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Cardiff Singer History

Founded in 1983, the competition is now an essential part of the international musical calendar.

1983: The biennial contest, which is organised by BBC Wales, was first held in July 1983 to celebrate the opening of St David's Hall in Cardiff and is now generally regarded as the most important operatic competition in the world.

There were 18 singers in the first year, each nominated by their local broadcasting organisation. Competing on the very first evening was the now legendary Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, who went on to win the competition. Notable amongst the seven-strong jury was the late Sir Geraint Evans, who was a member of the adjudicating panel for the first three competitions.

1985: The competition was increased in size - 24 contestants took part and the American baritone David Malis was the winner. This year, the biennial competition was held in June for the first time, where it has remained ever since.

1987: The intake of competitors was raised to 25, and the competition was won by Italian soprano Valeria Esposito. Notable amongst other finalists were Soile Isokoski (Finland) and Iris Vermillion (Germany) who have since gone on to considerable careers. The late Professor Shen Xiang made his first appearance on the jury.

1989: A number of changes were made. The Lieder Prize was introduced, there were 29 contestants and, for the first time, the finalists were the best singers overall, rather than the winners of individual rounds. South America was represented for the first time, and BBC Two broadcast the final live for the first time.

This outstanding year featured the legendary Battle of the Baritones with Bryn Terfel winning the Lieder prize and Dmitri Hvorostovsky taking the overall title. Among the other finalists were Monica Groop (Finland) and Hillevi Martinpelto (Sweden) who are both now major artists.

1991: The numbers were reduced to 25 - five singers per night with five finalists. The Lieder prize was won by another Welshman, Neal Davies, Australian soprano Lisa Gasteen won the final which also included Isabelle Vernet (France), Franz Hawlata (Germany) and Randi Stene (Denmark), all of whom have gone on to significant operatic careers.

1993: Two major innovations were introduced in the 10th anniversary year: worldwide auditions and master classes held by jury members. Dame Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne sat on the jury for the first time.

The competition was won by Danish soprano Inger Dam-Jensen - who did not win her concert round. New Zealand baritone Paul Whelan took the Lieder prize and other finalists included Vasily Gerello (Russia) and Nina Stemme (Sweden), now major international artists.

1995: The re-emergence of countries from the former Soviet Union brought contestants from Lithuania and Georgia to the 1995 competition. The Finnish soprano Kirsi Tiihonen took the Lieder prize and Swedish mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus won a thrilling final.

1997: The first ever English competitor to reach the final - baritone Christopher Maltman - went on to win the Lieder prize. The winner was the Chinese mezzo-soprano Guang Yang, who was singing with a professional orchestra for the very first time. Such was the demand for tickets for the final that a 600-seat pavilion complete with giant television screens was built in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. Also competing was Canadian bass-baritone John Relyea, who has gone on to enjoy major success.

1999: The Lieder prize was won by baritone Dae-San No from South Korea, a new country to the competition, with the main prize going to the German soprano Anja Harteros. Among the jury was another operatic legend, Italian tenor Carlo Bergonzi. This was the first year that the competition had its own website.

2001: Dame Joan Sutherland returned to the jury for the fifth time and Marilyn Horne for the third. This year saw history made when the 27-year-old Romanian tenor Marius Brenciu won both the Song Prize and what by now had become the most coveted title in the world of opera. Elīna Garanča, the Latvian mezzo-soprano, was one of the favourites for the title and she has subsequently become an opera superstar.

2003: To celebrate the 20th anniversary year, a number of changes were made. These include the separation of the Song Prize into a separate event, the introduction of an Audience Prize and the announcement of Dame Joan Sutherland as the competition's patron. The winner was Finnish baritone Tommi Hakala, making Finland the most successful country in the competition to date. The Song Prize was won by Irish soprano Ailish Tynan and the Audience Prize by Chilean soprano Angela Marambio.

2005: Following the success of its introduction in 2003, the Song Prize was extended to have its own final. The winner was American soprano Nicole Cabell, who was signed up for a major recording contract shortly after the competition. The Song Prize went to an Englishman for the second time, tenor Andrew Kennedy. The Korean soprano, Ha-Joung Lee, won the hotly-contested Audience Prize.

