The Zinka Milanov Awards Jury (2022)

Cheryl Studer

Born in Midland, Michigan, Cheryl Studer studied piano and viola and at the age of 12 began voice lessons. She graduated from the University of Music and Acting in Vienna, where she studied with Hans Hotter. Her career took off in 1979 when Seiji Ozawa offered her a series of concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Since then, she has appeared regularly in leading opera houses (La Scala, Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera New York, Vienna State Opera, Grand Opera of Paris), as well as with the most prestigious festivals such as Bayreuth, Salzburg, Pesaro and Munich. She has also appeared as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestras of Vienna, Berlin, Tokyo, London, Philadelphia, Academia of Santa Cecilia among others. Her first appearance at Carnegie Hall was a recital in 1994, where she returned two years later with the Dresden Staatskapelle under the baton of Giuseppe Sinopoli performing Strauss’ “Four Last Songs”. Her vast repertoire has included the roles of Aida and Arabella, performed at Covent Garden, Marshallin and Chrysothemis at the Salzburg Festival; Senta, Elisabeth, Elsa and Sieglinde for nine seasons at the Bayreuth Festival. Her US opera debut was at the Chicago Lyric Opera as Micaela in Carmen next to Placido Domingo in 1984. Her triumph as the Marshallin with the Vienna State Opera was followed by Ariadne auf Naxos (Japan tour), Der Rosenkavalier (Metropolitan), Frau ohne Schatten and Die Walküre in Vienna and Dresden, where she also performed Der Fliegende Holländer and Der Rosenkavalier, Tannhäuser in Hamburg, Munich and Rio de Janeiro, Elena (I Vespri Siciliani), Matilde (Guglielmo Tell), Odabella (Attila), all at Teatro alla Scala under Riccardo Muti. Mozart roles have included Donna Anna, Contessa, and Elettra (Idomeneo). She received rave reviews in Zurich when she sang Arabella in 2000. Most influencial stage directors throughout the years have been Werner Herzog (Lohengrin), Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (Carmen), Wolfgang Wagner (Tannhäuser), Giorgio Strehler (Don Giovanni and Nozze di Figaro), Harry Kupfer (Elektra / Abbado), Dieter Dorn (Holländer), Pier Luigi Pizzi (Vespri Siciliani), Luca Ronconi (Guglielmo Tell), Götz Friedrich (Der Ring, Frau ohne Schatten and Arabella), Nikolaus Lehnhoff (Idomeneo), and Herbert Wernicke (Rosenkavalier /Maazel and Fidelio / Solti). Cheryl Studer has been honoured with many international prizes, including the Franz Schubert Institute Prize for her excellence in Lied performance, the High Fidelity Musical America Prize, the Grand Prix du Disque, the 1989 Maria Callas Prize for her superb performance as Sieglinde in Die Walküre (EMI) and as Empress in Frau ohne Schatten, and in 1992 the Edison Prize for her recording of Salome (Deutsche Grammophon). In the same year, she was awarded the International Classical Music Award as the best singer of the year (the first artist to receive this prize) followed by the Wilhelm Furtwängler Prize in 1994. She has most recently been awarded the ‘Terras sem Sombre’ (2011) and the Ovation Award (2012) for her life’s work in the arts. In addition to numerous nominations, she has won two Grammy Awards. Cheryl Studer has been a fulltime Professor at the University of Music in Würzburg, Germany, 2003 – 2022, where she taught voice, stage craft, Opera Ensemble and audition training. She has staged productions of Ariadne auf Naxos and Il barbiere di Siviglia. She also gives Master Classes internationally (Beijing, Seoul, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Los Angeles, Marseille, Athens, Graz, Erfurt ) and is often jury member for international voice competitions, including the Maria Callas Grand Prix in Athens. Since 2011, Cheryl Studer has performed mezzo-soprano roles such as Gertrud in Haensel & Gretel and Adelaide (Arabella) at the Hamburg State Opera, Nettie Fowler (Carousel) in Basel, Mamma Lucia (Cavalleria Rusticana) at Opera Graz, with Live-Recording, and the Aufseherin in the famed Chereau-production of Elektra under Barenboim at the State Opera of Berlin. Future engagements include performances in 2022 and 2023 at the State Opera of Berlin, Theater Erfurt and at the Semperoper Dresden. She has most recently sung the role of  Tertullia in “Die Verurteilung des Lukullus” at the State Theater of Stuttgart to great acclaim. Her next role debut will be Strauss’ Klytämnestra in the 2022/23 season, which will be announced by the Theater in May 2022. The 2022/23 season also marks her 48th season of professional singing.

