No English competitor at Cardiff Singer of the World

No English competitor at Cardiff Singer of the World


norman lebrecht

February 25, 2015

The BBC has announced 20 contestants for this summer’s televised singathon.

Among them are three South Koreans, three Americans, two from Belarus and one each for a dozen other nations.

A Swansea soprano, Céline Forrest, is included by virtue of winning the Welsh Singers Competition.

celine forrest

No contestant made the cut from any other part of the United Kingdom at eight international auditions.

Imagine the Tchaikovsky Competition without Russians?

BBC. National broadcaster. Plot. Lost.


  • Michael Endres says:

    The Queen can help .
    Using Letters Patent, a method by which the sovereign can give orders without the involvement of Parliament,she could introduce a quota for English singers .

  • Anon says:

    ‘Imagine the Tchaikovsky Competition without Russians?’
    It’s a competition based in Wales, not England!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      It’s organised by the BBC. What does the first B stand for?

      • Anne Marie says:

        The B stands for British; Wales is in Britain. Where exactly is the problem?

      • Anne Marie says:

        The B stands for British: Wales is in Britain. Where exactly is the problem?

      • Anon says:

        It’s CARDIFF singer of the world, not London singer of the world

      • Anon says:

        Wales is a part of Britain

      • Andreas B. says:

        Well, I doubt it stands for England.

        When did Wales cease to be British?

        Isn’t the BBC the welsh national broadcaster, too?

        International auditions were held and did not produce any English (or Scottish, or Irish, or…) contestants for the final round of this competition – as long as this happened for musical reasons alone I can see no fault in that.

        Let us look forward to getting to know new talent and wonderful musicians who have to try to be artists in the difficult circumstances of a competition – without thinking of where they come from!
        Which by the way is not entirely dissimilar to what is being demanded regularly on this site of certain central European orchestras and their hiring practices…

  • Cole says:

    Why should a national broadcaster, when promoting an international competition, give bias towards its nation’s artists? Using the ‘B’ for British argument and ignoring the ‘W’ for World argument makes no sense.

    If anything, I’m more pleased by the seemingly wider breadth of nations represented in a worldwide event. The fact that Britain does have a strong representative in the form of Ms. Forrest is a fantastic contribution.

  • Anon says:

    So rather than assessing entries by talent, we should have a quota based on nationality? Silly idea. Isn’t it supposed to be about the best singing and music, rather than where the performer has the fortune to be born?

  • Anne Marie says:

    I fear your Tchaikovsky comparison is misconstrued; there is nothing innately English about the competition, including where it takes place. By your logic, Scotland and Northern Ireland should also gain automatic entry by virtue of also being (technically) British dominions. Where I agree that the over-representation of certain participant nations – to the wholesale exclusion of others – makes a mockery of the supposed global reach of the contest, arguing for a special dispensation for English singers is patently ridiculous; if Britain is legally and politically a unified state (one would hope the Scottish referendum had settled that question for a while at least), then one cannot reasonably claim that any constituent nation of Britain deserves to be considered apart from the rest (the automatic entry of a participant from Wales notwithstanding). In my view, it would be better for the CSotW to take the form of a “Eurovision of Opera” (minus the gaudy circus surrounding that event), where a single representative of each nation – that can demonstrate the appropriate standards in Opera – competes in what would then be a truly global contest. That would lend proper credence to the internationally pre-eminent status implied in the name. As it currently stands the selection criteria is, one has to agree, a bit of a farce.

    • Graham says:

      One would assume that the eight auditions go some way towards proving the opportunity for all countries to participate. The idea that a Eurovision of Opera (with or without the circus acts) would represent the best operatic talent of each nation is wishful thinking I fear. It is certainly not the case with the popular music version!

  • Michael says:

    If you had needed to pander to jingoistic obsession a more accurate headline should have been “No English singer good enough to take part in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition”. NL could also have mentioned Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, not to mention around 200 countries who have missed out! Or just congratulate those who WERE good enough, enjoy the competition and investigate why no English singers were considered good enough. Or sponsor an English Singers Competition.

  • Michael says:

    A better title would gave been “No English singers good enough to take part in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition”. Or sponsor an “English Singers Competition”.

  • Jane Webster says:

    When I was the British entrant for the Cardiff Singer competition there was also a Scottish and a Welsh entrant… I think the point is being missed, unless the rules have changed completely. It is not that the British entrant is Welsh, it’s that an English entrant was not found. .. nor a Scottish it seems.

  • Max Grimm says:

    “No English competitor at Cardiff Singer of the World”

    How would the reception here be if somebody lamented “No Austrians at VPO audition”?

  • Lucy Harbin says:

    But how can they use the word “world” in the title unless there is someone English involved?

    • anon says:

      I’m going to write to trading standards. You’re bang on – there isn’t someone from each of the 196 countries in the World.

  • Lesley Craigie says:

    I’m sorry- but Scotland is also part of BRITAIN, as is Northern Ireland and Wales- I think you need to go back to high school geography lessons Mr. Lebrecht!! Also, did it ever occur to you that just maybe the competitors who made it through deserved to be there more than the other British competitors?. This is Cardiff Singer of the WORLD. It’s a pretty big place with lots of countries, the last time I looked.

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    It seems worth pointing out that the Maltese tenor, Nico Darmanin, Studied at the Royal College of Music and the National opera Studio in London. That goes some way to representing British interests, I would have thought. 🙂

  • Ric Cartmale says:

    Cardiff is not England – why should there be any English singers in a Welsh International competition, when so many English singing students shy away from the technical difficulties of learning to sing opera, and (coincidently?) most of the teachers and institutions often shy away from teaching it and appointing opera singers to their staffs.

    Former member of ENO. Music Director of Opera Foundry

  • Siôn says:

    It is entirely possible that England under performs when it comes to producing operatic talent. This could be objectively analysed by the admittedly dodgy method of checking out how many Welsh opera singers wikipedia chooses to list, and relating this number to the population of Wales. Wikipedia lists 49 Welsh opera singers (and no, Katherine Jenkins isn’t one of them) which gives a per capita total of 15.99/100,000. Wikipedia lists 316 English opera singers giving a per capita total of 0.596/100,000.
    England has therefore done very well to have been represented in most of the Cardiff competitions.