Catriona Morison wins BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition

Published: June 19, 2017


Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate Catriona Morison has been crowned the winner of one of the world’s most prestigious opera competitions. The mezzo soprano triumphed in the grand final of the week-long BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition at St David’s Hall in Cardiff on Sunday, June 18.

The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition is a globally recognised showcase for the finest young international opera and concert singers at the start of their careers. Catriona was one of 400 entrants before being selected for the final 20 alongside fellow Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduates Anush Hovhannisyan and Dominic Barberi.

Catriona was chosen as one of the competition’s final five joining Louise Alder, a soprano from England, Kang Wang, a tenor from Australia, Anthony Clark Evans, a baritone from the USA and Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar, a baritone from Mongolia. Catriona also won the Cardiff Singer of the World Song prize which she shares with Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar.

The final’s judging panel was made up of director of Welsh National Opera David Pountney, mezzo soprano Grace Bumbry, soprano Sumi Jo, baritone Wolfgang Holzmair and conductor Anu Tali.

Catriona, from Edinburgh, is a member of the ensemble at Wuppertal Opera in Germany. She was a member of the Junior Conservatoire of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as a joint first study singer and violist. She went on to study for her BMus (Hons) and PGDip Opera Studies at the Royal Conservatoire and graduated from the institution’s Alexander Gibson Opera School in 2013 with a MMus Opera with Distinction. Catriona became a Samling Artist in her final year at the Alexander Gibson Opera School.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We are thrilled to see Catriona recognised as the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World following her stunning performance. It is an outstanding achievement and very well deserved. The competition brings together the most exciting operatic talent in the world and to have three alumni in the final is a source of immense pride for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.”

Professor Timothy Dean, Head of Opera at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Performing in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition is the pinnacle for emerging opera singers and we send our heartiest congratulations to Catriona – we are delighted to see her recognised as one of the finest singers of her generation.

“Congratulations also must go to Anush and Dominic for making the final 20 of the competition which is a tribute to their excellence. It has been wonderful to watch Catriona, Anush and Dominic all develop into world-class artists.”

The trio returned to the Royal Conservatoire in May to rehearse for the competition and to receive intensive and expert tuition from their RCS coaches before performing in a closed concert for students and staff.

Celebrating the success of mezzo soprano Catriona Morison at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition at St David’s Hall in Cardiff on Sunday June 18, her teacher, Professor Stephen Robertson, Head of Vocal Performance at RCS, had this to say:

“I have to confess that I shed a tear of sheer joy when Catriona Morison was announced as the winner of Cardiff Singer of the World, having watched her performing. Pardon the cliché, but it really could not have happened to a nicer person. Not only that but such a clearly deserving person. Thinking about her inspiring singing made me think of Callas.

Of course I don’t mean that Catriona is some kind of recreation of Maria Callas, – I can almost hear Catriona’s warm laugh at such a thought. But the unfailing integrity and direct honesty of Catriona’s performances clearly put communication of character, moment, place, time and mood as highest priority. Delivered with intense authority. Derived from depth of study and preparation. All her admirable vocal and musical resources were at the service of communication. She took risks. She dared to do things which drew us in and moved us. Catriona Morison is now a highly significant singer in her own right, but her approach to her artistry really does compare to that of the twentieth century’s greatest singer.

I, and all of us here at RCS, are so proud that we played some role in nurturing these attitudes. Catriona deserves all the credit though. Such bravery in such stressful conditions….to sing that programme of the Rossini, Strauss and Ravel with amazingly fresh refinement, and then top those with Dido’s great Lament was masterly. The Purcell leaves a singer absolutely nowhere to hide…..that noble, sustained line and simplicity of utterance make formidable requirements on a singer – more so than any show-stopper. Catriona showed herself as a truly individual and rather magnificent, powerful singing-actress. We send her our warmest congratulations. Scotland has a daughter who has brought great credit to the country, and the whole of Scotland is uplifted by her success.

We were delighted when we heard that three of our Alumni, Dominic Barberi, Anush Hovhanisyan, and Catriona were to be taking part in the televised finals of the competition. We were then very excited by Catriona winning (jointly) the song prize. Now….well, what can I say except, ‘fan-bloody-tastic…..well done Catriona!’ Scotland salutes you!!”