Jamie Barton, a 30-year-old mezzo-soprano from Rome, Georgia, won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition on Sunday night. The award is one of the most influential in opera and comes with a £15,000 (approx. $23,000 USD) prize, plus engagements with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Barton competed in the final in Cardiff, Wales against Italian soprano Teresa Romano, Croatian bass baritone Marko Mimica, Argentinian mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, and Olena Tokar, a soprano from Ukraine.
Over 400 singers auditioned and 20 were invited to Cardiff for the weeklong contest. Over the years it has helped to bolster the careers of numerous singers including bass-baritone Bryn Terfel.
A gregarious stage personality, Barton already has a significant career. She's sang with Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. She played the Second Lady in The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera in 2010 and is scheduled to return to the house this fall, playing Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma.
Reviewing Barton's 2009 recital at the Kennedy Center, Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette wrote, she that "she's got a big voice, and she sings very well," though she has a "penchant for mugging."
English tenor Ben Johnson won a £2,000 ($3,000 USD) Audience Award.
Below: Barton sings Purcell's incidental music for John Dryden and Nathaniel Lee's play "Oedipus."