In case you haven't already heard, the purtiest lady won. Presciently described by Mark Padmore as "a real winner" earlier in the week, Valentina Naforniţă took home the title of Cardiff Singer of the World 2011 today. In a rare double, the 24 year old from Moldova also scooped the Audience Prize, aka the popularity contest. She gets a tidy £15,000 to go with that twinkly vase.
The extract from her earlier round below was uploaded by Cardiff's very own opera blogger, Hairman, who has been dutifully reporting on proceedings all week. After watching the final live, Intermezzo's sterling reporter Carole is taking her first evening off, but she may have time to share a few impressions tomorrow.
Reader Carole spent last night watching the final of the Song Prize, aka the consolation prize. Carry on reading to find out who won (the picture above is a fairly big clue......). She also comments on the difference between the live and broadcast sound - an issue that will no doubt crop up again when the Proms begin.
Once again, reader HairMan brings us the lowdown on the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, live (ish) from Wales. Last night he watched the Song Prize Final, which will be broadcast on BBC4 next week.
Although officially it's a separate contest, the Song Prize is widely considered to be a sort of second place. At any rate, the Song winner rarely goes on to take the Big One. Think about that before you turn over the page - you have been warned.............
While I've been sitting around at home contemplating the odd round on TV from the comfort of my sofa, reader HairMan has been on the spot in Cardiff itself, closely glued to every second of contest action.
That means he gets to hear every single song, not just the highlights picked for BBC4, and he can assess the singers without the flattery of BBC 'aural enhancement'. Live! From Cardiff!
Here's his report on Round 5 (televised tonight), and also the judges' selection of the five singers who make it through to Sunday's final.
L-R Katharine Tier, Javier Arrey, Jan Martiník, Vira Slywotzky, Natalya Romaniw
One singer stood head and shoulders above the others tonight in more ways than one, and that was the supersized Czech bass Jan Martiník, the eventual winner. What an exquisitely beautiful voice, and what wonderful ease of line. Like being drip-fed chocolate mousse. An excellent choice of repertoire too - he really knows what suits him best. And so composed! He really didn't put a foot wrong.
What about the others?
Wagner's Im Treibhaus was a perfect showcase for Katharine Tier's dark, lush mezzo. But she scuppered her competition chances with the completely unsuitable Dopo Notte, which demands an agility she simply doesn't possess. Like manoeuvring a tank up a garden path.
Baritone Javier Arrey's Dvořák song was another programming mistake, neatly demonstrating a shaky lower range otherwise well-hidden. Here's his more impressive Largo al factotum, not shown on BBC4.
The Welsh competitor Natalya Romaniw isn't a great singer yet - she's only 22 - but what a confident, expressive performer. I could imagine her walking straight into an operatic role.
No surprise to hear that Vira Slywotsky is a great Broadway fan. Her Non mi Dir was Mozart as musical theatre - excruciatingly calculated. Is she in the wrong job? Some credit is due I suppose for eschewing the Cardiff uniform - suburban bridesmaid circa 1974 - though I'm not sure the wash'n'wear toga is a huge improvement.
I'm loving the Mary King bits too - what a rare pleasure to hear someone on the BBC who's so enthusiastic about singing and really knows what they're talking about. Why, she could probably even teach Petroc Trelawney how to pronounce 'Salzburg'.
L-R Dawid Kimberg, Ji-Min Park, Ekaterina Shcherbachenko, Anna Stephany, Octavio Moreno
I'm not planning to be glued this year's Cardiff Singer of the World contest, but thanks to the pointless poxy tube strike I did at least manage to catch the second round on BBC4 earlier on.
The right person won tonight. It's hard enough for a singer to truly connect with an audience in the concert hall, and it's near impossible on TV, but Ekaterina Shcherbachenko hit the spot. The odd technical flaw surfaced, but she lived every moment of her letter scene from Onegin - what a generous, heartfelt performance. (Watch the video here, more videos here.) I liked her quirky Mozart too - she's certainly not afraid to place a personal stamp on even the most hallowed of repertoire.
I enjoyed Anna Stephany's performance too, especially her very accomplished Dopo Notte, but her comparative lack of operatic experience showed in her reserve.
Dawid Kimberg and Ji-Min Park both worked just a little too hard to convince, and Octavio Moreno perhaps not quite enough. It's a tough balance to get right.