Girl's big chance at BBC singing contest

LORNA MARSH A Norfolk girl could be headed for stardom after beating hundreds of others to represent her country in a prestigious international singing competition.

LORNA MARSH

A Norfolk girl could be headed for stardom after beating hundreds of others to represent her country in a prestigious international singing competition.

Soprano Elizabeth Watts has been chosen to sing for England in the biennial BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, the same contest that launched the career of opera star Bryn Terfel.

For the 2007 event a record 677 singers were fighting for 25 places representing different countries around the world. More than 1,000 applied to take part.

And former Norwich High School girl and Norwich Cathedral chorister Ms Watts will now go on to the grand final to find the 2007 recipient of the coveted title BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and the winner of the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize in June.

Hopefuls from as far afield as Brazil and China, Australia and Norway will gather in Cardiff to compete in the prestigious competition that has helped launch a number of classical singing stars.

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The 2005 final winner American soprano Nicole Cabell has seen her career rocket since the competition with rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic including her Royal Opera House debut. Her fist solo CD with Decca will be release in spring and her Metropolitan Opera, New York debut is scheduled later this year.

Ms Watts, 28, who comes from Hethersett but now lives in Croydon, said “To say I am over the moon would be a gross understatement. I am absolutely thrilled to be representing my country and my county.

“You never want to get your hopes up but and you don't ever know how it is going to go in the end but I always want to do my best and hopefully I will do everyone proud in the final.”

The winner will receive £15,000 and four finalists will take home £2,500. But whether Ms Watts wins the final title or not it will be a valuable experience for her.

Menna Richards, controller for BBC Wales said: “Singers and audiences alike enjoy what are both fiercely contested competitions and an unparalleled experience for young singers. All are winners in this friendly competition as the singers get to work with two excellent orchestras, gain concert and broadcast experience and have the opportunity to take part in master classes with jury members who include some of opera's most respected stars.”

An audience prize will also go to the entrant with the most online votes and the competition website will include a link to Ms Watts's blog. EDP24 will also provide a link to the blog and the competition website from next week.

t Log on to www.edp24.co.uk and www.bbc.co.uk/cardiffsinger.