We are pleased to announce the winners of the Gianni Bergamo Classic Music Award – Competition for female voice (mezzo-soprano / contralto)
- 1st prize: Taylor Beth Margaret (UK)
- 2nd prize: Sharvit Hagar (ISRAEL / DE)
- 3rd prize: Levis Abigail (USA)
1st prize: Taylor Beth Margaret (UK)
Winner of the 2018 Gianni Bergamo Classical Music Award and lauded for her “strong presence both dramatically and musically” (The Arts Desk) and the “intriguing depth” (MusicOMH) of her portrayals, Beth Taylor is at the beginning of a promising international career.
Upcoming engagements in 2019 will lead the young Scottish mezzo-soprano to Aix-en-Provence, where she will make her festival debut in a new production of Rihm’s Jakob Lenz, to the New Generation Festival in Florence, where she will sing Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart), to Opéra de Lyon, where Beth will perform Melanto, Anfinomo and Fortuna in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi) and to Opera de Lorraine in 2020 as Bradamante in Alcina.
Beth will be commencing her final stage of training at the Zurich International Opera Studio in the 2019/20 season.
Recent highlights have included Arnalta in L’incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi) at the Longborough Festival, Rosmira in Partenope (Handel) at the Iford Arts Festival, La Reine/Le Coucou/Le Chat in La belle au bois dormant (Respighi) at the Opéra de Lyon, Fox/Dog/Hen in The Cunning Little Vixen (Janacek) at the Grimeborn Opera Festival and Olga in Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky) for Fife Opera.
Other operatic roles of her repertoire include Constanza (L’isola disabitata, Haydn), Ottone (Agrippina, Handel) Irene (Theodora, Handel), Cornelia (Giulio Cesare, Handel), Old Woman (The Day After, Dove) and Ramiro (La finta Giardinera, Mozart).
Beth is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Open University. She is currently refining her technique under the tutelage of Jennifer Larmore and Iain Paton. Beth has participated in masterclasses with renowned artists such as Sarah Connolly, Susan Graham, Sir Thomas Allen, Sophie Daneman and Dame Emma Kirkby. She is a proud member of the Live Music Now recital artists scheme and an enthusiastic practitioner with Glasgow based Additional Support Needs Charity, Paragon Music.
Beth has received numerous awards towards her studies and professional development. She is a grateful recipient of the Help Musicians UK Fleming Award, a Help Musicians UK Maidment Scholarship in 2017 and is also kindly supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the South Square Trust.
In competitions, Beth has won the prestigious Governor’s Recital Prize at RCS in April 2016, the Elgar Spedding Lieder and the Hugh S. Roberton Scottish Song Prizes in 2017 and the audience and best song prizes at the John Kerr Award for English Song in London in March 2018. She was a semi-finalist at the 2018 International Vocal Competition s’Hertogenbosch (IVC) in the Netherlands and won first prize at the prestigious Gianni Bergamo Classical Music Award in September
Beth has already shown immense potential and has collaborated with many of the UKs foremost professional musicians. She is a soloist and ensemble performer for the Dunedin Consort, Sestina, Genesis Sixteen, Kellie Consort and most recently, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. As a student, Beth performed in some of the World’s leading music festivals including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Hertfordshire Festival of Music, the New Generation Festival in Italy and the St Magnus Festival in Orkney.
2nd prize: Sharvit Hagar (ISRAEL / DE)
Hagar Sharvit is an Israeli mezzo-soprano, currently living in Germany. Hagar has been singing in opera, recitals and concerts in Europe and abroad since 2011, amongst others in the Lucerne festival, Bregenz festival, Musikverein in Vienna, the Gasteig in Munich, Mupa in Budapest, Victoria hall in Geneva, Palau de les arts in Valencia, Konzerthaus Berlin, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg festival and more.
Hagar has worked with renowned conductors and directors, such as Zubin Mehta, Placido Domingo, Laurence cummings, Andrea Battistoni, Graeme Jenkins, Ruggero Raimondi, Philipp Himmelmann, Jean-louis Grinda and others.
She has won awards in international Lied competitions, the first prize and public prize in the Das Lied competition of 2015, the first prize in the Brahms competition in Pörtschach, 2nd prize in the Schubert competition in Dortmund, 3rd prize in the Schumann competition in Zwickau and the 3rd prize in the Hugo Wolf competition in Stuttgart.
