars of international opera and song on BBC TV, radio and iPlayer in 2021.

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2021 – staged without an audience in strict compliance with the latest health and safety government guidelines related to COVID-19 – takes place at St David’s Hall from Saturday 12 to Saturday 19 June.

Now in its 20th edition, the biennial competition has launched the careers of some of the biggest opera stars, such as Karita Mattila, Elīna Garanča, Anja Harteros, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Bryn Terfel, Jamie Barton and 2019 winner baritone Andrei Kymach from Ukraine.

Audiences can follow all the drama of the competition – including all the rounds of the main prize, the song prize final and the main prize final on BBC Four television, as well as broadcasts on BBC Two Wales, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, all available on BBC iPlayer – with TV coverage produced by BBC Studios Music and Entertainment Cardiff.

This year’s event features singers from 15 countries including: Austria; China; Denmark; England; Georgia; Iceland; Mongolia; Republic of Korea; Russia; South Africa; USA; Venezuela; Wales; and, represented for the first time, Madagascar and Republic of Kosovo.

With an average age of 29, the competitors have made it through three selection stages from a record-breaking number of applications, with Ingrid Surgenor – senior coach at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and National Opera Studio, London, and official Cardiff Singer of the World accompanist for nearly twenty years – and former Artistic Director of Swansea Festival Lyndon Jones selecting the initial 75 candidates. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World patron, and Nicholas Payne, director of the leading professional opera association in Europe, were tasked with whittling down the applications to 45 singers, who were then shortlisted by Head of Opera and Vocal Performance at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Angela Livingstone, former Casting Director of Welsh National Opera Isabel Murphy, and award-winning record producer and voice expert Jeremy Caulton – with virtual auditions for all selection rounds.

The 16 singers will all be competing for the ultimate crown of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, as well as the Song Prize.

The main jury is chaired by General Director of Welsh National Opera Aidan Lang, and includes two celebrated stars of the opera world: Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies and US soprano Roberta Alexander. Accompanying the singers in their opera performances are two of the most prestigious Welsh orchestras: Welsh National Opera with conductor Michael Christie and BBC National Orchestra of Wales led by Andrew Litton (both in reduced numbers to allow required social distancing).

The Song Prize, in which the competing singers present Lieder and art songs accompanied by internationally-renowned pianists Llŷr Williams and Simon Lepper, are judged by the Chair, Wigmore Hall’s Artistic and Executive Director John Gilhooly, along with Neal Davies and Roberta Alexander. These more intimate performances take place at the Dora Stoutzker Hall of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, with the Song Prize Final happening at St David’s Hall.

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is organised by BBC Cymru Wales in association with Welsh National Opera and is supported by Cardiff Council.

Artistic Director of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World David Jackson said: “BBC Cardiff Singer of the World has long been a vital launchpad for world-class singers at the beginning of their careers, and after one of the most difficult years for all performers this is more true than ever. We hope that this year’s edition will be a beacon of hope for all young singers – those competing and those possibly watching from home – as we show our support for up-and-coming artists, provide a much-needed showcase for their extraordinary talent and revel for a few days in live music-making of the very highest order.”

BBC Director of Factual, Arts and Classical Music Patrick Holland said: “BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is a highlight of the classical calendar and I’m delighted that BBC Four will once again be the home for this brilliant competition on television. I’d like to thank all the performers and the fantastic production team for making this year’s event possible given the hugely challenging circumstances.”

Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning Jan Younghusband said: “Throughout the pandemic, the BBC has been committed to lifting the spirits of audiences at home, providing world-class performance and arts, broadcast straight to people’s screens and radios. BBC Cardiff Singer of the World promises to be a highlight in this, showcasing the great voices of exceptionally talented young performers, while also providing a springboard for their careers.”

BBC Cymru Wales Director, Content and Services, Rhuanedd Richards said: “Making BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2021, in the current circumstances and after the most complicated year across the performing arts sector, is a powerful display of hope and collaboration. We are delighted to broadcast the competition to people’s homes from Cardiff, and proud that the Welsh capital will be the epicentre of such an exciting and inspiring few days for lovers of classical music all around the country.”

Further info on BBC Cardiff Singer of the World can be found online:

Twitter: @cardiffsinger