Competition Winners 2010


1st Prize - Pumeza Matshikiza, soprano (South Africa)


Lyric soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, described by the Independent as "one of today's most exciting new operatic voices", is one of a new generation of emerging opera stars from South Africa.

Pumeza studied at the University of Cape Town College of Music under Professor Virginia Davids, before continuing her studies at the Royal College of Music under the tutelage of Michel Vallat as a Peter Moores, Pidem, and Derek Butler Trust Scholar.

Pumeza then became a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists' Programme at the Royal Opera House for the 2007/8 and 2008/9 seasons, and, in January 2010, won First Prize in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition. She is also an Associate Artist of the Classical Opera Company.

Highlights include Ännchen Der Freischütz, Susanna Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina Don Giovanni and Pamina Die Zauberflöte at the Stuttgart State Opera, where Pumeza has been a member of the ensemble for the past two seasons. Prior to this, Pumeza made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, singing the role of Flower maiden in Parsifal. While a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists' Programme, she also sang the roles of Slave Salome, Innocent The Minotaur, Tebaldo Don Carlos, Witch Dido and Aeneas and Sandman Hänsel und Gretel.

Pumeza has also sung the title role in Zaide for the Classical Opera Company, for which she won the Patrick Fyffe-Dame Hilda Brackett prize, and Vendulka in Smetana's The Kiss for Wexford Festival. At the Stuttgart State Opera, she has also sung Nanetta Falstaff and Mimì La Boheme.

On the concert platform, Pumeza has performed at the Wigmore Hall and, with Julius Drake, performed recitals in Leicester, at the London Jewish Cultural Centre and at the Queille Festival, France. Pumeza has also sung at Graignamanagh in Ireland and worked with accompanists Malcolm Martineau and Simon Lepper.

Previous roles at the RCM include Marenka The Bartered Bride, Fiordiligi Così fan tutte, Rosalinde Die Fledermaus, Concepción L'Heure espagnole, Poppea L'incoronazione di Poppea and Contessa Le nozze di Figaro. Pumeza has participated in masterclasses with artists such as Philip Langridge, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Renata Scotto, Joan Rogers, Paul Farrington and Ileana Cotrubas.

Pumeza Matshikiza records exclusively for Decca Classics and is represented worldwide by Intermusica.


2nd Prize- Sarah-Jane Brandon, soprano (South Africa)


Winner of the 2009 Kathleen Ferrier Award, soprano Sarah-Jane Brandon studied at the Benjamin Britten International Opera School at the Royal College of Music, and was a participant in the 2011 Salzburg Festival's Young Singers Project.

On the opera stage she has sung Micäela Carmen for the Deutsche Oper, Berlin; Contessa Le nozze di Figaro for Glyndebourne, Opéra de Dijon and the Opera-Theatre de Saint-Etienne; Pamina in a new production of Die Zauberflöte for the Opéra de Nice; Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, and Desdemona in a new production of Otello for the Cape Town Opera.

Her recent concert engagements include Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; Viennese Gala Concerts with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Rösner; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Sir Roger Norrington; her debut at the Concertgebouw with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Benjamin Zander performing Mahler's 2nd Symphony; and at the Teatro Real, Madrid with Jane Glover and the Mark Morris Dance Group in Handel’s L’Allegro.

Further highlights include Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner; Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sylvain Cambreling, and appearances at the Edinburgh Festival with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis; the Mozarteum Orchestra and Ivor Bolton; the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Kurt Masur; the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Andris Nelsons, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with Vasily Petrenko and with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Bernard Haitink.

In recital her appearances include Trinity College Cambridge and the Leeds Lieder Festival with Malcolm Martineau; the Musée d'Orsay and Birmingham's Barber Institute with Simon Lepper and the Wigmore Hall and the Buxton, Hay-on-Wye, Chester and Oxford Lieder Festivals with Gary Matthewman. In future seasons, Sarah-Jane will return to the Wigmore Hall and the Musee d’Orsay.