She is currently a member of the Oldenburgisches Staatstheater ensemble in Germany, where she performs main roles regularly such as: Dejaneira (Hercules), Amastre (Xerxes), Nerone (Agrippina), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Hermia (A midsummer nights dream), Pinocchio (the adventures of Pinocchio), Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Valencienne (Die lustige Witwe) and more. She also sang the roles of Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Irene (Theodora), Ottavia (L'incoronazione di Poppea), Thisbe (Cenerentola), Smeton (Anna Bolena) and others as a guest artist. upcoming roles are Angelina (Cenerentola) and Emira (Siroe).
Hagar has explored a wide range of Lied repertoire in varying languages and styles. She was invited to perform in many Lied recitals in renowned festivals and venues, such as, Lucerne festival, the Hugo Wolf academy, Aix en-Provence, Konzerthaus Berlin, Brahmsfest Mürzzuschlag, Ravinia festival, Theatre de la ville in Paris, Dias de la musica in Lisbon, Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem and more.
3rd prize: Levis Abigail (USA)
Named "Debut Artist of the Year" by the Joy in Singing Foundation, Abi Levis is one of the most exciting singers of her generation. Critics the world over have described her artistry as “fearless”, “dazzling”, “impressive”, and “breathtaking”. Ms. Levis’ passion for vocal music has been continuously nurtured throughout her life - singing Irish folk music with her father and Patsy Cline tunes at county fairs with her mentor, Tom Dyhrberg. She began classical training at the age of 15 and, after reading Opera for Dummies, became a die-hard opera fan. When not singing, she enjoys knitting, eating, playing PokemonGO! (gotta catch 'em all), tasting all the beers, and traveling the world as The Tessitourist (@tessitourist on Instagram and Ravelry).
Ms. Levis has appeared as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Flint Symphony, Symphonie Atlantique, American Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Ars Lyrica Houston and the Handel and Haydn Society. Operatically she has performed extensively at home and abroad with companies such Utah Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Parallele, Luzerner Theater, and Deutsche Oper Berlin.
She is a prize-winner of several competitions, including the American Prize, the Deborah Voigt Competition in Vero Beach, the McCammon Competition, the Shreveport Opera Competition, a Sullivan grant, the Klaudia Taev Competition, the Opera Foundation Competition, the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, the Gerda Lissner Competitons (Song and Opera), the William C Byrd competition, the Wilhelm Stenhammer Competition, the James Toland Vocal Arts Competition, the Classical Singer Competition, and the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Competition.
Ms. Levis excels in a variety of musical styles from baroque to contemporary music, from opera to musical theater. Passionate about new music, she has worked closely with composers such as John Harbison, John Musto, Brian Suits, Tamzin Elliot, Juliana Hall, and B.E. Boykin. Favorite roles in opera or musical theater have included ingénues (Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Cinderella in Into the Woods, Nancy in Albert Herring), maids and an aging actress who are anything but ingénues (Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, Petra in A Little Night Music and Métella in La vie Parisienne), passionate young men (Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, The Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen, Sesto in Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Romeo in I Capuleti ei Montecchi, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, and Siebel in Faust), bratty little boys and princes (Stephano in Romeo et Juliette, the title role in Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortileges, and Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus), a chatterbox who interrupts her constant prattling only to sip hot chocolate (La Conversation in Charpentier’s Les plaisirs de Versailles), and enigmatic queens (Purcell's Dido and Ottavia in L'incoranzaione di Poppea).
Abi holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, and Bard College Conservatory where she was the recipient of the Mimi Levitt Scholarship. While a Young Artist she performed with Los Angeles Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Utah Opera/Utah Symphony, The Britten-Pears Young Artist Program, and Songfest.
The Jury of 2018
Maestro Gianni Bergamo
Gianni Bergamo was born in Milan, Italy in 1941, attended primary school in Italy and Liceo in Switzerland. After a degree in Economy (1964) at the Catholic University of Milan, he dedicated himself to the study of music with Tissoni (harmony and composition), D. Maffeis (organ) and N. Sanzogno (orchestra conducting) at the Conservatory of Bergamo, Italy.
From 1964 to 1994 has been a businessman with his own import-export, real estate and finance companies, though at the same time he has remained close to music and to its world.
In 1990 he created the Cultural Association “Gli Amici Cantori”, first as a chorus alone, then later accompanied by an orchestra. He has given many concerts in Italy with them, preferring the symphonic-sacred repertoire (masses, oratories, passions, etc.). At present, he lives in Santiago del Chile.