There was a rule change whereby more than one competitor could be selected from certain countries with very large populations. In 2005, this resulted in two competitors representing the USA.

2007: The competition was won by a Chinese competitor for the second time. Shenyang was a popular winner, and the first bass-baritone to take the prize. Once again, England dominated in the Song Prize, with soprano Elizabeth Watts winning. Jacques Imbrailo, South African baritone, won the Audience Prize.

2009: Soprano Ekaterina Scherbachenko was the first singer from the Russian Federation to win the competition since the legendary Dmitri Hvorostovsky represented the USSR in 1989. The Song Prize was won by the Czech bass, Jan Martiník and Italian tenor Giordano Lucà was awarded the Audience Prize.

2011: Valentina Naforniţă was the first Moldovan competitor to win the competition. The soprano was also the first choice of the audience, who voted for her to receive the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize, renamed this year in honour of the competition's late patron.

In another first, Switzerland's Olga Kindler was the first reserve competitor to reach a final. She took part in the Song Prize final, which was won by Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa became the second Patron of the competition, following the death of Dame Joan Sutherland the previous year.

2013: To celebrate the 30th anniversary year, there were a number of changes, the biggest of which was to the audition process. Over 400 entrants submitted DVDs, which were longlisted to 52. An audition panel listened to them all in person in international auditions.

There was also another change to the rules. The 2005 rule about multiple competitors from large countries had proved contentious and this was now amended so that up to three competitors from any country could take part.

In 2013, the competition bade a fond farewell to Anna Williams, the competition’s administrator since its inception in 1983. Anna’s role was at the heart of the competition, and not only from a logistical point of view. She and her team did everything possible to make the competitors’ experience of Cardiff as comfortable as possible, so that all they only have to think about making music.

The winner was mezzo Jamie Barton from the USA, who also won the Song Prize. The Audience Prize was won by the English tenor, Ben Johnson.

2015: For the first time, the competition had its own Artistic Director, former BBC Wales Head of Music and opera aficionado, David Jackson. One of his first achievements was to expand the scope of the competition further into Cardiff life, with new ‘fringe’ events taking place at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff University School of Music and Chapter Arts Centre.

David was already well known to the members of the audience in Cardiff, as he had presented very entertaining pre-performance talks since 2009.

In another first, a Cardiff Singer alumna returned to sit on the jury. Soile Isokoski was a finalist in 1987 and subsequently has had a major international career on both the opera and concert stages.

Belarussian soprano Nadine Koutcher won the main prize, with the Song Prize going to South Korean bass, Jongmin Park. The audience’s favourite was Mongolian baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat,

2017: Ailish Tynan, who was the first winner of the separate Song Prize competition in 2003, returned to the scene of her triumph to sit on the Song Prize jury.

The ‘fringe’ returned after its successful debut in 2015, and was expanded to include events such as a choral master class and a family opera workshop.

Mezzo Catriona Morison was the first competitor from Scotland to become BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. The Song Prize was awarded jointly for the first time, to Mongolian baritone Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar and Catriona Morison. The audience prize went to English soprano Louise Alder.

Hanes Canwr y Byd

1983: Ym mis Gorffennaf 1983, cynhaliwyd y gystadleuaeth ddwyflynyddol, a drefnir gan BBC Cymru Wales, am y tro cyntaf i ddathlu agoriad Neuadd Dewi Sant yng Nghaerdydd. Erbyn hyn, ystyrir mai'r digwyddiad yw'r gystadleuaeth operatig bwysicaf yn y byd.

Roedd 18 o gantorion yn y flwyddyn gyntaf, a phob un wedi'i enwebu gan ei sefydliad darlledu lleol. Ar y noson gyntaf un roedd Katrina Mattila, y soprano o'r Ffindir, yn cystadlu. Aeth ymlaen i ennill y gystadleuaeth ac mae hi bellach yn gantores enwog iawn. Roedd Syr Geraint Evans yn aelod nodedig o’r panel o 7 o feirniaid. Bu ar banel y beirniaid ar gyfer y tair cystadlaeth gyntaf.

1985: Cafodd y gystadleuaeth ei hehangu – fe wnaeth 24 cystadleuydd gymryd rhan a’r enillydd oedd David Malis, y bariton o America. Y flwyddyn hon, cafodd y gystadleuaeth ddwyflynyddol ei chynnal ym mis Mehefin am y tro cyntaf, ac fel hynny y mae wedi bod ers hynny.

