DEBUT Classical Singing Competition 2018 invites worldwide applicants

April 3, 2018 was the official opening date for applications to take part in the 9th DEBUT Classical Singing Competition 2018

The DEBUT Classical Singing Competition is a prestigious international event which aims to support young opera singers. Now in its 9th staging, this year’s competition is open for the first time to singers from all over the world. Clarry Bartha, DEBUT’s Artistic Director, is keen to provide all young singers of opera music aged 32 (female) or 34 (male) or under with an opportunity to perform in front of an international judging panel.

For several years now, the DEBUT competition, first staged in 2002, has attracted considerable international attention in the opera world. The concept and idea formulated by Dr. Manfred Wittenstein (sponsor, initiator and Chairman of the WITTENSTEIN SE Supervisory Board) have prevailed: the competition has become established as a unique contribution to the classical music scene, forging an unusual but highly successful link between industry, technology and culture. In 2018, the organizers are once again expecting numerous applications from Germany and – for the first time – worldwide; after all, DEBUT has proven itself as a launching pad for up-and-coming young singers embarking on an international career. Olga Peretyatko, runner-up at DEBUT 2006, is today one of the most sought-after sopranos in the world and currently (April and May 2018) has an engagement at the New York MET.

The application criteria
Held every second year, the competition is open to talented newcomers (age limit: 32 for women and 34 for men) representing the following voice types: soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, countertenor, baritone and bass.

The deadline for submitting applications is June 30, 2018. The competition is endowed with cash prizes as well as opportunities for public performances.

The patrons
Professor Barbara Bonney, who lives in Salzburg, has been announced as patron for the 2018 competition together with Carl Martin Welcker, President of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA).

Professor Barbara Bonney has appeared at major opera houses and the most prestigious concert halls the world over. Her wide-ranging discography comprises sacred music by Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert. She has recorded in total 15 solo albums of art songs. A regular presenter for the BBC, she has acted as “expert opinion” during the Cardiff Singer Competition. She also appears in documentaries and gives “Masterclasses for Amateurs” as well as for aspiring professionals, several of which have been broadcast on BBC television or in the US and Japan.

Miss Bonney is a recipient of five honorary doctorate degrees; she is also a member of the prestigious Swedish Academy of Music and an honorary citizen of the Mozarteum, Salzburg (Austria). She was additionally awarded an honorary doctorate by the Brucknerhaus concert hall in Linz in September 2009. Barbara Bonney is currently a Professor at the Mozarteum University Salzburg.

The judging panel
One reason for DEBUT’s remarkably high standard is that it gives young opera singers (age limit: 34 for men and 32 for women) a rare opportunity to appear in a competition with a strong international profile before such a distinguished judging panel. This year’s panel will be chaired by Professor Harald Stamm (Kammersänger). All of the judging panel members are eminent players in the classical music scene. The winners will receive their awards on September 29, 2018.

The judging panel will be composed of the following experts:

  • Professor Harald Stamm (Kammersänger), Chairman, Berlin
  • Professor Barbara Bonney, soprano, Salzburg
  • Professor Christiane Libor, soprano, Karlsruhe
  • Katja Schaefer, Secretary General of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts
  • Dietmar Schwarz, General Manager of the German National Opera House, Berlin
  • Luca Targetti, In Art Management, Milan
  • Ralf Tiedemann, Editor in Chief, “Das Opernglas” magazine, Hamburg
  • Professor Gerd Uecker, former Manager of the Semperoper opera house in Dresden

The DEBUT lieder
DEBUT 2018 will give even greater prominence to lieder as a separate art form than in previous years.

Lieder are considered to be an integral element of sustainable training in classical singing. To enable due recognition to also be shown to this particular art form in a competition context, the composer Konstantin Heuer, born in Leipzig in 1989, has composed a lieder especially for DEBUT 2018, which will be part of the compulsory repertoire for all semifinalists. Two lieder prizes will be awarded during the public DEBUT lieder recital: “Best Performance of a Contemporary Lieder” and “Best Performance of a German / French Lieder”.

For the first time, the venue for the lieder recital on September 27, 2018, and the presentation of the lieder prizes, will be the “Red Hall” in the Deutschordensschloss (Castle of the Teutonic Order) in Bad Mergentheim. Six young opera singers will be nominated by the jury in this category. 

The competition week
The competition will be held in Weikersheim and Bad Mergentheim (Main-Tauber district, Baden-Württemberg / Germany). Both the qualifying rounds and the semifinal will take place in the Arsenal of nearby Weikersheim Castle from September 24 to 26, 2018. Accommodation for participants will be provided there during the competition week on the premises of Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland (JMD) and the Weikersheim Castle Music Academy.

The competition will end with a gala concert to be given by the finalists in the Wandelhalle, Bad Mergentheim, on September 29, 2018. Accompanied by the Würzburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Enrico Calesso, the selected finalists will face the judging panel one more time.

As another first, the gala concert will be hosted by 34 year-old Felix Seibert-Daiker. For the journalist and anchorman of “FAKT”, a current affairs program on ARD television, this is an undisputed “home game”: he grew up in the spa town of Bad Mergentheim. After MC’ing more than 250 galas and other events, he can already draw on considerable experience. “The stage is a great place to be. There’s no safety net and plenty of spontaneity,” he says.

The competition
The DEBUT competition has forged a link between industry, technology and culture since 2002. It manages without any form of public funding and as such is completely independent. It was initiated by Dr. Manfred Wittenstein, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of WITTENSTEIN SE: “We conceived it as a special gift – to ourselves and to the broader community to which we belong. Particularly engineering companies like the WITTENSTEIN Group derive their strength from highly creative minds.” The “Victoria” sculptures which will be presented to the three winners are truly distinctive objects. They were exclusively designed for DEBUT by the late Viennese artist Professor Ernst Fuchs (1930-2015).

1. Professor Barbara Bonney – patron of the 9th DEBUT Classical Singing Competition 2018
2. Felix Seibert-Daiker will preside over the gala concert in his home town of Bad Mergentheim.
3. The “DEBUT” logo