No-talk competition is won by a German and a Swede

No-talk competition is won by a German and a Swede


norman lebrecht

May 30, 2019

The Mirjam Helin Competition, where judges are not allowed to discuss contestants, was won last night by Stefan Astakhov and Johanna Wallroth.

The judges’ rankings were:

1st prize: Stefan Astakhov, baritone, German
2nd prize: Rodrigo Sosa Dal Pozzo, countertenor, Italian, Venezuelan
3rd prize: Bryan Murray, baritone, American
4th prize: Jussi Juola, bass-baritone, Finnish


1st prize: Johanna Wallroth, soprano, Swedish
2nd prize: Olga Cheremnykh, soprano, Russia
3rd prize: Teaa An, mezzo-soprano, South Korean
4th prize: Palesa Malieloa, soprano, South African

1st prize €30 000, 2nd prize €20 000, 3rd prize €15 000 and 4th prize €10 000.

The members of the Jury vote independently and do not discuss the performances during the voting procedure. The chairman of the 2019 Jury is the Artistic Director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Jorma Silvasti. The members are Olaf Bär, Ben Heppner, Vesselina Kasarova, François Le Roux, Waltraud Meier, Deborah Polaski and Kiri Te Kanawa.



  • I’ve heard Stefan Astakhov at the International Vocal Competition ‘s-Hertogenbosch (IVC) lat year and was absolutely knocked out by his voice, text comprehension in many languages and interpretation.
    He was then only 20 years old!

    If someone is interested: my impressions from the competition (in Dutch)

  • Clara says:

    It’s now fairly frequent that judges in international competitions do not have any discussion and vote on their own. And that means that often the judges are also surprised when results are announced. Each judge knows only how he or she voted.

  • John Rook says:

    How about a competition where contestants are not allowed to sing but are judged solely on their mentors’ connections? What? Eh? Oh.

  • Passerby says:

    The China competition was also supposed to be a “no-talk” competition. But look what happened: