Belarus soprano wins Cardiff Singer of the World

Belarus soprano wins Cardiff Singer of the World


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2015

Following Welsh National Opera boss David Pountney, speaking in Welsh, Dame Kiri te Kanawa has announced Nadine Koutcher, 32, from Belarus, as winner of Cardiff Singer of the World 2015.

nadine koutcher


In the final she displayed all the pluses and minuses of the old Soviet teaching system. Maximum technical command, minimum emotional intelligence. Fully developed instrument, not really a young singer. She’s exactly the type of singer opera managers pick for safety. But her performance of the Bell Song probably clinched it.

The audience prize went to Amartuvshin Enkhbat of Mongolia.

Amartuvshin Enkhbat


  • Guus Mostart says:

    Competent but dull; all the lights on and nobody home. Seems like compromised choice.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      My impression, exactly.

      • Tim says:

        For what it’s worth, I saw her sing Dona Isabel in Peter Sellars’s production of the Indian Queen in Madrid two years ago and it was wrench-your-heart-out moving. Really, one of the most special performances I’ve ever witnessed and certainly one I will never forget. I can guarantee that regardless of this final, there is most definitely someone at home and she is exactly the type of artist that should win this competition….. in my humble opinion.

        • Caroline Zoob says:

          I absolutely agree. She had an incredibly pleasing and communicative stage manner. Perhaps her graceful and relaxed posture – the way she sang without all the nervous ticks and unnecessary pour des bras (arm movements, ballet) employed by the albeit fabulous baritone from Mongolia was incredibly impressive. This competition is about singers who are ready to hit the major opera stages – arguably 32 is just the right age.

          • Jonathan Z says:

            Come on wife! It’s port de bras not pour des bras. I thought you had studied in Paris!

  • uranis says:

    Well on top good marketing potential! Thats important! 😉

  • Joyce Reid says:

    I feel she deserved the prize. The Mongolian lad and the Korean were excellent too. Such gifts!!

  • John Summers says:

    I was there in the Hall and she was absolutely the right choice. She’s an amazing talent for the future.

  • Katina Palio says:

    I quote from above:” In the final she displayed all the pluses and minuses of the old Soviet teaching system. Maximum technical command, minimum emotional intelligence.”

    REALLY?? This rather un-researched generalisation unfairly dismisses many fine Soviet Sopranos : Kazantseva,Sterling, Ivanova , Isotova, Basistiuk , Chkonya , Voites, Kadinskaya, Kaal, Gaidai ,Miroshnichenko, Kovaleva, Pakul, Tatishvilli, Apanavichiute , Bobrineva, Lebedeva, Nakashidze, Pisarenko, Ustinova, Gasparian in her prime , not to mention the mezzo Dolukhanova and many others were primarily emotional singers than technically-minded automata,

  • Melisande says:

    Classy singer which nowadays isn’t appreciated, as I read above. Ms. Koutcher will undoubtedly amaze a large audience in the future, because her skills and honesty will shine. Why would it have been a compromised choice, I wonder?

  • Anonymous says:

    The final E in Alt was a D sharp in Alt by the time she had finished. 🙁

    • Una says:

      About time, Anonymous, that you ‘came out’ and gave us your real name instead of hiding, and before you criticise just one note out of thousands!!

      All those singers over five nights will have even better careers for the showcase. Well done to all of them.

  • Mark Glanville says:

    I have had several in depth conversations with Dmitri Hvorostovsky. He told me that even in exercises he was taught never to sing a note that lacked emotional content. Norman, my own belief, one shared by many, is that it’s Americans who are more guilty of the sins you describe. In my experienc of working with a number of Russian singers, they rarely lacked emotional intelligence. It was their stagecraft and languages which held them back. And this is the 1990s.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      It may have read like a generalisation, Mark, but it was not intended as such. Go back two generations and you find Russians like Vishnevskaya who could not take a sip of water without displaying emotional intelligence. You are spot-on, Mark, to say that stagecraft or lack of it freezes some Russian singers to the spot. This soprano showed all the inhibitions of institutional training and little of the confidence it is eant to breed – until she went for it in the Bell Song.

      • John Summers says:

        I don’t think that it is possible to judge from seeing it on TV which, for me, fails to give any true impression of the real quality of the voice or the singers’ real personality. She’s got star quality and, although she probably wasn’t right on the top of her game in tems of the incredibly difficult stuff she chose to sing, she is clearly going to be a big name (in my view)

        • Gillian Rae-Walker says:

          You can tell quite a lot from TV – eg. the stunning quality of her voice at times, but you can also hear tuning problems and there were a few of those. I am surprised she won because the Konstanze was very effortful. Having sung this and the Lakme, I would say her top has technical problems. However apart from some intonation the Lakme was stunning. But for me the tenor had all the qualities and no weak numbers, so why not him?

  • Barrie Scott says:

    In the hall, live, both in the heat and the final, she was the one who stood out and lit up the auditorium. The others were super singers, but she was head and shoulders above the rest. And at last a decent coloratura wins Cardiff!

  • Charles Dickson says:

    Who is this smart arse Anonymous who can justify such petty comments. I have been a musician for over 50 years and I have never known any colleagues who have never cracked a high note or made an error with intonation. I would love to meet such a God if one existed.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    She’s Mozart’s Countess in Toulouse next April.

  • Nicholas Ennos says:

    Loved her singing. The Mongolian is a great talent too. By the way, does anyone go to the opera to see acting?

  • Joel says:

    Last year I saw and listen her live singing her first Elvira in “Puritani” at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago (Chile), and she was brilliant and very moving. The public and critics loved her!