More than 1,200 young and talented singers from 60 nations have sent off their application for the 11th International Singing Competition "Neue Stimmen" organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Above all, there has been an increase in the number of applicants from the other side of the Atlantic: with almost 100 applications from the USA, the number of applicants has more than doubled since 2003. In Argentina, the home of the winner of the 10th "Neue Stimmen" competition, Franco Fagioli, the number of applications rose to 65. "Franco Fagioli, a countertenor, is currently being heralded by the audience at the Zurich Opera House in Händel’s 'Giulio Cesare' together with Cecilia Bartoli. This is proof that our competition has become a decisive springboard for the careers of young, talented opera singers", rejoiced Liz Mohn, Vice-Chair of the Bertelsmann Stiftung and President of the competition. This year two-thirds of the singers have registered via the website www.neue-stimmen.de.
The final round of the "Neue Stimmen" competition will be taking place in Gütersloh from October 17th-22nd, 2005 with Gérard Mortier, Director of the Opéra National de Paris as chairman of the jury. Co-organizer of the competition is the German broadcasting station 'Westdeutscher Rundfunk' (WDR), and the 1st prize carries a cash award of 10,000 euros.
The worldwide pre-selection of "Neue Stimmen" will be starting in Yokosuka, Japan in mid-May, and the preliminary rounds will be hosted in a total of 21 locations until September: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Cape Town, London, Milan, Moscow, Munich, New York, Paris, Peking, Porto, Riga, Santiago de Chile, Sofia, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vilnius and Warsaw. Brian Dickie, General Director of the Chicago Opera Theater, and the conductor Gustav Kuhn, President of the Tirolean Festival Erl, will be selecting up to 50 contestants who will go forward to the final round in Gütersloh.
Besides Gérard Mortier, Gustav Kuhn and Brian Dickie members of the jury include: Kammersänger Francisco Araiza, Professor at the College of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart; Anthony Freud, General Director of the Welsh National Opera and Chairman of the jury "Cardiff Singer of the World" competition; Kammersänger Siegfried Jerusalem, Director of the College of Music Nuremberg-Augsburg; Jürgen Kesting, music critic and author; Bernd Loebe, General Director of the Opera Frankfurt; Kammersängerin Edith Mathis, Professor at the College of Music and Performing Arts Vienna as well as concert singer Edith Wiens, Professor at the College of Music Nuremberg-Augsburg and at the College of Music and Theatre Munich.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s singing competition is considered to be one of the most important events for talented young opera singers internationally. The "Neue Stimmen" competition has paved the way to national and international stardom for numerous young artists, including Vesselina Kasarova, René Pape, Nathalie Stutzmann, Noemi Nadelmann, Roman Trekel, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Melanie Diener, Dietrich Henschel and Angelika Kirchschlager.