So, Heat 4 happened on Thursday and was broadcast on Friday, so as I watched it seemed a bit silly to 'liveblog'- especially as the result AND the identity of the finalists had been spoilered for me courtesy of Twitter. I'm looking at YOU, BBC Wales viewers- Grr and Tsk. So, just an overview for this heat, ahead of tonight's final.
Enzo Romano, representing Uruguay, came up with a pretty horrible Non Piu Andrai (friendoftheblog dame gwyneth described, brilliantly, his characterisation as 'redoubtable octogenarian gay jew') but redeemed himself with a much better account of Bottom's Dream- a real case of 'second aria' syndrome.
Ireland's Maire Flavin continued the trend of wonderful mezzos, certainly the most successful vocal category in this competition- there hasn't been a dud yet. She's not the most vivid performer but the voice itself is beyond. She managed to nail the Komponist without screeching, too, which is rarer than it should be. Like her a lot.
Leah Crocetto ought to be in the final and it's mental that she isn't. Despite an unfortunate resemblance to Mutya from the Sugababes (just me? Ok then) she sailed through a difficult programme- the Trov Leonora is a real challenge for a young singer, especially the Act 4 aria which only justifies its existence if it's jaw-droppingly lovely, which this nearly, very nearly, was. I'd say she is a far more exciting prospect than another, ahem, young American soprano who is routinely greeted as the second coming.
Davide Bartolucci, representing Italy, wins the 'most ethnically suitable name' award but isn't really memorable for much else. Baritones are the anti-mezzo in this competition, I think; the standard is always lowish, with the odd exception. He did some Handel and some Mozart and they were ok. Not much more that I can say, which is maybe telling.
And then, a star. Hye Jung Lee is a coloratura soprano who is for once worthy of the name- it's all spot-on and she really sings rather than chirp. We get some of Zerbinetta (cutting arias short has been a bete noire of previous Cardiff coverage, which the BBC had hitherto managed to avoid here) and then, thrillingly, Madame Mao, which she absolutely nails. I wonder if this role will become a calling card/millstone for South East Asian sopranos the way Aida did for black ones (No). Still, this is the best rendition of this aria I've heard, although it strikes me I've only heard two other singers do it. So, there's a publicity quote for her- 'Better than Trudy Ellen Craney and Judith Howarth'- notsowunderbar).
So, the finalists (it's just starting as I type) are Raval, Petrova, Bondarenko, Nafornita and Lee. Crocetto should be there instead of Raval, and I'd give an Hon Mensh to Miss Germany, Miss Australia, Mr Romania and Miss Ireland. Lee will win, but I'd like Bondarenko to. There's just a chance, too, that if Narfornita really catches fire, she could do it. Onward!