Winners Announced

  • Keon-Woo Kim from South Korea and Elsa Dreisig from France are the First Prize Winners

  • Singers from Rusia, United States, Mexico and Kosovo were also awarded

  • Mexican baritone Juan Carlos Heredia and american bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee won “Don Placido Domingo Ferrer” Zarzuela prize

  • Keon-Woo Kim and Elena Stikhina were voted as favourites by the audience

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico; July 24th, 2016.- Tenor Keon-Woo Kim from South Korea and soprano Elsa Dreisig from France have just been announced as First Prize winners of the 2016 edition of Operalia, the international Opera competition founded by Plácido Domingo.

After 22 years absence, Operalia returned to Mexico. The Ministry of Culture of Mexico, The Secretary of Culture of the State of Jalisco, the sovereign State of Jalisco and the legendary Teatro Degollado in the city of Guadalajara, which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary, hosted the internationally renowned competition.

The Final Concert featured 12 of the most promising voices in the opera world today, from Canada, France, Italy, Kosovo, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine and the United States of America. Their performances were accompanied by the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Plácido Domingo.

The gala was followed by an award ceremony, where Plácido Domingo presented prizes in seven categories:

  • Two First Prizes - Male/Female - US$30,000.00

  • Two Second Prizes - Male/Female - US$20.000.00

  • Two Third Prizes - Male/Female - US$10.000.00

  • Two Birgit Nilsson Prizes - Male/Female - US$15.000.00

  • The Pepita Embil Prize of Zarzuela - US$10.000.00

  • The Don Plácido Domingo Ferrer Prize of Zarzuela - US$10.000.00

  • Two Audience Prizes - Male/Female - A watch offered by Rolex

  • The Culturarte Prize Chosen and offered by Bertita & Guillermo Martinez from CulturArte de Puerto Rico - US$10.000.00

Founded in 1993 to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today, Operalia attracts singers of all voice types from every country in the world ranging from 18 to 32 years of age, to be heard by a panel of some of the most influential empresarios in the international Opera industry.

The 40 contestants facing the challenge this year came from 16 different countries, including Canada, France, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. The group was prominently formed by sopranos and tenors, and with a good representation by mezzo-sopranos, and baritones. One bass, one bass-baritone and one countertenor completed the roster.

The competition is hosted by a different city every year. The first contest was held in Paris in 1993 and then moved to Mexico City and other cities such as Beijing, Bordeaux, Budapest, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Quebec, Tokyo, Verona, Los Angeles and London, among others.

The long list of artists who have won Operalia prizes attest to its success in discovering, launching and nurturing great talent. Some of the winners who have firmly established themselves in the world of opera include the great Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, the world-famous mezzo-soprano from the United States, Joyce DiDonato; the Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, Puerto-Rican soprano Ana María Martínez, and the soprano from Bulgaria, Sonya Yoncheva. Operalia is also proud to celebrate Mexican tenors Arturo Chacón Cruz, David Lomelí and Rolando Villazón, as well as Mexican soprano María Katzarava, among the talented voices who have made outstanding careers on the most important stages in the world.

Rolex is proud to present Operalia, the World Opera Competition, for the 15th consecutive year, perpetuating its commitment to the arts. Plácido Domingo has been a Rolex Testimonee since 1982, and Rolex is delighted to extend its support to the exceptionally gifted young performers who share its quest for excellence and perfection.

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Media Contact

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T +52 (55) 5207-3330

Carla Gavito,

Miguel Alcántara,

Winners, Operalia 2016

First Prize – Male

South Korea, Keon-Woo Kim, tenor

First Prize – Female

France, Elsa Dreisig, soprano

Second Prize – Male

Russia, Bogdan Volkov, tenor

Second Prize – Female

USA/Italy, Marina Costa-Jackson, soprano

Third Prize – Male

Kosovo, Rame Lahaj, tenor

Third Prize – Female

Ukraine, Olga Kulchynska, soprano

Birgit Nilsson Prize – Male

USA, Brenton Ryan, tenor

The Pepita Embil Prize of Zarzuela

USA/Italy, Marina Costa-Jackson, soprano

The Don Plácido Domingo Ferrer Prize of Zarzuela

Mexico, Juan Carlos Heredia, baritone

USA, Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone

Audience Prize – Male

South Korea, Keon-Woo Kim, tenor

Audience Prize – Female

Russia, Elena Stikhina, soprano

Culturarte Prize

Russia, Elena Stikhina, soprano

Jury members, Operalia 2016

Marta Domingo

Stage Director

F. Paul Driscoll

Editor in Chief, Opera News

Anthony Freud

General Director, Lyric Opera of Chicago, USA

Jonathan Friend

Artistic Administrator, The Metropolitan Opera, New York, USA

Jean-Louis Grinda

General Director, Opéra de Monte Carlo, Monaco

General Director, Chorégies d’Orange, France

Peter Katona

Casting Director, Royal Opera House, London, United Kingdom

Joan Matabosch

Artistic Director, Teatro Real, Madrid, Spain

Marco Parisotto

Music Director, Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, Mexico

Music Director, Ontario Philharmonic, Canada

Andrés Rodriguez

Artistic Consultant

Ilias Tzempetonidis

Casting Director, Opéra National de Paris, France

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