Since its first edition nine years ago, the International Otto Edelmann Singing Competition – Vienna has developed into the opera capital of Vienna’s most important competition for operatic voices. Even so, what makes this competition truly special is the patronage of the mdw in collaboration with the ottoedelmannsociety. The mdw, after all, has been training singers since day one. It therefore seemed obvious to organise an on-site singing competition here in which students would be able to measure themselves against the international “competition” with a certain home field advantage.

The seventh edition of this contest (following a two-year break due to the pandemic) involved 90 artists from 30 nations. The overall level was enormously high—and only the very best succeeded in qualifying for the final round, which was accompanied by the Webern Kammerphilharmonie under the baton of Vladimir Kiradjiev.

The preliminary rounds took place in the Joseph Haydn-Saal, while the finale graced the newly renovated Ehrbar-Saal for the first time. Since the jury was comprised of experts who all occupy top-level positions at agencies and opera houses, this competition had the great advantage of being judged not by singer-colleagues, but rather exclusively by agents and casting directors. This frequently leads to engagements regardless of whether their fortunate recipients actually make it into the final round—as was the case this time, as well. Immediately after the initial rounds, invitations to auditions and working rehearsals were already being sent out!

This year’s jury was comprised of Samantha Farber (agent), Robert Körner (Casting Director, Vienna State Opera), Esther Schollum (agent), Erich Seitter (agent and consultant), and Carolin Wielpütz (Artistic Director, Theater an der Wien).

An impressive number of our past editions’ participants and prize-winners have, to our great delight, succeeded in using this competition as a stepping stone and are now at home on international concert stages. And since all of this year’s rounds were open to the public, all of our students were able to attend and experience that special competition atmosphere for what was perhaps the very first time.

The first two rounds produced nine finalists from seven nations who performed in the final concert on 24 April following two full days of rehearsals. This concert is always a very suspenseful and interesting evening for the audience, as well, not least because they have their very own prize to award—and the Ehrbar-Saal was completely packed.

Victory was claimed by the powerful bass In-Ho Jeong (South Korea), who was awarded the 1st prize (€ 5,000) and the Audience Prize (€ 2,000, sponsored by the bank Hypo Vorarlberg). The 2nd prize (€ 3,000) went to the baritone Jan Zadlo (Poland), while soprano Gabriela Hrzenjak (Croatia) took the 3rd prize (€ 1,000). As for our competition’s special prizes, tenor Christopher Sokolowski (USA) won the Hermann Leopoldi Music Prize, and the Spanish soprano Aitana Sanz—who is currently studying for her master’s degree with Krassimira Stoyanova—won the Bechstein Prize.

Kammersänger Otto Edelmann, a Viennese bass whose career took him to the world’s most important opera houses and festivals with legendary interpretations as Ochs auf Lerchenau in the Der Rosenkavalier and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, was himself a student at the Academy of Music and then a teacher at the Hochschule for Music and Performing Arts (both of them predecessors to today’s mdw). He would have taken great joy in the development of “his” singing competition.

The final round at the mdwMediathek:

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