This season, on the operatic stage Sarah-Jane Brandon will appear as Contessa Le nozze di Figaro in a new production at the Dresden Semperoper, as well as for the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Finland; on tour for Aix En Provence Festival in Bahrain and at English National Opera. In concert she will appear with the Munich Radio Orchestra, Classical Opera Company and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

3rd Prize - Dean Power, tenor (Ireland)


Dean Power is from Clarecastle, Ireland. He studied with Mary Brennan and repetiteur Mairead Hurley in the R.I.A.M. and D.I.T. Conservatory of music and drama.

He was a multiple prize-winner at the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition.

Operatic roles include Tamino (Magic Flute), Belmonte(Entführung), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Ferrando (Cosi Fan Tutte), Il Contino Belfiore (La Finta Giardiniera), Toni Reischmann(Elegie für junge Liebende).

He has performed oratorios by Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Haydn and Orff.

In the 2010/11 season, he became a member of the studio at the Bavarian State Opera house and since September 2012 he has been engaged as a member of the house ensemble. There, he has performed the roles of Edmondo (Manon Lescaut), Vitellozzo and Rustighello (Lucrezia Borgia), Normanno(Lucia di Lammermoor), Froh (Das Rheingold), Scaramuccio (Ariadne), Le Remendado (Carmen), Der Bucklige and Die Erscheinung eines Jünglings (Frau ohne Schatten) and Malcolm (Macbeth).

Upcoming roles at the Bavarian State Opera House include: Graf Elemer (Arabella), Apoll o(l'Orfeo) and Der Junge Seemann. This coming June, he will return to the Staatstheater am Gartnerplatz for a new production of Cosi fan tutte. He also makes a debut with the Bamberger Symphoniker in May.



4th Prize - Anna Victorova, mezzo soprano (Russia)


Mezzo-soprano Anna Victorova completed her studies at the music college attached to the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire and, in 2006, she graduated from the Conservatoire (Pyotr Skusnichenko's class). Than she continued her studies as a post-graduate there.
In 2005-07, she was a soloist-probationer with the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre. 

Her repertoire includes Vava (Shostakovich's Moskva, Cheryomushki), Kate Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), Babarikha (Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan), Olga (Eugene Onegin), Polina, Countess (The Queen of Spades), Lyubasha (Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride), Emilia (Otello), Ulrika (Un Ballo in maschera), Ratmir (Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmila), Dalila (Samson et Dalila), Ganna (Rimsky-Korsakov's May Night), and also the alto parts in Verdi's Requiem and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

In 2007, she made her Bolshoi Theatre debut as Polina (The Queen of Spades).

She has participated in many International Union of Music People and Irina Arkhipova Fund projects — including, among others, the Irina Arkhipova presents Opera Festivals and the Russian Chamber Vocal Lyric — from Glinka to Sviridov project.
In 2007, she took part in a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem in Zurich. In the same year, she sang Polina (The Queen of Spades) at the Latvian National Opera, appeared at Musica Riva festival with Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini (Riva del Garda, Italy) and at the Mainau Festival (Germany).
In 2008, she took part in a concert performance of May Night at the Arkhangelskoe Estate Museum singing the part of Ganna (conductor Mikhail Pletnev). In the same year, she sang Dalila (Samson et Dalila) at the Anna Livia Dublin International Opera Festival.
In 2009, she performed at Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) and De Doelen (Rotterdam) in a concert of works by Rakhmaninov (with Sergei Leiferkus) and took part in the International Festival of Musical Academies in honour of bicentenary of Milan Conservatoire. 

She recorded the part of Emilia (Otello; conductor Murad Annamamedov, 2006).

She has won awards at the following competitions:
The 20th International Glinka Vocalists' Competition (lst prize and Hope prize, 2003);
Sobinov Music Festival (2nd prize, Saratov, 2004);
The China (Ningbo) International Vocal Competition (2nd prize, 2005);
International Maria Callas Vocalists' Competition (2nd prize, Athens, 2005);
International Byul-Byul Competition (2nd prize, Baku, 2005);
International Yelena Obraztsova Young Opera Singers Competition (2nd Prize, 2006);
Galina Vishnevskaya Open Competition for Opera Singers (3rd prize and audience sympathies' prize, 2006);
the International Riccardo Zandonai Young Opera Singers Competition (1st prize, Riva del Garda, Italy, 2006);
13th International Tchaikovsky Competition (4th prize, 2007).



