Frockwatch 2009: Song Prize final

The Song Prize finalists. Photo © Brian Tarr

St David's Hall always seems a vast place when the Song Prize Final moves there from the more intimate New Theatre. Just a piano and soloist on a stage that usually houses a full orchestra must be quite unnerving for the singers.

The first contestant onstage didn't have a chance to be nervous. When Tomislav Lučić was not well enough to take part, Eri Nakamura stepped into the breach with only ten hours' notice. In fact her accompanist had to race back from London.

She clearly travels with a fine selection of dresses as her outfit was very lovely. Since most of her songs involved flowers, the choice of dusky rose was perfect. Strapless, tightly fitted and draped, her dress was elegant and womanly. Watch the frock in our photo gallery.

Yuriy Mynenko chose songs in several languages and his diction was excellent in all of them. They were songs of emotion and he took us by the hand so that, even if you didn't understand the words, you understood the passion. See Yuriy in action in our photo gallery.

Javier Arrey chose quite a challenging programme. He has a rich operatic voice and a confident presence onstage. This suited Dvorak's Biblical Songs particularly well and Javier and Simon Lepper, his accompanist, gave a rattling ride through Erlkönig. See Javier in our photo gallery.

Jan Martiník has a big presence onstage but has the ability to to appear gentle, fragile almost. He is a natural communicator and gave the audience a sense of 'safeness' - not in a dull way but a feeling that you could stay all evening and listen to his storytelling. See Jan in our photo gallery.

Last on was Natalya Romaniw who, of course, had full audience support as the home contestant. Her dress was a glorious baroque creation in dark red velvet (please don't be fooled by the photograph, think wine red). It was ruched and nipped to make you feel it could possibly stand up on its own while not inhibiting Natalya's movement at all. Indeed it also managed to suit her song choices too.

Natalya was clearly comfortable onstage, giving emotion to the songs of emotion and characterisation to Britten's Oliver Cromwell and to those saucy maids of Cadiz. See the frock in our photo gallery.

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