tue 22/10/2019

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, St David's Hall | reviews, news & interviews

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, St David's Hall

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, St David's Hall

Voice competition won by Moldovan and Ukrainian also reveals best of British

Valentina Naforniţă: Vivid, engaging and a candid beauty

The Cardiff Singer of the World may or may not be (as several of this year’s competitors seemed to think) the most important voice competition in the universe, but it must surely be the nicest. The Welsh really do believe, perhaps rightly, that they invented singing; and to hear the whole St David’s Hall uplifted in “Land of My Fathers” at the end of Sunday’s final was a heartwarming experience – almost as much as to see the four losing finalists applauding the winner, the Moldovan soprano Valentina Naforniţă, as if they were honestly pleased she’d won, though at least two of them must have been bitterly disappointed.

This is a voice in a million, with rich, warm colouring across the whole range and unfailing musical adaptability

Share this article


Hear, hear! Agree with everything you say. And if the perceived sheer niceness of the competition, as well as the animation of its very warm audience, comes over even better live than it does on telly, it must be a very special experience. Do wish I'd heard/seen more of the earlier rounds, though; fortunately many of these singers' earlier performances can be recaptured on YouTube

What a wonderful week. Why doesn't the BBC take more advantage of having these great singers to hand? - Perhaps get each to record a recital and broadcast over the next 12-24 months? - better than most of the rubbish they put on the telly!

I enjoyed the warmth in the speech gven by the small Welsh-speaking woman with glasses... Why all the comments about, in particular, Naforniţă's looks? Is the physical beauty of the contestants, and the perceived implications for box office receipts, a factor in judgement at singing competitions? It's not the singer's beauty, nor, even the beauty of the voice (think Callas!) that engages audiences in the long term, but their communication skills. I wish the BBC would televise the song prize heats, as well as those for the main prize; art song is, I think, more popular than they know.

"despite Valentina Naforniţă kissing each of the seven judges twice, once for each prize (why didn’t she kiss the audience for the audience prize?)" Kissing on both cheeks is cultural stereotype in Romania. :)

And in fact on her first win - the audience prize - she rather formally shook hands with all except the Italian - so, goddamit, she deserved to kiss them all twic when she took the Big 'Un.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.