Fabio Bonizzoni, one of the leading Italian harpsichordists and organists of his generation, graduated in organ, organ composition and harpsichord at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague in Ton Koopman’s class.
After having played for several years with some of the most important orchestras specializing in early music (Amsterdam Baroque, Le Concert des Nations, Europa Galante), from 2004 he exclusively devotes himself to his activities as soloist and director, in particular of his own orchestra La Risonanza.
Furthermore, he is harpsichord professor at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (Holland) and in Italy at the Conservatory of Novara; he is founder and president of the Associazione Hendel, a society devoted to the studies of Handel’s music in Italy.
As a soloist he has been recording for many years for the Spanish label Glossa. His discography includes works by Claudio Merulo, Giovanni Salvatore, Giovanni Picchi, Francesco Geminiani, Bernardo Storace, Domenico Scarlatti and Johann Sebastian Bach (Goldberg Variations and the Art of Fugue). His latest release is devoted to the two books of toccatas of Girolamo Frescobaldi.
In 2010 he has completed with La Risonanza the project of recording the complete Italian Cantatas with instruments by G.F. Handel: this project has been defined by Gramophone magazine as the most important of the decade, and 3 of the 7 CDs have been awarded the prestigious Handel Stanley Sadie Prize. The last disc of this series, Apollo e Dafne , won a Gramophone Award in 2011.
His activity is also enriched by commitments as guest conductor: in recent times he has been invited by Capella Cracoviensis and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra in Poland, by the Holland Bach Society in The Netherlands and by the Orchestra Barroca de Sevilla. Furthermore, he has conducted the orchestra of Teatro alla Scala in Milan in a new ballet called L’altro Casanova.
Since 2014 he is artistic director of Note Etiche, a festival focusing on links between music, ethics and finance, and, from 2016 he and his orchestra enjoy an artistic residence at Palazzina Liberty in their hometown Milan.
Born in Milan, he graduated in organ, composition and conducting from the Conservatory of his city and then specialized in early music at the Scuola Civica. He performed as a soloist and conductor throughout Europe, the United States, Russia and Japan, collaborating with artists such as Cecilia Bartoli, Max Emanuel Cencic, Philippe Jaroussky.
In 2006 he founded the period instrument and vocal ensemble Il canto di Orfeo. Particularly appreciated in the baroque and classical repertoire, he has recently conducted a staged production of Bellini’s Norma with Cecilia Bartoli in the title role for the opening night of the Edinburgh Festival.
Born in Moscow in 1978, Michael Fichtenholz studied the violin as well as music history. He graduated in 2002 from the Russian Academy of Music with a research dedicated to the magical operas of Handel. Active as a music critic in his final student years, he later joined Valery Gergiev’s Moscow Easter Festival as programme director and the Moscow State Philharmonic Society, where from 2006 he presented his own concert series with operatic masterpieces starring some of the most renowned singers and conductors, including first-ever performances in Russia of Handel’s Orlando, Ariodante, Hercules and Teseo.
He also served as head of artists and repertoire at the Russian National Orchestra (2007 – 2014) as well as head of long-term planning at the Bolshoi Theatre (2009 – 2013) before moving to Germany where he joined the Baden State Theatre in Karlsruhe as Director of Opera and Artistic Director of the Karlsruhe International Handel Festival, the latest editions of which featured some of the most prominent artists of the international baroque scene including Max Emanuel Cencic, Franco Fagioli, Ann Hallenberg, Sandrine Piau, Anna Bonitatibus, Vivica Genaux and Karina Gauvin.
In the season 2018/19 he will become opera director of the Opera Zurich
Very much on demand around the world, Sonia Prina is one of the leading contralto of her generation. She studied at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan where she graduated in trumpet and voice. In 1996 she was offered a place at the Teatro alla Scala’s vocal Academy for young singers. At only 23 years old, Miss Prina made her debuts as Rosina Barbiere di Siviglia at Teatro alla Scala under the baton of R.Chailly, featuring a young Juan Diego Florez as Almaviva.
Her rare contralto voice is quickly noticed on the international lyric scene. She is the winner of numerous prizes including the prestigious Italian prize of critic “Abbiati” in 2006 and the “Tiberini d’Oro” in 2014 in both cases as best singer of the year.