1987: Codwyd nifer y cystadleuwyr i 25 ac enillydd y gystadleuaeth oedd Valeria Esposito, y soprano o'r Eidal. Roedd Soile Isokoski (y Ffindir) ac Iris Vermillion (yr Almaen) yn gystadleuwyr nodedig y flwyddyn honno. Maent ill dwy wedi cael gyrfaoedd llewyrchus iawn ers hynny. Fe ymddangosodd y diweddar Athro Shen Xiang ar banel y beirniaid am y tro cyntaf.

1989: Gwnaed nifer o newidiadau. Cyflwynwyd y Wobr Lieder ac roedd 29 o gystadleuwyr. Hefyd, am y tro cyntaf, y rhai a oedd yn mynd ymlaen i'r rownd derfynol oedd y cantorion gorau o'r cwbl, yn hytrach nag enillwyr y rowndiau unigol. Cynrychiolwyd De America am y tro cyntaf ac fe ddarlledwyd y rownd derfynol yn fyw ar BBC Two am y tro cyntaf.

Dyma'r flwyddyn y gwelsom y digwyddiad bythgofiadwy hwnnw – Brwydr y Baritoniaid – pan enillodd Bryn Terfel y Wobr Lieder a phan gipiodd Dmitri Hvorostovsky y prif deitl. Ymysg y cantorion eraill a gyrhaeddodd y rownd derfynol oedd Monica Groop (y Ffindir) a Hillevi Martinpelto (Sweden) sydd ill dwy yn artistiaid nodedig erbyn hyn.

1991: Cafodd y niferoedd eu gostwng i 25 - pum canwr bob nos a phump yn mynd ymlaen i'r rownd derfynol. Cymro arall, Neal Davies, enillodd y Wobr Lieder a Lisa Gasteen, y soprano o Awstralia, enillodd y brif wobr yn y rownd derfynol, a oedd hefyd yn cynnwys Isabelle Vernet (Ffrainc), Franz Hawlata (yr Almaen) a Randi Stene (Denmarc), sydd i gyd wedi mynd ymlaen i gael gyrfaoedd llewyrchus ym myd opera.

1993: Cyflwynwyd dau newid arloesol pwysig yn negfed blwyddyn y gystadleuaeth: clyweliadau byd-eang a dosbarthiadau meistr gan y beirniaid. Daeth y Fonesig Joan Sutherland a Marilyn Horne yn rhan o’r panel beirniaid am y tro cyntaf.

Inger Dam-Jensen, y soprano o Ddenmarc, enillodd y gystadleuaeth - er ei bod hi heb ennill ei rownd cyngerdd. Paul Whelan, y bariton o Seland Newydd enillodd y Wobr Lieder ac roedd y cantorion eraill a gyrhaeddodd y rownd derfynol yn cynnwys Vasily Gerello (Rwsia) a Nina Stemme (Sweden), sydd ill dau yn artistiaid rhyngwladol erbyn hyn.

1995: Yn sgil ail-ddyfodiad rhai o wledydd yr Undeb Sofietaidd gynt, cafwyd cystadleuwyr o Lithiwania a Georgia yng nghystadleuaeth 1995. Kirsi Tiihonen, y soprano o’r Ffindir, enillodd y Wobr Lieder a Katarina Karnéus, y mezzo-soprano o Sweden, enillodd y rownd derfynol gyffrous.

1997: Aeth y bariton Christopher Maltman, sef y cystadleuydd cyntaf o Loegr i gyrraedd y rownd derfynol, ymlaen i ennill y Wobr Lieder. Yr enillydd oedd Guang Yang, y mezzo-soprano o Tsieina, a oedd yn canu â cherddorfa broffesiynol am y tro cyntaf erioed. Oherwydd bod cymaint o alw am docynnau, codwyd pafiliwn â 600 o seddi a sgriniau teledu enfawr ynddo ar dir Castell Caerdydd. Roedd John Releya, y bas-bariton o Ganada, hefyd yn cystadlu ac y mae ef wedi mynd ymlaen i gael gyrfa lwyddiannus dros ben.