Iva Hraste Sočo

Graduated from the Academy of Music (1989) with a degree in solo singing, studying Yugoslav languages and literature in parallel at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, from which she also received her doctorate (2012) with a dissertation on the international recognition of Croatian culture through the example of festival politics. Soloist of the Opera of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb (1987-2003), notably one of the youngest in the history of the theatre. Besides her work on the Croatian opera stage, where she interpreted 27 roles from the soprano repertoire alongside rich concert activities, she also performed at numerous locations abroad (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kyiv, Milan, Trento, Modena, Naples, Fiuggi, Tokyo, Osaka, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and more). She worked at the Croatian Embassy in Vienna as a diplomat (2005-2009), where she organized more than 100 cultural projects that promoted the highest achievements of Croatian cultural heritage as well as contemporary artistic expressions. She also worked as Assistant Minister for International Cultural Cooperation, among other duties, at the Croatian Ministry of Culture (2009-2019), where she also served as special advisor to the Minister of Culture and Media. Since 2012 she has taught courses in the field of theatre and festival production, and has mentored the final and graduate theses of students of the Department of Production at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, University of Zagreb. In October 2019 she was employed as an assistant professor, and has since taught at the Musical Academy of the University of Zagreb, the Postgraduate International University Study of Diplomacy and the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has been appointed general manager and artistic director of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb starting September 1, 2022. She has won many awards and recognitions, including the Judita Award for Best Musical Achievement at the 67th Split Summer Festival (as producer of the show), the Golden Charter of Hungary, the Marija Borčić Award, the Milka Trnina Award for her performance in the opera Cosi fan tutte, First Prize at the Yugoslav Solo Singers Competition in Ljubljana, the Rector’s Award, the May Day Prize and entry into the finals of the Luciano Pavarotti International Competition in Modena, Italy. She is engaged in the production of theatre plays, concerts and musical stage performances, is a member of numerous professional bodies, and publishes books as well as scientific and professional papers in the field of theatre, musical theatre, the sociology of music and cultural policy.

Silvana Sintow Behrens

Silvana Sintow Behrens was born into a musical family and grew up in the major cities of the international classical music world. She received piano and singing lessons since childhood and went on to study Musicology as well as Theatre Arts. She started her career as a public relations manager of the record company BMG Classics/RCA in London, which put her in charge of artists such as Evgeny Kissin, Barry Douglas, James Galway and Yuri Temirkanov. She was subsequently hired by the French record company Erato Disques (Warner) and appointed Director of International Promotions and Artist Development in Paris. There she also became Daniel Barenboim’s personal PR, which she later continued to carry out for Teldec Classics/Warner in Berlin. As the founder and director of Classicalia International Promotions and Management she works with singers, conductors and instrumentalists in establishing and developing their careers. Parallel to her Munich-based agency, Silvana Sintow Behrens served as artistic advisor for 11 years to the Athens Concert Hall, Megaron. In addition to leading her agency, which has represented some of the finest singers and conductors for over two decades, Silvana Sintow Behrens enjoys working with talented young artists.

Patrick Wurzel

Born in Halle/Saale, Patrick Wurzel studied musicology, German and art history in his hometown as well as literature in Hagen. After working as an assistant director at the theaters in Halle/Saale, Neustrelitz and Saarbrücken, he worked at Deutsche Oper am Rhein. He gained professional experience in Tel Aviv, Budapest and Klagenfurt before taking on the position of artistic production manager at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich. Since the beginning of the 2016/2017 season, Patrick Wurzel is Director of Artistic Planning and Director of Artistic administration of the Chemnitz Opera. The Chemnitz Opera became well-known for debuts of singers and the commitment to the continuous development of singers and their careers.

Tobias Truniger

Born in Switzerland, Tobias Truniger completed his piano studies with Professors Boris Bloch and Till Engel at the Folkwang Hochschule Essen. He continued his studies in Lied interpretation and repetiteur at the Leipzig Conservatory under Karl-Peter Kammerlander, as well as in courses with Brigitte Fassbaender, Norman Shetler and Roger Vignoles. Tobias Truniger worked as a repetiteur at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, where he also worked as a lecturer at the Robert-Schumann-Musikhochschule. Since 2000 he has been director of the singing classes at the Musikhochschule Nürnberg-Augsburg and continues to lead a Lied class at the Musikhochschule München. As a Lied accompanist, he performs with singers such as Angelika Kirchschlager, Thomas Moser and Edith Wiens, and as a vocal coach he serves numerous singers at leading European opera houses and festivals. Since the season 2009/10 he is musical director of the Bayerische Staatsoper Opera Studio.

Christian Carlstedt

He was born in Berlin and studied musicology and German literature at Freie Universität Berlin. After his graduation he worked as a dramaturg for opera and concert at Mainfrankentheater Würzburg and National Theatre Mannheim. He ran as Artistic Director the Opera Company at Theater Freiburg and worked as Director of the Artistic Adminstration at Theater an der Wien. 2008 – 2014 he was the Head of the Casting Department at Bavarian State Opera Munich. Since 2014 he works as a freelance Casting Consultant, currently for Komische Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Hannover, Bühnen Bern, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, and the ZaterdagMatinee concerts in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. He is regularly invited as a jury member of international vocalists’ competitions.

