06.07.2017 | 13:09

Exclusive interview with the President of the Contest “Belvedere” Isabella Gabor and its General Director Holger Black

"The International Hans Gabor Belvedere Opera Competition" is finishing today. For the first time in 36 years its final is celebrating in Russia, at the Helikon Opera Theatre. 138 contestants from 42 countries came to Moscow, the best of 15 opera singers will fight for the main prize.

On the eve of the final, Anna Galinskaya, the columnist of the Website of TV channel “Russia – Culture”, interviewed the President of the Contest “Belvedere” Isabella Gabor and its General Director Holger Black.

AG: The contest is 36 years old. As far as I know, it was your husband's idea to launch a contest for opera singers. How did you start?

Isabella Gabor: In 1982 my husband Hans Gabor was in charge of the Chamber Opera Theatre of Vienna, working with many young opera singers. Watching them closely, he came to a conclusion that it was necessary to come up with a special contest for them. No sooner said than done. We don't have any vocalists, musicologists and conductors in the jury, as usual, but people who can give a job to the singers - directors of the theatres, agencies and entrepreneurs.

AG: For 30 years the contest has been held in Vienna, and for 5 years already is going from one country to another. What is the reason?

Holger Black: We thought that the contest was international, taking part in it vocalists from many countries of the world. So since 2013, we could celebrate the final tours in the Netherlands, South Africa, Germany and now we are in Russia. Believe me, it’s a lot of work to organize such a contest.

AG: Each year in the "Belvedere" take part hundreds of singers. Can you know who will be the winner? How it was this year?

IG: We can never predict anything. Before the competition and during it, all the contestants can sound quite different.

HB: Speaking about the statistics, this year, the most of 138 participants come from Russia, because we are in Moscow. Next comes Poland and South Korea. It often happened that the final reached the representatives from the countries, that we never imagined they could sing. For example, in 2005 the winner was from South Africa.   

AG: What do you pay attention for while listening to the contestants?

HB: The jury not only listens to the voice. They also consider the look of the person, how he is moving, how does he feel the stage, how does he look at the stage.

AG: I need to ask you if you know something about the contest "The Big Opera” organized by the TV channel “Russia-Culture”?

IG: Of course we know! Dmitry Bertman, the head of “Helikon”, often speaks about it, as he is in our and yours jury (laughing). To be honest, I’ve never seen a contest, but I've heard a lot about it.

AG: There are a lot of vocal contests in the world. You always speak about it. Should they be a lot or such a competition is not so good?

IG: The competition is always good, in all the areas. It makes you think, look for new solutions. The world is big, and the number of the singers is enormous, that’s why we should have a lot of contests.

HB: I can look banal, but anyway all the people are different. Each contest has its advantages. So let's sing and fight for the first place.