1999: Y bariton Dae-San No o Dde Corea - gwlad newydd i'r gystadleuaeth - enillodd y Wobr Lieder, a'r soprano o'r Almaen, Anja Harteros enillodd y brif wobr. Ymysg y beirniaid roedd cawr arall o fyd yr opera - y tenor o'r Eidal, Carlo Bergonzi. Dyma'r flwyddyn gyntaf i'r gystadleuaeth gael ei gwefan ei hun.

2001: Dychwelodd y Fonesig Joan Sutherland i banel y beirniaid am y pumed tro, a Marilyn Horne am y trydydd tro. Roedd hon yn flwyddyn hanesyddol oherwydd fe enillodd Marius Brenciu, y tenor 27 oed o Rwmania, Wobr y Gân yn ogystal â’r teitl uchaf ei barch ym myd yr opera erbyn hynny. Roedd Elīna Garanča, y mezzo-soprano o Latfia, yn un o'r ffefrynnau i ennill y teitl, ac mae hi bellach yn seren enfawr ym myd opera.

2003: I ddathlu 20 mlynedd ers dechrau'r gystadleuaeth, gwnaed nifer o newidiadau. Roedd y rhain yn cynnwys gwneud Gwobr y Gân yn ddigwyddiad ar wahân, cyflwyno Gwobr y Gynulleidfa a phennu'r Fonesig Joan Sutherland yn noddwr y gystadleuaeth. Enillydd y gystadleuaeth oedd y bariton o'r Ffindir, Tommi Hakala, a oedd yn golygu mai’r Ffindir oedd y wlad fwyaf llwyddiannus yn y gystadleuaeth hyd yma. Y soprano o Iwerddon, Ailish Tynan, enillodd Wobr y Gân a’r soprano o Chile, Angela Marambio, enillodd Wobr y Gynulleidfa.

2005: Ar ôl cyflwyno Gwobr y Gân yn 2003, cafodd ei hehangu i gael ei rownd derfynol ei hun. Yr enillydd oedd y soprano o America, Nicole Cabell, a arwyddodd gontract recordio sylweddol ar ôl y gystadleuaeth. Enillwyd Gwobr y Gân gan Sais am yr eildro, sef y tenor Andrew Kennedy. Bu cystadlu brwd am Wobr y Gynulleidfa a’r enillydd oedd Ha-Joung Lee, y soprano o Gorea.

Newidiwyd rheol a oedd yn golygu bod modd dewis mwy nag un cystadleuydd o wledydd â phoblogaeth fawr iawn. Yn 2005, fe wnaeth hyn olygu bod dau gystadleuydd yn cynrychioli UDA.

2007: Enillwyd y gystadleuaeth gan gystadleuydd o Tsieina am yr eildro. Roedd Shenyang yn enillydd poblogaidd ac ef oedd y bas-bariton cyntaf i ennill y wobr. Bu Lloegr yn llwyddiannus yng Ngwobr y Gân unwaith eto, lle enillodd y soprano Elizabeth Watts. Jacques Imbrailo, y bariton o Dde Affrica, enillodd Wobr y Gynulleidfa.

2009: Y soprano Ekaterina Scherbachenko oedd y cystadleuydd cyntaf o Ffederasiwn Rwsia i ennill y wobr ers i’r enwog Dmitri Hvorostovsky gynrychioli’r USSR yn 1989. Enillydd Gwobr y Gân oedd y baswr o'r Weriniaeth Tsiec, Jan Martiník a'r tenor o’r Eidal, Giordano Lucà, enillodd Wobr y Gynulleidfa.

2011: Valentina Naforniţă oedd y cystadleuydd cyntaf o Foldofa i ennill y gystadleuaeth. Y soprano oedd dewis cyntaf y gynulleidfa hefyd, a bleidleisiodd drosti hi i dderbyn Gwobr Cynulleidfa’r Fonesig Joan Sutherland, gwobr a gafodd ei hailenwi y flwyddyn hon er anrhydedd i gyn-noddwr y gystadleuaeth.

Dyma hefyd y tro cyntaf erioed i gystadleuydd wrth gefn gyrraedd rownd derfynol, sef Olga Kindler o’r Swistir. Cymerodd ran yn rownd derfynol Gwobr y Gân, a enillwyd gan y bariton o Wcráin, Andrei Bondarenko.

