From the stage of
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Speight Jenkins, general
director of Seattle Opera, announced the two winners
of the world’s first International Wagner
Competition, each of whom was awarded $15,000.
Soprano Miriam Murphy from Ireland and
baritone James Rutherford from England were
selected from among the eight finalists by a panel
of five distinguished judges. Each sang two arias
accompanied by members of the Seattle Symphony
Orchestra led by conductor Asher Fisch. Murphy’s
selections were “Ewig war ich” from Siegfried
and Isolde’s Narrative and Curse from Tristan und
Isolde. Rutherford’s selections were the
Fliedermonolog from Die Meistersinger von
Nürnberg and “Die Frist ist um” from Der
addition, Rutherford was named the audience
favorite from votes cast by the audience and the
orchestra favorite by an Orchestra vote. Susan
Hutchison from the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and
Sciences presented the “Audience Choice” Award
plaque to Rutherford.
Following her win in
Seattle, Miriam Murphy sings the Woman Convict in
Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at
the Royal Opera Covent Garden in September. She
also appears with the Royal Philharmonic this fall.
Rutherford will appear in
Wagner’s Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the
Edinburgh Festival in September.
Alternate Philip O’Brien
from England sang in place of soprano Carolyn Betty,
who withdrew from the competition because of
illness. The other finalists appeared as
scheduled: Jason Collins from the United States,
Paul McNamara from Ireland, Carsten Wittmoser from
Germany, Dorothy Grandia from the United States, and
Andrew Lindsay Sritheran from New Zealand.
This inaugural competition will be broadcast in its
entirety on 98.1 Classical KING FM and streamed from
its Web site at
www.king.org on Saturday, August 26, at
7:00 p.m. (Pacific Time).
Rutherford and Murphy were chosen from among the
eight finalists of the competition, all of whom were
selected last fall by Jenkins from auditions in
Vienna, Berlin, London, Paris, Seattle, and New
York. At the time of the auditions, all of the
singers were between 25 and 40 and had not had more
than one major Wagner role in an opera house.
five judges Jenkins brought together for the
competition all have experience with Wagner operas.
They were mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who sang
Fricka in Seattle Opera’s 2001 and 2005 Rings;
Dr. Dorothea Glatt, assistant to Wolfgang Wagner
(director of the Bayreuth Festival) for 28 years;
Sir Peter Jonas, recently retired director of the
Bavarian State Opera; tenor and director Peter
Kazaras, who sang the role of Loge in Seattle
Opera’s 1995, 2001, and 2005 Ring
productions; and director, author, and translator
Stephen Wadsworth, who directed Seattle Opera’s 2001
and 2005 Rings.
Audience and Orchestra Vote Too
Once the singing concluded and the judges were
deliberating, the audience and orchestra members had
the opportunity to vote for the singer of their
choice. Lines stretched across the lobby of McCaw
Hall as audience members cast their ballot. The
voting for audience favorite was so close that a
recount was taken. Rutherford won both the
“Audience Choice” and the Orchestra vote.
Seattle Opera’s International Wagner Competition was
made possible by a $300,000 gift from the Charles
Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. The Simonyi
grant also supports other education outreach at
Seattle Opera. “This gift recognizes Seattle
Opera’s unique role in presenting Wagner’s great
works and its reputation for attracting the best
singers and enthusiastic audiences from around the
world,” commented Charles Simonyi.
James Rutherford (Andrew
Lindsay Sritheran in the background)
Seattle Opera General Director Speight Jenkins,
Miriam Murphy, and James Rutherford
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