Photo by Decca / Simon Fowler 

Our 2010 Prizewinners

Pumeza Matshikiza, South African Soprano – Winner of 2010 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland – Photo by Decca / Simon Fowler
Photo by Decca / Simon Fowler

Pumeza Matshikiza


Described as “one of today’s most exciting new operatic voices” (Independent), South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza is one of today’s rising opera stars. An exclusive Decca Classics recording artist, her debut album “Voice of Hope” was released in 2014. Her second album “Arias” with arias by Puccini, Catalani, Ravel and Mozart and songs by Fauré was released in May 2016.

Pumeza Matshikiza kicks off the 17/18 season with recitals in Rio de Janeiro and will then return to Europe to debut at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden as Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème under the baton of Albert Horne. On the concert stage the South African soprano can be heard in solo concerts with the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen under the baton of Johannes Klumpp and in a recital in Strasbourg at the Opéra national du Rhin, accompanied by her frequent musical partner, pianist Paul Montag, performing arias and South African songs.

In the 16/17 season Pumeza Matshikiza sang solo concerts in her home town Cape Town and in Budapest as part of the Budapest Spring Festival. On the operatic stage, Pumeza Matshikiza returned to the Staatsoper Stuttgart as Micaёla (Carmen), after celebrating her highly anticipated role debut at the same house in early 2016. She finished her season sharing the stage with tenor Rolando Villazon under the baton of Duncan Ward, giving an open air concert at Schloss Salem in July 2016 in front of almost 2000 viewers.

Recent engagements include her debuts as Eve in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s CO2 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan and with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, singing the world premiere of Luca Francesconi’s Bread, Water and Salt, based on the famous speech by Nelson Mandela; Dido in Dido and Aeneas with the English Concert Orchestra at the Bristol Old Vic as part of the Bristol Proms series; two concerts with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra in Denmark; an appearance at the BBC Proms in the Park and a concert tour with Rolando Villazón that took her to Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Gasteig Munich, Kuppelsaal Hanover, Tonhalle Düsseldorf and Helsinki. As a five-year esemble member of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, her roles included Micaёla (Carmen), Mimì (La Bohème), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Ännchen (Der Freischütz), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte).

Pumeza Matshikiza studied at the University of Cape Town College of Music and the Royal College of Music with a full scholarship. Roles at the RCM included Marenka (The Bartered Bride), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Concepcion (L’heure espagnole), Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea) and Contessa (Le nozze di Figaro). The young soprano also participated in masterclasses with renowned artists such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Renata Scotto, Joan Rogers, Paul Farrington, Philip Langridge and Ileana Cotrubas. She has worked with accompanists Malcolm Martineau, Julius Drake and Simon Lepper.

Pumeza Matshikiza was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme at the Royal Opera House from 2007-2009 and could be heard as Blumenmädchen in Wagner’s Parsifal, Slave in Strauss’ Salome, Innocent (The Minotaur), Witch in Dido and Aeneas, Sandmann (Hänsel und Gretel) and Tebaldo in Verdi’s Don Carlo, conducted by Antonio Pappano. In January, 2010 Pumeza Matshikiza was awarded with the 1st Prize in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition and became an Associate Artist of the Classical Opera Company, singing the title role in Mozart’s Zaide for which she was awarded with the Patrick Fyffe-Dame Hilda Brackett Prize. 

Read more about Pumeza Matshikiza

Sarah-Jane Brandon, South African Soprano – 2nd place in 2010 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland – Photo by Decca / Simon Fowler

Sarah-Jane Brandon


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

In the 2017/18 season, Sarah-Jane Brandon will return to the Semperoper Dresden as Antonia Les contes d’Hoffmann, and as Contessa Le nozze di Figaroand she will make her operatic debut in the United States as Contessa for Palm Beach Opera, Florida. On the concert platform, she will perform the Brahms’Requiem with the RSNO and Peter Oudjian; Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the Orchestra National de Lyon and Omer Meir Wellber and Britten’s War Requiem on a tour of the Netherlands with the Bochum Symphoniker and Rotterdam Symphony Chorus. In future seasons, Sarah-Jane will return to the Semperoper Dresden and Opera de Dijon, and she looks forward to her debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper.

