Held by the Polish National Opera, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw, the International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition is the biggest singing competition in Poland. Established in 1992 by Maria Fołtyn, Polish soprano, legendary Halka, opera director, animateur, and tireless promoter of Stanisław Moniuszko’s oeuvre, the competition sees its tenth anniversary in 2019. Every three years young artists from around the world gather in Warsaw to present their skills and abilities before a select group of music professionals. For many the competition becomes a launch pad to an international career.
The list of past prizewinners and finalists includes such excellent artists as Aleksandra Kurzak, Urszula Kryger, Małgorzata Walewska, Mariusz Kwiecień, Olga Busuioc, Alexey Markov, or Vladimir Moroz. Prizewinners of the last, ninth edition – Salome Jicia (Georgia), Andrzej Filończyk (Poland), Ewa Tracz (Poland), Jakub Józef Orliński (Poland), Joanna Zawartko (Poland), and Leon Košavić (Croatia) are now sought after artists of the new generation and may boast successes on leading international opera stages and at top concert halls, including the Royal Opera House London, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opernhaus Zürich, Opéra National de Paris, Bolshoi Theatre Moscow, Canadian Opera Company Toronto, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, or La Monnaie/De Munt Brussels.
Apart from recognized artists and singers, the competition jury gathers managers of top international opera houses, Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, Royal Opera House London, Oper Frankfurt, or Houston Grand Opera. In the course of the competition’s nine editions, the jury has welcomed Gwendolyn Bradley, Regina Crespin, Mirella Freni, Leyla Gencer, Larisa Gergieva, Andrzej Hiolski, Jacek Kaspszyk, Kazimierz Kord, Tom Krause, Eva Marton, Elena Obraztsova, Wiesław Ochman, Ewa Podleś, Teresa Żylis-Gara, Bernd Loebe, Diane Zola, Izabella Kłosińska, Peter Mario Katona, Eytan Pessen, Neil Shicoff, and Sebastian F. Schwarz.
From its very inception, the competition has been more than just fierce artistic rivalry at the highest level. It has also been a chance to promote Polish vocal literature to an international audience. The competition’s repertoire list includes the oeuvre of its patron Stanisław Moniuszko, who is considered the father of Polish opera, as well as pieces by Fryderyk Chopin, Karol Szymanowski, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and contemporary Polish composers, such as Krzysztof Penderecki, Paweł Mykietyn, or Mieczysław Weinberg.
The Tenth International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition was special. As well as being a jubilee edition, it was also part of the official celebrations of Stanisław Moniuszko’s 200th birthday in 2019. The opening gala took place on the day of the composer’s birth and was the highlight of the Moniuszko bicentenary programme. It featured prizewinners of the previous competitions along with the Orchestra of the Polish National Opera under Tadeusz Kozłowski.
The milestone edition turned out to be a great organisational success and a special event on the international cultural calendar. As pointed out by independent observers, representatives of the world of opera, participants and jurors, the Moniuszko Competition has become one of the most important and well-respected singing contests in the world, or as Peter Mario Katona, the chairman of the jury, said ‘one of the top competitions in the business’. The exceptionally high level of skill demonstrated by the participants of the 2019 edition was a testament to the event’s growing prestige and considerable international stature, which also found confirmation in the Moniuszko Competition’s joining the World Federation of International Music Competitions in May 2019.