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Glyndebourne launches international Opera Cup with Sky Arts

Madama Butterfly at Glyndebourne. Photo: Tristram Kenton Madama Butterfly at Glyndebourne. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Glyndebourne opera house has launched an international singing competition to be shown on television later this year.

Each stage of the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup, which comes with a £15,000 prize, will be broadcast on Sky Arts.

However, at the competition launch, the opera house’s general director Sebastian Schwarz insisted that it would not be similar to other TV talent shows, and that there would be no “red button” or “trapdoors”.

Entrants will be assessed by a panel of judges, headed by Schwarz, alongside the directors of several major opera houses around the world. Retired opera star Janet Baker, who began her career at Glyndebourne, will act as honorary president.

As well as the prize money, the overall winner will be guaranteed a role at one of the eight opera houses represented on the panel, although this may not happen until five years after the win because of the “long planning times in opera”.

The partner opera companies include Opera Philadelphia, Teatro La Fenice in Venice and Komische Oper Berlin.

The competition will be held biennially, and will focus on a different composer or theme each time, with eligibility criteria and age limit changing to suit the theme. This year it is based around Mozart, and the upper age limit is 28.

Schwarz, who devised the competition, said: “I’ve been on the judging panels of a number of singing competitions and have seen what works and what doesn’t. When I arrived at Glyndebourne, with its giant reputation for discovering exceptional talent, it seemed an incredible opportunity to design the perfect singing competition from scratch.

He added: “Our ambition is to establish the Glyndebourne Opera Cup as among the premiere competitions of its kind.”

Director of Sky Arts, Phil Edgar-Jones, said: “Sky Arts has had a long association with Glyndebourne over the years and, as opera enthusiasts, we are always keen to break new ground and seek out new audiences for this unique art form. We’re sure it’ll hit the right note with our audience.”

The competition was announced as Glyndebourne revealed its 2018 festival programme, including the UK’s first professional production of Samuel Barber’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Vanessa and Claude Debussy’s only opera Pelleas et Melisande.

Applications for the singing competition open later this year, and it will culminate in March 2018.

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