Sarah-Jane Brandon has enjoyed particular success with the role of Contessa Le nozze di Figaro, performing the role in new productions for the Semperoper Dresden and Savonlinna Opera Festival, as well as for Glyndebourne; English National Opera; Opéra de Dijon; Opéra-Theatre de Saint-Etienne, Cape Town Opera and the National Theatre of Bahrain – on tour for the Aix en Provence Festival.

Further appearances on the operatic stage include Micäela Carmen for the Deutsche Oper, Berlin and Teatro Sao Carlos, Lisbon;  Pamina in a new production of Die Zauberflöte for the Opéra de Nice; Donna Clara Der Zwerg in a new production for the Teatro Sao Carlos, Lisbon; Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; Giulietta I Capuleti e i Montecchi for the Buxton Festival; Desdemona Otello for Cape Town Opera and she made her debut at the Teatro Real, Madrid in performances of Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with the Mark Morris Dance Group conducted by Jane Glover, this acclaimed production was filmed and released on DVD.

Her recent concert engagements include Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; a tour of the Netherlands with the BBCSO and Martyn Brabbins, performing Howell’s Hymns Paradisi; Mahler’s 8 Symphony conducted by Omer Meir Wellber at the Dresden Music Festival; Viennese Gala Concerts with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Rösner; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Sir Roger Norrington and with Vasily Petrenko at the RLPO; and her debut at the Concertgebouw with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Benjamin Zander performing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony.

Further concert highlights include Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner; Mahler’s Symphony no. 4with 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.

Sarah-Jane’s recent recital appearances include her debut recital at the Wigmore Hall with James Baillieu; 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. She has recorded Poulenc with Graham Johnson and Wolf Lieder with Sholto Kynoch. 

Read more about Sarah-Jane Brandon

Dean Power, Irish Tenor – 3rd place in 2010 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland – Photo by Andrey Stoychev
Photo by Andrey Stoychev

Dean Power


Dean Power is from Clarecastle, Ireland. He studied in Dublin with Mary Brennan and repetiteur Mairead Hurley in the R.I.A.M. and D.I.T. Conservatory of Music and Drama.Operatic roles include Tamino(Magic Flute), Belmonte(Entführung), Don Ottavio(Don Giovanni), Ferrando(Cosi Fan Tutte).

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 Steuermann(Der fliegende Holländer), Walther von der Vogelweide(Tannhäuser), Jaquino(Fidelio), Edmondo(Manon Lescaut), Rustighello(Lucrezia Borgia), Froh(Das Rheingold), Graf Elemer(Arabella), Scaramuccio(Ariadne), Le Remendado(Carmen), Der Bucklige and Die Erscheinung eines Jünglings(Frau ohne Schatten), Malcolm(Macbeth), and (Covered-David in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte) among others. 

He has guested in Glyndebourne as Maintop (and cover novice) in Billy Budd, in St.Gallen(as Rustighello in Lucrezia Borgia), and Gärtnerplatz Staatstheater(as Belmonte, Ferrando and Tamino).

In concert, he has performed many works by Bach, Beethoven, Coghill, Händel, Haydn, Mozart, Orff, Purcell, Rossini, Schubert, Schumann, and Verdi etc. He has performed with the Bamberg Symphoniker, Münchner Symphoniker, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bayerische Philharmonie.

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Anna Victorova, Russian Mezzo-Soprano – 4th place in 2010 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland

Anna Victorova


Anna Victorova,mezzo-soprano, studied at the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatoire with Professor Skusnichenko. Between 2004 and 2007 she was a trainee at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre and between 2009 and 2011 she was a singer of the La Scala Youth Academy.

At the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre the singer performed Babarikha in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan and Vava in Shostakovich’s Moscow, Cheryomushki; she also participated in concert performances of Weinberg’s The Passenger and Langer’s Songs at the Well.

In 2007 she made her debut at the Bolshoi Theatre as Polina in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades; later she performed the part at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Latvian National Opera. With the Russian National Orchestra led by Mikhail Pletnyov she performed Hanna in Rimsky-Korsakov’s May Night at the Arkhangelsk Music Festival and the alto part in Scriabin’s First Symphony at the World Orchestras Festival in Moscow.

She sang in The Tsar’s Bride at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall and at the Grand Finale of the Year of Russia in China in Beijing with the Tchaikovsky Big Symphony Orchestra led by Vladimir Fedoseyev.

