“Opera is a beautiful but at the same time very complicated and even cruel world to live in,” writes Mateusz Wisniewsky, the Competition Manager of the new First International Antonina Campi Vocal Competition in Lublin, Poland. Named after a famous Polish singer born in Lublin, the competition will make its auspicious debut Feb. 7-10.
Wisniewsky and one of Poland’s great sopranos, Ewa Vesin, both well-aware of the vagaries of the art form as well as its challenging bureaucratic aspects, put their heads together to come up with a project that was designed to help young singers in a tough-as-nails industry.
After world-wide auditions in the last few months, 50 young singers, representing 13 countries: Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia, Germany, France, Norway, Poland, Sweden, South Korea and China, were chosen to compete in the first stage of the Competition. The first stage is on Feb 7 and 8, the second stage is Feb. 9, and the grand finals on Feb. 10.
The three top money prizes are 15,000/10,000/5,000 PLN and the Antonia Campi Prize for the Best Song (5,000PLN) and the Best Pianist Prize (5,000 PLN). Other awards include the Hungarian State Opera’s Artistic Director’s Special Prize (a concert booking in Budapest), the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Director Special Prize (a concert booking in Bialystok).
All activities from the preliminaries to the final concert are open to the public, and held in Lublin’s Centrum Spotkania Kultur (CSK – Centre for the Meeting of Cultures). The orchestra for the winners’ concert is the Orkiestra Akademii Beethovenowskiej (Beethoven Academy Orchestra) under the baton of maestro Yannis Pouspourikas, who is a member of the jury and who will make his Polish debut on the podium.
Competition judges are Brenda Hurley (International Opera Studio, Zurich, Switzerland), Michael Gruber (Opera4U), Ferenc Anger (Hungarian State Opera), Eyten Pessin (Voice Professor), Pouspourikas (Essen Opera, and Vesin (Singer, Culture Manager). Pianists include Justyna Skoczek and Marcin Koziel.
Soprano Campi (née Miklaszewicz) (1773-1822) was a native of Lublin and enjoyed a career than spanned Europe, singing lead roles in major opera houses. Her coloratura soprano was well-known to be one of Mozart’s favorites, and he composed one of his bravura arias for her. The importance of her legend in Poland was one of the critical points of impetus for Wisniewsky and singer/cultural manager Vesin (a native of Lublin) to create this competition.
Wisniewsky, who has also attended productions in the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest, calls this project near to his heart. Although not schooled in music or singing, he was smitten with opera from the first moment he stepped on stage as a supernumerary (a silent role) while he was a student. He became devoted to the art form and went on to write his PhD thesis of translations of Czech and Polish opera libretti.
Asked about the process of establishing something so prominent in Lublin, he wrote in an email interview: “I think the most essential thing in this job is to find right people. Most of those who are responsible for culture in Poland usually just don’t care…Time goes by and sometimes they produce an interesting event and sometimes they don’t…The team of the CSK is openminded and the general director is not afraid of the risk, trying to propose something more, new, creative, while he’s [under no obligation]. Our mission in this event is to give people a chance – to be seen and heard, to let them be inspired by other singers, to network and improve their skills, so mainly – to help them.”
Let the competition begin! Details here: http://www.antonina.campi.