Countertenor Maximilian Riebl (23) from Victoria, took away the coveted winner’s spot in the annual IFAC Australian Singing competition held last weekend. It is the first time since the competition began in 1982, that a counter-tenor has been awarded first place.
Maximilian Riebl has performed regularly in Sydney as soloist with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, including the Bach Magnificat programme in February 2014, their Noël! Noël! Christmas concerts and their CD A Celtic Christmas.
Representing the final five from nearly one hundred applicants, the five distinctively different voice types competed for over $200,000 in prizes & opportunities including ‘The Mathy’, the most prestigious award given to a young opera singer. Also from Victoria were 24-year-old bass baritone Jeremy Kleeman, and the only female contestant, 24-year-old soprano Rebecca Gulinello. Joining them from NSW were 23-year-old tenor Damian Arnold and 24-year-old baritone Benson Wilson from New Zealand.
In addition to the Marianne Mathy Scholarship valued at $30,000 Maximilian also receives a chance to audition for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Center; a Fine Music 102.5 studio recording; a Lili Usher Portrait Prize; a limited edition sculpture by Drago Cherina and Neustein Resume professionally produced.
Damian Arnold won the Guildhall School of Music & Drama Award that provides fees for one year’s study plus $5,000; the ROSL Arts Scholarship which provides fees for one year’s study and $3,000, and the Nelly Apt Scholarship with air fares, living expenses and fees to fund travel to attend the Meitar Opera Studio in Tel Aviv.
The Royal Northern College of Music Award that provides fees for one year’s study and $3,000 was won by Rebecca Gulinello. The Merenda Legacy Prize with a cash grant of $8,000 to study Italian in Italy was won by Jeremy Kleeman and the International Vocal Arts Institute New York Scholarship was awarded to Benson Wilson.
The compere for the evening was ABC Classic FM’s Damien Beaumont. The finalists were accompanied by the Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra conducted by Maestro Johannes Fritzsch.
Nearly 100 singers from Australia and New Zealand auditioned. The adjudicators were Linnhe Robertson, Conal Coad, Lisa Gasteen AO, Michael Halliwell, Simon Lord and Emma Matthews.