Exceptionally emotional and with many tears, caused by the memories of the unforgettable great Bulgarian tenor Kamen Chanev proceeded the Gala Evening of the laureates of the First International Competition “The Voice of Kamen” in the Antique Theater in Plovdiv.

All, from the awarded participants through the members of the Orchestra of the Plovdiv State Opera, whom the conductor and remarkable tenor and musician Jose Cura called “friends”, to the organizers and the numerous audience – were thrilled by the atmosphere of the excellently designed and prepared event.

In it there was much of everything – beautiful singing, perfect music, impressive 3D mapping on the transferred into an improvised stage spectators’ sectors and entwined in a bunch high over the Theater rays of 16 projectors in front of projected on a screen images of Kamen Chanev himself. A unique thrill of excitement passed over the silenced Antique Theater at the very final, when his voice sounded, from the screen he himself was looking at us, and the projectors were drawing above looking like a magic sacred cover and joining together in Infinity lines.

The magic of what was happening was so strong that even minutes after the end the young awarded tenors who were on the stage hypnotized and motionless continued looking at the image of their exceptional colleague who left this world so early. One really touching gesture of honor and respect to his life and remarkable career.

Purely symbolically, but specially chosen was the very place where the participants one after another were presented in the Gala. Exactly there three years before Kamen Chanev for the last time sang one of the arias, included in the program. “This place, where all young singers stand, is Kamen’s place. Great Responsibility! – emphasized Nina Naydenova, member of the jury, director of the Plovdiv Opera. Jose Cura, beside being the head of the international jury, held both the roles of the conductor and the presenter of the evening, with a sense of humor, but also with great respect for the work of his late colleague, confirmed his fame of a leading world musician. This was seen in his duet with Krasimira Stoyanova from the opera “Otello” by Verdi, which they both performed under the baton of Luciano di Martino, also a member of the Jury.
Surprisingly, two winners were chosen at the first edition of the International Competition for Young Opera Singers-Tenors “The Voice of Kamen”, held from 22 to 26 August in the framework of the opera festival OPERA OPEN of the Plovdiv State Opera with the assistance of Foundation “Kamen Chanev” and Foundation “Plovdiv 2019”.

The first place was shared by the 29-year-old Jihun Son from South Korea and the 22-year-old Ilya Skvirskiy from Russia after long and serious discussions among the members of the jury before their “Solomon” decision: to award two equal first prizes. Indicative of the qualities of the winners is also the decision of the world opera Prima Krasimira Stoyanova, member of the Jury, also to share the determined by her premium between the two winners in the Competition. The Second Prize was awarded to Seyjun An /South Korea/, and the Third Prize – to Kudaybergen Abildin /Kazakhstan/. Rewards in the form of engagements in spectacles received Oronzo d’Urso /Italy/, Anle Gou /China/ and several other candidates.
Of the submitted 41 applications for participation in memory of Kamen Chanev to participation in the contest were allowed 28 participants from 12 countries. Of the 24 performers who participated, the authoritative jury selected for the second round 14.

Beside Jose Cura and Krasimira Stoyanova, members of the Jury are: Tanya Ivanova – founder of Foundation “Kamen Chanev” /Фондация “Камен Чанев”,*, Luciano di Martino – artistic director of the Plovdiv Opera, Prof. Mario Diaz – assistant professor at the Mozarteum Academy in Salsburg, Andreas Delert – director of the Hilbert Artist Management, Ognyan Draganov – director of the Stara Zagora State Opera, assistant professor Nina Naydenova – director of the Plovdiv State Opera, Vladimir Kiradzhiev – teacher at the Vienna University for Music and Scenic Arts.

The declared by the organizers contemporary approach to the holding of the Competition, which should position the participants as “young ambassadors of music” includes the participation of the audience in the voting in the third round, which is accessible for all who are allowed to participate in the Competition. 19 of them decided to use this right in the regulations, and the 22-year-old Bulgarian Kriatiyan Hristov was preferred by the spectators in the improvised contest on 24 August in the Antique Stadium of Philippopolis and is the fist laureate of the prize “The Artist and Plovdiv”.

According to the organizers, the Competition “The Voice of Kamen” is an opportunity for young artists from all over the world to relay the message of full dedication and honesty to the art of an exceptional tenor. Specially founded for this occasion and exclusive in its essence award of the Plovdiv State Opera “For Honesty in the Art in the Name of Kamen Chanev” was assigned to the talented young tenor Mihail Mihaylov and was presented to him by the director of the Theater assistant professor Nina Naydenova.

The first edition of “The Voice of Kamen” was part of the program “Heritage II“ of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019.


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