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International opera competition comes to Mumbai this year

Feb 05, 2024 07:44 AM IST

Mumbai Operalia—one of the world’s biggest opera singing competitions—is coming to Mumbai’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) this September. Founded by world-famous Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, the competition has travelled to some of the world’s most celebrated venues

Mumbai Operalia—one of the world’s biggest opera singing competitions—is coming to Mumbai’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) this September. Founded by world-famous Spanish tenor Placido Domingo in 1993, the competition has travelled to some of the world’s most celebrated venues, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the Royal Opera House in London, and Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. For its 31st edition, Operalia travels to India for the first time. This year also marks the fourth time the competition takes place in Asia, after successful editions in Tokyo, Beijing and Astana.

International opera competition comes to Mumbai this year
International opera competition comes to Mumbai this year

“Operalia 2024 will not only be a milestone for the NCPA but for the entire [Indian] music community,” NCPA chairman Khushroo N Suntook told journalists at a small press conference on Thursday. “The event will certainly inspire young singers and musicians to pursue Western classical music and opera. It will be a privilege for the musicians of the Symphony Orchestra of India to be a part of this endeavour.”

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Widely considered the most prestigious competition for opera singers globally—alongside, perhaps, the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World—Operalia offers competitors a direct route to some of the world’s best opera houses. Past winners include Swedish dramatic soprano Nina Stemme, sometimes called the ‘greatest living Wagnerian soprano’; multiple Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; and Pretty Yende, the South African soprano who performed at the coronation of Charles III.

“My father founded Operalia as a way for young aspiring singers to be recognised for their talent by very important and influential people in the opera industry,” said Alvaro Domingo, the tenor’s son and vice-president of Operalia, adding that this year’s jury includes representatives from the Royal Opera House in London, Metropolitan Opera House in New York, Wiener Staatsoper in Vienna and Salzburg Festival, among others. “A finalist or winner at Operalia can now get a contract with important opera houses in London or Vienna in six months, or even three months.”

The week-long competition is open to singers between the ages of 20 and 32 from across the world, of all operatic voice types. Hundreds of entries are received each year, and the leading 30-40 singers get to audition before a panel of international opera personalities. This year, the chosen finalists will perform at the NCPA accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of India—the country’s only professional orchestra—with Placido Domingo taking on the role of conductor.

“It is very special for me to return to Mumbai after many years away, a city where I made my debut singing a concert in 2008 conducted by my dear friend Maestro Zubin Mehta,” Domingo said in a press statement. “I look forward to reuniting with the Indian public in the fall.”

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