She is collaborating regularly with conductors such as Rinaldo Alessandrini, Giovanni Antonini, Harry Bicket, Fabio Biondi, Ivor Bolton, Alan Curtis, William Christie, Ottavio Dantone, Diego Fasolis, Christopher Hogwood, René Jacobs, Paul McCreesh, Marc Minkowski, Jean Christophe Spinosì, Patrick Summers, Jordy Savall and appears in productions by Robert Carsen, David McVicar, Pier Luigi Pizzi, John Copley, David Alden.
Highlights include the title role Rinaldo (Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Zurich Opera and Glyndebourne Festival), title role Ascanio in Alba (Salzburg Festival), Clarice La Pietra di Paragone (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris), , title role in Gluck’s Ezio (Frankfurt Oper), Aci, Galatea e Polifemo with René Jacobs (Brussels), Polinesso Ariodante (Aix en Provence Festival), and La Resurrezione with Emmanuelle Haïm and the Berliner Philarmoniker. More recently she performed Smeton Anna Bolena at Teatro El Liceu (Barcelona) with Editha Gruberova and Elina Garanca, Isabella Italiana in Algeri (Teatro Regio, Torino), and La Maman, La Tasse chinoise, La Libellule L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (Palermo and Naples). With Jordi Savall she performed Vivaldi’s Farnace (Madrid) & Teuzzone (El Liceu, Barcelona).
Alongside the baroque repertoire, Sonia Prina has made her debut in a more romantic repertoire with roles including Quickly Falstaff in Parma and Turin with conductors D. Renzetti and R. Frizza, Federica Luisa Miller and Beethoven 9th symphony at the at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms.
Sonia Prina is particularly fond of Handel and has performed his works wildly including the title roles of: Giulio Cesare (Dresden), Orlando (Sidney, Paris, Dresden), Tamerlano (Munich) Amadigi (Naples), Rinaldo (Zurich, La Scala and Glyndebourne), Silla (Rome). Subsequent handel roles performed are Bradamante Alcina (Paris), Polinesso Ariodante (Barcelona and San Francisco), Bertarido Rodelinda (London and Vienna), Goffredo Rinaldo (Chicago), Amastre Serse (San Francisco and Houston).
Sonia performs the Monteverdi operas Trilogy in which she sings Ottone L’Incoronazione di Poppea with Rinaldo Alessandrini, Penelope Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria with Ottavio Dantone, Messaggera and Speranza Orfeo with William Christie in Madrid Teatro Real.
A fine recitalist, in 2017 she is “artist in residence” at the Wigmore Hall, London, where she regularly gives recital every year since 2012.
She also performs recitals all over Europe, South America and Japan, with orchestras such as the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Il Giardino Armonico, Accademia Bizantina, Le Concert d’Astrée, Europa Galante, Kammerorchester Basel, Ensemble Matheus.
Miss Prina is regularly invited to return at La Scala in Milan, Théâtre des Champs Elysées and Opéra National de Paris, Teatro Real of Madrid and Teatro el Liceu in Barcelona, Sydney Opera, Barbican Centre, London, Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera, Munich Staatsoper, Salzburg Festival, Aix en Provence Festival, Zurich Opera.
Recognised as an Italian artist, Miss Prina was invited to sing Vivaldi’s Magnificat at the Vatican under the baton of Zhang Xian for S.S. Pope Benedict XVI and the Italian president Mr Giorgio Napolitano.
Her vast discography includes Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno and La Resurrezione (Virgin), Vivaldi’s Senna festeggiante and L’Olimpiade (Naïve), title role Ottone in Villa by Vivaldi (Naïve Vivaldi Edition). We also mention a solo album Vivaldi’s Arie Ritrovate (Naïve).Monteverdi’s Orfeo (Erato), Handel’s Lotario (DHM) and Rodelinda (Deutsche Grammophon), the title roles in Gluck’s Ezio and Handel’s Ezio (Erato).
DVDs counts the title role Ascanio in Alba (Deutsche Grammophon), La Pietra di Paragone (Naïve) and title-role Rinaldo (DVD Opus Arte).
Recently released by Glossa label have been three new albums: Handel’s Catone and Handel’s Silla where Miss Prina sings the title roles, and a new solo album with Gluck’s rediscovered arias.
Rules for the 2018 competition for female voice (Mezzo-Soprano / Contralto)Download PDF