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Norsk | English

It's not just about "pretty singing"

Published by Mie Inchley

The screening jury has once again had the very challenging task of choosing this year's contestants. "The trend from the last Competition has intensified, and we saw a large group of well qualified applicants", says jury leader Svein Bjørkøy.

Svein Bjørkøy, who himself made his debut as a tenor at The Norwegian Opera in 1980 and who has been a professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music since 1999, would have liked to admit more of this year's 223 applicants. 41 singers made it through. 

"It is quite a demanding task. When the level is as high as this, the evaluation becomes more about personal preferences. The group could have been significantly larger if we had more places in the Competition to give out. We could have had a lot more contestants and still held a high level". 

It's not just about "pretty singing"

How do you evaluate the candidates?

"To evaluate the level is a tricky business. The repertoire is largely tied to opera, so we choose voices with a quality and musicality which is suited to opera. It's not just about "pretty singing". At the same time we evaluate other qualities which are necessary for an opera singer, both when it comes to the voice and the ability to depict a role in a credible way. To be able to form a character is important. 

Is it hard to evaluate the singers from the application videos alone?

"You always experience a few surprises when they sing live. Some have worked very well to produce the very best recording of themelves. Others have not put in as much effort. When it comes to the Competition itself, the deliveries can end up being different than expected. Often the surprise is on the positive side. A video doesn't tell the whole story, and it doesn't depict the timbre exactly or how far the voice carries. 

How is the level compared to earlier Competitions? 

"The trend from the last Competition has intensified. We had a lot of good candidates in 2013 as well. We see a positive development when it comes to the level of the contestants. I can absolutely say that the Competition is on a very high level, without exaggerating. The level has also become more even. There are more at the top, as in on the highest level compared to age and what you can expect from young singers. 

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