Chinese tenor is BBC Cardiff favourite

Chinese tenor is BBC Cardiff favourite


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2019

After a lengthy delay due to a medical crisis in the audience, Mingjie Lei, 31, was announced shortly before midnight as winner of the £10,000 Song Prize at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019.

He goes through to the main final Saturday night together with
US Bass Patrick Guetti, 31
Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach, 31
Korean soprano Sooyeon Lee, 30
Argentine mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Barrientos, 32

It took more than 24 hours for the BBC’s PRs to issue a press release on the finalists.

The BBC has haplessly failed to stir public interest in the competition and doubts are being expressed about its future.


  • Pianoronald says:

    Mingjie Lei sang beautifully and was a worthy winner.

  • Sam says:

    The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World changed my life in 1989. I was 19, and glued to the BBC2 prime-time coverage of Dimitri vs Bryn. No back-stories or hardship narratives, just two young men excelling at their craft and enchanting millions with excellence alone. And that excellence is what inspired me and changed me for good, delivered to me in rural Northern England by the trusted, standard-bearing BBC.

    How lamentably shameful it is, then, that the BBC has relegated this golden nugget to a barely visible sideshow. The BBC has a mandate to maintain standards of excellence across all genres, not to pander to, and actively exacerbate perceptions that opera – in a world of sport and media mega-elites – is somehow elitist and unpopular.

    Has nobody in the BBC noticed that the most rapturous applause and hysterical fawning during “popular” “talent” shows is awarded to the contestants who have a go at singing something classical? One line of Nessun Dorma has them gaga! Why on earth, then, can the BBC not tap into that raw emotion, that innate sense that yes, there are objective standards of beauty in the world. There IS an audience for beauty out there, thirsting for it in this mediocre world, a world in which the under-skilled, have-a-go amateur with an exaggerated hardship narrative – Dimitri came from Siberia, for heaven’s sake, but who cared? – is more likely to make a fortune out of the classical repertoire than these young, world-class singers! In what other profession is that the case?

    And somewhere out there are 19 year-olds deprived of the enchantment that only real excellence provokes in human hearts. If we can celebrate excellence in sport, and not yield to amateurs with back-stories, why can’t we do the same for this magical art form? Have the courage and integrity to give these excellent singers their moment in the prime-time sun once every two years, and nourish us all!

  • James says:

    ‘Doubts are being expressed about it’s future…’

    Well. Competitions are stupid anyway. Nothing to do with actual art.

  • Kenneth Griffin says:

    “After a lengthy delay due to a medical crisis in the audience, Mingjie Lei, 31, was announced shortly before midnight as winner of the £10,000 Song Prize at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019.”


    BBC Radio 3 broadcast this Final live, including the live on-stage announcement at around 10:45.

    Is 10:45 generally considered to be “shortly before midnight”?

    Perhaps you were in France last night, which I believe is an hour ahead of Wales?

    • Hornbill says:

      The song competition final was broadcast in a delayed transmission on BBC4. That was where the “midnight” announcement came. The transmission was delayed to allow them to show the women’s football.

      It was pretty hard to find coverage of the preliminary rounds of the main competition but Mrs H eventually unearthed it on BBC2 Wales which we were able to watch via the internet even though we were in London.

      The Beeb usually gives blanket advertising for their events on Radio 3 but apparently not in this case. I wonder why?

      Have heard some wonderful singing – looking forward to the final tomorrow.

  • Bill Worley says:

    It will be a great pity if this important competition does not continue.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    It is on BBC Wales and BBC 4 but if only they would throw as much money at it as they do for the Eurovision crap we would all be delighted.

  • Keen Ned says:

    The BBC are only interested in Britain’s Got Talent. They don’t give a stuff about classical music. But the Ukrainian performer won – because Ukraine is Flavour Of The Month at Chatham House.