The singer also performed Delilah in Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah at the Anna Livia Opera Festival in Dublin, Ireland; Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, the Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theatre and at the Astrakhan Opera and Ballet Theatre; Amneris in Verdi’s Aidaat the Municipal Theatre of Santiago, Chile; Marina Mniszech in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo; Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana in concert at the Musica Riva festival in Riva del Garda; mezzo-soprano parts in Prokofiev’s cantata Alexander Nevsky, Verdi’s Requiemat the Musica Riva festival in Riva del Garda and at the Tonhalle Concert Hall in Zurich; Schnittke’s cantata Nagasaki in Nagoya, 2014; Pergolesi’s Stabat Materin Milan. At La Scala she performed in Britten’s The Little Sweep and Verdi’s Rigoletto.

With La Scala’s chamber orchestra Anna sang Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder in La Scala, the Quirinal Palace in Rome and at the Dino Ciani Festival in Cortina D’Ampezzo.

Anna Victorova sang a concert programme of Rachmaninov’s romances with Sergei Leiferkus in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and at the Rotterdam Concert Hall. 

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Benjamin Russell, Irish Baritone – 5th place in 2010 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland

Benjamin Russell


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 coach Brenda Hurley and his current teacher Sylvia O’Regan

During his time in Wiesbaden his roles have included Papageno in Die ZauberflöteFigaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Falke in Die FledermausDonner in Rheingold, Malatesta in Don PasqualeMaximilian in CandideSchaunard in La Bohème, and Haudy in Die Soldaten. He also sang various parts on the main stage of the Zurich Opera House while a member 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. In September 2017, he performed the title role in Britten’s Owen Wingrave for Opera Collective Ireland. In June 2011 he sang Juniusin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at the Aldeburgh Festival which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. The recording for this was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.

Last season in Wiesbaden he performed Wolfram von Eschenbach in TannhäuserMasetto in Don GiovanniMonsieur de Brétigny in ManonSilvano in Un Ballo in Maschera and also repeats the role of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. In the 18/19 season he will revive the roles of SilvanoWolfram von Eschenbach and Masetto as well as making his debut as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and Fritz Kothner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

He has also performed in many concerts, both at home and abroad, including Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen in the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden with the Sinfonieorchester, Lunchtime concerts in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, recitals of Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Liederkreis Op.39 in the City Hall, Hong Kong. 

This season includes Bach’s Cantata BWV 82 Ich habe genug with the Wiesbaden Sinfonieorchester under the baton of Patrick Lange and  baritone soloist in Puccini’s Missa di Gloria with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra with Zsolt Hamar.

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.

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Christopher Magiera, American Baritone – 6th place 2010 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland – Photo by Christie Pham
Photo by Christie Pham

Christopher Magiera


Christopher Magiera has been noted for his “manly, vibrant baritone of uncommon distinction” (Opera Today) and was praised by The New York Times for his performance in The Death of Klinghoffer: “Among a uniformly outstanding cast, Christopher Magiera, a handsome baritone, stands out as a warm, brave and sympathetic Captain.”

In the 2018-19 season, Mr. Magiera will will return to the Chicago Opera Theatre as Robert in Iolanta and Gardiner in Moby Dick, and will sing Jim Crowley in Jack Perla’s An American Dream with Lyric Opera of Chicago. Last season, he reprised the role of Sharpless with Opera Naples, sang Bach’s Ich habe genug –  BWV 82 – with the Depaul Concert Orchestra, and joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago for their production of Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers. Other recent engagements include a role debut as Sharpless in Madame Butterfly (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), Marcello in La bohème (Charleston Opera), soloist in the premiere of The Wound Dresser by John Adams (McLean Orchestra), soloist in Dvorak’s Requiem (Berkshire Choral Festival), soloist in Bach Cantatas (Toledo Symphony), Joseph de Rocher in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (Fresno Grand Opera), and The Fugitive in The Invention of Morel by Stewart Copeland (OPERA America New Works).

Read more about Christopher Magiera

Our 2010 Jury

Jane Carty
Competition Chair

Annett Andriesen
Singer and Vocal Coach, Amsterdam Conservatorium

Christian Carlstedt
Theater an Der Wien, Vienna and Bavarian State Opera, Munich

Ileana Cotrubas

Dieter Kaegi
Switzerland, Opera Ireland

Sergei Leiferkus

Steven Naylor
Glyndebourne (UK)

Laurent Wagner
International Conductor and Vocal Coach (France)