To set the mood for what promises to be a very attractive musical week, DEBUT Concerts will open its doors a few days before for an 11 a.m. matinee on Sunday, September 16, 2018 in the Small Kursaal in Bad Mergentheim. Professor Ulrich Konrad of the University of Würzburg’s Department of Musicology will chair a round table on the subject of “Singing! Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow”. The audience will have a chance to become directly involved in his discussion with Enrico Calesso, Music Director of the Main-Franconia Theater in Würzburg, and Konstantin Heuer, composer of the contemporary lieder for DEBUT 2018.
Standard continues to rise
The verdict following the three-day selection marathon in the WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory was unanimous: the trend towards significantly higher-quality applications in all categories is unbroken. “The standard this year is very high. We’re now hoping, of course, that all of the participants selected by us will accept our invitation, so that the judging panel – not to mention the audience – will be treated to the same great moments that we experienced when drawing up the shortlist,” says Clarry Bartha. Together with Christiane Libor, she not only listened to the arias and lieder submitted by hundreds of candidates “non-stop”; she also assessed each artist’s performance in a search for that certain something.
Both Bartha and Libor are naturally very experienced, and they have come to know and appreciate each other in the course of several previous competitions. There was often a consensus between them after hearing only the first few notes. Clarry Bartha sums it up as follows: “Sometimes everything just fits together: the notes are perfect and the manner of the performance – the entire personality – quite simply moves and touches us.”
Participants from 14 nations
During the final week (September 23 to 29), the 25 female and 20 male singers who have now been selected, and who come from all over the world, will no longer be performing “canned” music but “live in technicolor”: the list is headed by sopranos with 17 participants, followed by 7 mezzo-sopranos, 1 alto, 6 tenors, 4 countertenors, 8 baritones and 2 basses. These 45 young people will be representing 14 different nations – from Germany, the “host country”, (16) through South Korea (7), Poland (2), Austria (3), Belgium (2), China (2), France (3), Russia (3) and the USA (2) to Greece, New Zealand, Switzerland, Slovakia and Ukraine (1 each).
The competition week at a glance
The competition will be held in Weikersheim and Bad Mergentheim (Main-Tauber district, Germany). It will begin in earnest for all 45 singers who have been invited to take part on Monday, September 24, 2018, when the qualifying rounds and the semifinal will take place over a three-day period in the Arsenal of Weikersheim Castle. Accommodation for the young opera singers will likewise be provided on the premises of Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland (JMD) and the Weikersheim Castle Music Academy. Both the qualifying rounds on the Monday and Tuesday and the semifinal on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 will be open to the public at no cost.
The venue for this year’s lieder recital at 7:30 p.m. 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. Tickets for the price of 20 euros can be purchased from the Spa Administration Office (Kurverwaltung) from mid-August or from the Competition Office in Weikersheim (Marktplatz 12) starting on September 24.
The competition will end with a gala concert to be given by the finalists in the Wandelhalle, Bad Mergentheim, on September 29, 2018, when Professor Christa Ludwig (Kammersängerin and patron of DEBUT 2014) will be guest of honor. The finalists will be accompanied by the Würzburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Enrico Calesso. As usual, the evening – which for the first time will be hosted by Felix Seibert-Daiker – will come to a fitting conclusion with the announcement of the winners and the presentation of various lucrative prizes. The gala concert will be recorded by SWR2 and broadcast at 8 p.m. on Sunday, September 30.
In addition to a sculpture especially designed by Viennese artist Professor Ernst Fuchs (1930-2015) and donated by Kunstgießerei Strassacker, the internationally renowned bronzecasting company, the winners of the Golden, Silver and Bronze Victorias will receive prizes of 10,000, 5,000 and 2500 euros respectively as well as invitations to appear in concerts. The competition is also endowed with further cash prizes as well as opportunities for public performances.