5th Prize - Benjamin Russell, baritone (Ireland)


Benjamin Russell is a member of the ensemble of the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Germany. He studied at the International Opera Studio of the Zurich Opera House, Switzerland after having received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin in 2011 and 2012 respectively. There he studied singing with Sylvia O'Regan and coach Brenda Hurley.

This year he performs, among others, the roles of Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Maximilian in Candide and Schaunard in La Boheme in Wiesbaden. He is also scheduled to sing the roles of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and Papageno in Die Zauberflote among others for the 2016/17 season.

Previous to this he performed various parts on the main stage of the Zurich Opera House while part of the International Opera Studio, among them Abraham Gray in the premier of Die Schatzinsel by Frank Schwemmer and the Jazz Trio in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti. He also performed the role of Antippo in the IOS production of Telemann's Der Geduldige Sokrates.

In June 2011 he sang Junius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at the Aldeburgh Festival which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and, in January 2012, Athamus in the RIAM production of Handel's Semele.

He has also performed in many concerts, both at home and abroad, including Lunchtime concerts in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, recitals of Schumann's Dichterliebe and Liederkreis Op.39 in the City Hall, Hong Kong and several concerts in The Netherlands organised by the IVC.

Competition successes include finalist in the Veronica Dunne International Singing competition 2010, where he also received the Joan Sutherland prize for 'Most Promising Singer'. He was a semifinalist and prizewinner in the 2010 International Vocal Competition in s'Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. He was also winner of the RIAM Irené Sandford Award for Singers and winner of numerous prizes in the national Feis Ceoil, Dublin.

He has sung in masterclass with Thomas Allen, Ann Murray, Graham Johnson, Elly Ameling, Rudolf Jansen, Brigitte Fassbender, Christoph Pregardien, Malcolm Martineau, Dawn Upshaw, Kayo Iwama, Wolfgang Holzmair, Luana de Vol, Robert White, Ian Partridge, Michael Elaison and Umberto Chiummo among others.

He was a member of the Opera Theatre Company Young Associate Artists' Programme 2010-11 and a student on various courses of the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme as part of the Aldebugh Festival, Suffolk.

In July 2008, he participated in the international Opera Plus singing course in Estoril and the next year was invited to the Montalto Musica summer course where he worked on and sang Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale.



6th Prize Christopher Magiera, baritone (America)


Young American tenor Christopher Magiera has been praised for his distinctive tone and natural dramatic ability on stage. Recent highlights have included Licinius (La Vestale) and Danilo (Die lustige Witwe) with Dresden's Semperoper.

Magiera formerly performed internationally as a baritone and was a member of the Opernstudio of the Bayerische Staatsoper, before spending two seasons with the ensemble at the Dresden Semperoper. While there he sang, among others, in new productions of Iolanta under Vladimir Jurowski and L'elisir d'amore under Riccardo Frizza. Other baritone work included the title roles of Eugene Onegin, Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Don Giovanni as well as the roles of Conte Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Valentin (Faust), Marcello (La boheme), Papageno (Die Zauberflote), The Captain (The Death of Klinghoffer) and Zurga (Les pecheurs de perles).

Christopher Magiera has enjoyed success in operatic engagements across America and Europe, performing with Santa Fe Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Theatre of St Louis as well as the Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro di San Carlo and English National Opera. In concert, he has performed with the Montreal and Bilkent symphony orchestras in Carmina Burana and in recital at The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series. He has worked with some of the world's most renowned conductors including Kent Nagano, Asher Fisch, Emmanuel Villaume, Stephen Lord, Pier Giorgio Morandi and Frederic Chaslin.

Magiera was a Grand Finalist in The Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions in 2008 as well as a finalist in Placido Domingo's Operalia World Opera Competition. He was also awarded the Grand Prize of the Sullivan Foundation in 2010 as well as many other accolades from the Jensen Foundation, Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Liederkranz Foundation, Bel Canto Foundation and the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation.

He attended the Yale School of Music and is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Wake Forest University.
He is now managed by Harrison Parrott.