Daeth y Fonesig Kiri Te Kanawa yn ail Noddwr y gystadleuaeth, yn dilyn marwolaeth y Fonesig Joan Sutherland y flwyddyn flaenorol.

2013: I ddathlu 30 mlynedd ers dechrau'r gystadleuaeth, gwnaed nifer o newidiadau, a’r mwyaf o’r rheini oedd y broses clyweliadau. Cyflwynwyd DVD gan dros 400 o ymgeiswyr ac fe dynnwyd rhestr fer o 52 o blith y rheini. Gwrandawodd panel arnyn nhw i gyd wyneb yn wyneb mewn clyweliadau rhyngwladol.

Newidwyd rheol arall hefyd. Roedd y rheol a gyflwynwyd yn 2005 ynglŷn â chael mwy nag un cystadleuydd o wledydd mawr wedi achosi rhywfaint o ddadlau ac fe gafodd ei newid, a oedd yn golygu y gallai hyd at dri chystadleuydd o unrhyw wlad gymryd rhan.

Yn 2013, fe wnaeth y gystadleuaeth ffarwelio ag Anna Williams, gweinyddwyr y gystadleuaeth ers iddi ddechrau yn 1983. Roedd rôl Anna yn greiddiol i’r gystadleuaeth, ac nid o safbwynt logisteg yn unig. Roedd hi a’i thîm yn gwneud popeth posibl i sicrhau bod y cystadleuwyr yn cael profiad mor gyfforddus â phosibl yng Nghaerdydd, fel mai'r unig beth roedd yn rhaid iddyn nhw feddwl amdano oedd creu cerddoriaeth.

Yr enillydd oedd y mezzo-soprano o UDA, Jamie Barton, a enillodd Wobr y Gân hefyd. Ben Johnson, y tenor o Loegr, enillodd Wobr y Gynulleidfa.

2015: Am y tro cyntaf, roedd gan y gystadleuaeth ei Chyfarwyddwr Artistig ei hun, sef cyn-bennaeth Cerddoriaeth y BBC a'r aficionado opera, David Jackson. Un o’r pethau cyntaf a gyflawnodd oedd ymestyn y gystadleuaeth a’i gwneud yn fwy o ran o fywyd Caerdydd, drwy gynnal digwyddiadau ar y cyrion yng Nghanolfan Mileniwm Cymru, Ysgol Cerddoriaeth Prifysgol Caerdydd a Chanolfan Celfyddydau Chapter.

Roedd David eisoes yn adnabyddus ymysg aelodau'r gynulleidfa yng Nghaerdydd oherwydd roedd wedi bod yn cyflwyno sgyrsiau difyr iawn cyn perfformiadau ers 2009.

Am y tro cyntaf hefyd, daeth un o alumna Canwr y Byd Caerdydd yn ôl i eistedd ar y panel beirniaid. Cyrhaeddodd Soile Isokoski y rownd derfynol ym 1987 ac mae wedi cael gyrfa ryngwladol o bwys ym myd opera a chyngherddau ers hynny.

Y soprano o Wcráin, Nadine Koutcher, enillodd y brif wobr a Jongmin Park, y baswr o Dde Corea, enillodd Wobr y Gân. Ffefryn y gynulleidfa oedd y bariton o Fongolia, Amartuvshin Enkhbat.

2017: Dychwelodd Ailish Tynan, enillydd cyntaf Gwobr y Gân yn 2003, i’r gystadleuaeth i fod yn rhan o banel beirniaiad Gwobr y Gân.

Dychwelodd y digwyddiadau ar y cyrion ar ôl eu llwyddiant yn 2015, ac fe gawsant eu hymestyn i gynnwys digwyddiadau fel dosbarth meistr corawl a gweithdy opera i'r teulu.

Catriona Morison, y mezzo-soprano, oedd y cystadleuydd cyntaf o'r Alban i gipio teitl BBC Canwr y Byd Caerdydd. Dyfarnwyd Gwobr y Gân i ddau gystadleuydd ar y cyd am y tro cyntaf, sef y bariton o Fongolia, Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar a Catriona Morison. Enillydd Gwobr y Gynulleidfa oedd y soprano o Loegr, Louise Alder.