out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Finally the wait is over. After four long years in exile without an audience, Cardiff Singer of the World is back, and is celebrating its 40th anniversary, along with that of its host since the first competition in 1983, St David’s Hall, the national concert hall of Wales.

Having been fortunate enough to see the Welsh representative, soprano Jessica Robinson, at a recent lunchtime concert, I was very much looking forward to Heat 2 of the main prize in which Jessica had been placed, together with her fellow competitors Toni Nezic (bass, Croatia); Meigui Zhang (soprano, China) and Ogulcan Yilmaz (bass-bariton, Turkey). The judges for the evening were Sir Brian McMaster, former director of the Edinburgh International Festival, Argentinian mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink, Welsh soprano Rosemany Joshua, multi-award -winning composer Errollyn Wallen, and returning as chair of the jury, Aidan Lang, general director of Welsh National Opera. The singers were accompanied by the National Orchestra of Wales.

First to perform was Meigui Zhang.  Meigui is an elegant singer, who clearly enjoys throwing herself into operatic roles. Her mellifluous tones rang out around the Hall. Her choices of Donizetti, Bizet and Lehar suited her voice type well, though a greater variety would have been welcome.

Ogulcan Yilmaz followed, with a selection by Rachmaninov, Mozart and Bellini. Ogulcan stated that he had been successful in making the heats after a few attempts, and the experience will have been highly valuable for him. Again, a wider choice of repertoire might have been beneficial in order to experience the vocal variation in style.

Next came Jessica Robinson, to rapturous applause for the “home girl”.  Jessica was the only singer to select five pieces (by Donizetti, Mozart, Verdi, Grieg and Jonathan Dove) and much thought had clearly been given to breadth of style and showcasing of technical skill and range. The audience clearly enjoyed this performance immensely, and Jessica’s ability to engage her audience via her pure theatricality was  palpable.

Toni Nezic was the final contestant, with a repertoire of Halevy, Verdi and Bellini. His warm bass tones, demonstration of range and ability to capture the audience worked well for him, and he will no doubt go far in his operatic career.

As ever, The National Orchestra of Wales, under the baton of Ryan Bancroft, accompanied each of the performers beautifully, and played no small part in enhancing the enjoyment of the evening.

Jessica Robinson emerged as a worthy winner, to the delight of the audience. She will be an excellent representative for the host nation in Sunday’s final. Good luck Jess!


  1. I recently read your review titled “Cardiff Singer of the World Competition Heat 2 – 12 June 2023” on the Get the Chance website, and I wanted to commend you on your thoughtful analysis and engaging portrayal of the event.

    Your review provided a vivid description of the performances and atmosphere during Heat 2 of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. I appreciate how you not only shared your impressions of the contestants’ vocal abilities but also highlighted their stage presence and connection with the audience.

    Your attention to detail and insightful commentary on each performer’s strengths and areas for improvement showcased your deep appreciation for the art of singing. It was evident that you thoroughly enjoyed the evening and immersed yourself in the world of music and talent.

    I particularly enjoyed your description of the diverse repertoire presented by the contestants, which added variety and showcased the versatility of the singers. Your commentary on the judges’ feedback and their valuable insights into vocal techniques further enriched the review.

    Additionally, I appreciate how you acknowledged the efforts of the organizers and volunteers who made the event possible. Recognizing their contributions adds a layer of appreciation for the behind-the-scenes work that goes into hosting such a prestigious competition.

    Your review not only provided an informative recap of the performances but also captured the excitement and energy of the evening. It allows readers to experience the event vicariously and fosters a sense of connection with the competition and its participants.

    Thank you for sharing your insights and impressions of Heat 2 of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Your review is a testament to your passion for music and your ability to convey the magic of live performances through your writing.

    I look forward to reading more of your reviews and experiencing other cultural events through your engaging perspectives.

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