Mariano Horak

Mariano Horak has studied voice and musicology at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts of his home town Bratislava. With a scholarship he completed his studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatorium in Kiev. He started a career as a lyric baritone in several German and Swiss Opera houses before he founded the Caecilia Lyric Department in Zürich in 1984, a division specialized for opera singers – with the aim to build up and take care of the international careers of highly talented and promising young artists. The agency has achieved soon an excellent reputation and the number of represented artists has grown very fast. Besides many young talents the artist’s roster has included also many famous artists such as Mirella Freni, Grace Bumbry, Christa Ludwig, Lucia Popp, Teresa Berganza, Edith Mathis, Piero Cappuccilli, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Peter Schreier and many others. In July 2015 Mariano Horak has together with his colleague Stephanie Ammann opened the new agency Ammann-Horak Agency located at the lake of Zürich nearby the Zürich City. According to the philosophy that the artists deserve only the best service and in order to keep the highest possible standard of quality, the number of exclusively represented artists has remained relatively limited. Ammann Horak Agency has a well-established worldwide network with all renowned opera houses, classical music organizers and media professionals. Mr. Horak is also a regular jury member at several international singing competitions, always wishing to keep track of the coming generation of young talented singers.

Valentin Egel

In 2019 Valentin Egel won the International Competition of Young Conductors Lovro von Matacic in Zagreb, the Competition of all German Music Academies and was recorded in the list “maestros of tomorrow” of the German Conductors Forum. Further more, since 2017 he is promoted through the German Music Council and winner of the Conducting Competition of the Radio Symphony Orchestra Leipzig. Valentin Egel studied conducting in Weimar, Germany and Blommington, USA. In masterclasses he learned from conductors such as Teodor Currentzis, Arthur Fagen and Peter Gülke. Stemming from a very musical family he practiced music from a very early age. Both at the piano and the violin and in the Boy’s Choir of the Cathedral of Freiburg. In concert he conducted orchestras such as the Radio Symphony Leipzig, the BBC Philharmonic Manchester, the State Philharmonic Nürnberg, the Belgrade Philharmonic and the Radio-Television Orchestra Zagreb. Amongst others he has been working with soloists like Bruno Delepelaire , Fabrice Millischer and Reinhold Friedrich. Shortly up coming concerts will lead him through Germany, Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria and Sweden. Valentin Egel is chief conductor of the KHG-Symphony Orchestra of Freiburg and has been invited recently to be in the same position with the Young Chamber Philharmonic Berlin.

Vlatka Oršanić

Vlatka Oršanić, soprano, was born in Zabok, Croatia. She spent her childhood in Varaždin where she began her musical education. She graduated voice study at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana, Slovenia and later took her postgraduate studies in Vienna with Kms Olivera Miljaković. Vlatka Oršanić made her debut at the age of 20 as Gilda at the National Opera in Ljubljana. Since then, she was invited as a guest singer to all opera theaters in Yugoslavia. In her long and rich career, she sang in many projects in different European opera houses and concert halls (Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Romania) and in Japan, working with prominent directors (Joachim Herz, Harry Kupfer, Christine Mielitz, Pet Halmen, Andreas Homoki, John Cox, Liliana Cavani, etc.) and conductors (Semyon Bychkov, Michael Gielen, Wladimir Jurowski, Kiril Petrenko, Daniel Harding, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Heinz Holliger, Stefan Soltesz, etc.) Her repertoire includes more than 80 leading opera and concert roles of very different character and music style, from Purcell (Dido), Bach, Händel (Angelica), Mozart (Queen of the night, Susanna, Vittelia, Elettra, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Despina), Beethoven, Schumann (Genoveva), Donizetti (Lucia, Adina), Bellini (Elvira), Rossini (Rosina), Verdi (Gilda, Violetta, Aida, Lady Macbeth, Leonora, Abigaila, Amelia), Puccini (Mimi, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut), Gounod (Marguerite), Tchaikovsky (Tatyana), Janacek (Mila, Jenufa, Katja, Malinka), Dvořák (Rusalka, Princess), Giordano (Maddalena), R. Strauss (Ariadne, Herodias), Shostakovich (Katerina Ismailova), Prokofiev (Natasha) to modern authors. She appeared at renowned European music festivals (Salzburger Sommerfestspiele, Edinburgh Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Wiener Festwochen). Vlatka Oršanić recorded several CD albums for various international discography companies (Arte Nova, EMI, Sony Classical) and made archival recordings for several radio and TV stations (RTV Ljubljana, RTV Zagreb, ORF Wien, SWF Freiburg, Deutschland’s radio, MDR Leipzig). From 2006 to 2010 she was senior lecturer (associate professor) for voice at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana. She is a principal singer at the Slovenian National Theatre Opera.