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Hildegard Zadek Foundation

The International Hilde Zadek Singing Competition

Foundation and funding

The International Hilde Zadek Singing Competition was launched in 1999 and held every two years in Vienna.

The International Hilde Zadek Singing Competition was launched in 1999 and held every two years in Vienna.

The competition was organised Hildegard Zadek Foundation, founded in 1997 by Maria Venuti to promote highly talented singers. Since 2002, the event was held in collaboration with the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The aim was to help young singers find their way into the profession.

Singers of all voice ranges, up to the age of 32, were eligible to participate.  The competition repertoire covered all periods from Baroque onward, with special emphasis on contemporary music.

The jury of the competition was of a high calibre.  Alongside Hilde Zadek sat Christa Ludwig, Brigitte Fassbaender, Charles Spencer, Christa Meyer, Adrianne Pieczonka, Thomas Quasthoff and Walter Kobera. The final round was held in the Glass Hall of the Vienna Musikverein.

The first three prizes were endowed with 10,000 , 7,000 and 3,000 Euro.  There were many special prizes in the form of cash, concert performances, or participation in master classes, e.g. with Hilde Zadek or Christa Ludwig.  Other special prizes led to performances at the Vienna Chamber Opera, the New Opera Vienna, the Arnold Schönberg Center or the Karlsruhe State Theater.

Today, many competition winners are among the leading singers on the international music circuit.


1st Place
Anna Nekhames, soprano, Russia

2nd Place (ex aequo):
Josipa Bainac, soprano, Croatia

3rd Place (ex aequo):
Andromahi Raptis, soprano, Canada

Patrons' Prize & Special Prize of the Gottlob Frick Society:
Josipa Bainac, soprano, Croatia

Perry Nelson Special Prize for a baritone, sponsored by Perry Nelson:
Pete Thanapat, baritone, Thailand

Special Prize Festival  of Young Voices / International Opera Studio:
Shiki Inoue, coloratura soprano, Japan

Special Prize of the mdw & MUK:
Lada Bockova, soprano, Czech Republic

Special Prize Dr. Lore Mayer:
Lalit Worathepnitinan, soprano, Thailand


1st Place:
Monica Dewey, soprano, USA

2nd Place:
Dariusz Perczak, baritone, Poland

3rd Place:
Jerica Steklasa, soprano, Slovenia

3rd Place:
Alice Rossi, soprano, Italy

Special Prize Festival  of Young Voices / International Opera Studio:
Carina Schmieger and Monica Dewey

Thomas Quasthoff Prize:
Andrea Purtic, mezzosoprano, Croatia

Anna Czekaj Farber Prize (€ 500):
Dariusz Perczak

Special Prize Neue Oper Wien:
Andrea Purtic and Jerica Steklasa

Prize of the Media Jury (€ 1,000):
Monica Dewey

Special Prize Schönberg Center (concert):
Carina Schmieger, soprano, Germany 

Special Prize of the Cologne Opera:
Monica Dewey

Patrons' Prize (€ 1,500):
Monica Dewey


1st Prize:
Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzosoprano, USA
€ 10,000 sponsored by the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung

2nd Prize:
Ruth Jenkins-Róbertsson, soprano, UK
(€ 7,000)

4th Prize ex aequo:
Tamara Ivanis, soprano, Croatia and Tobias Greenhalgh, baritone, USA
(each € 1,500)

Swiss International Opera Studio:
Tobias Greenhalgh, USA

Special Prize of the Media Jury:
Raehann Bryce Davis, USA

Special Prize Neue Oper Wien:
Tamara Ivanis, Croatia

Patrons' Prize:
Raehann Bryce Davis, USA

Special Prize Lions Club Cochem:
Tobias Greenhalgh, USA

Prize of the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe:
Raehann Bryce Davis, USA

Special Prize Schönberg Center:
Tobias Greenhalgh, USA

Bosporus Prize of the Austrian Cultural Forum:
Tamara Ivanis


1st Prize: € 7,000
Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod, soprano, Israel
Special Prize Theater an der Wien, Special Prize Neue Oper Wien, Special Prize Internationale Opernwerkstatt Schweiz

2nd Prize: € 3,500
Natalia Kawalek-Plewniak, mezzosoprano, Poland
Patrons' Prize, Special Prize Lions Club Cochem

3rd Prize: € 2,000
Eunkyong Lim, mezzosoprano, South Korea 

Special Prize Schönberg Center:
Tuuli Takala, soprano, Finland, and Wolfgang Resch, baritone, Austria

Bosporus Preis of the Austrian Cultural Forum:
Wolgang Resch, baritone, Austria


1st Prize: € 7,000 and Donors' Prize: € 1,500
Speical Prize Lions Club: € 1,500
Bosporus-Prize of the Austrian Cultural Forum Instanbul: conzert in Istanbul
Ileana Mateescu, mezzosoprano, Romania

2nd Prize: € 3,500
Eung Kwang Lee, baritone, South Korea

3rd prize: € 2,000
Zachariah Kariithi, baritone, Kenia

3rd Prize & Special Prize Schönberg Center:
Christina Bock, mezzosoprano, Germany

Special Prize for Modern Music from Schönberg to Rihm:
Johanna Greulich, soprano, Deutschland
€ 1,500

Special Prize Schönberg Center:
Melanie Henley Heyn, lyric-dramatic soprano, USA
Concert & Special Prize private master class with Ks. Hilde Zadek

Special Prize Schönberg Center:
Kornel Maciejowski, tenor, Poland


1st Prize: € 7,000
Peter Mazalán, baritone, Slovakia

2nd Prize: € 3,500
Yuan-Ming Song, soprano, China

3rd Prize: € 2,000
Monika Bohinec, mezzosoprano, Slovenia


1st Prize: € 7,000
Jesse Blumberg, baritone, USA

2nd Prize: € 3,500
Betsy Horne, mezzosoprano, USA

3rd Prize: € 2,000 and Special Prize Arnold Schönberg Center:
Amira Elmadfa, mezzosoprano, Germany


1st Prize: € 7,000
Eva Maria Riedl, mezzosoprano, Austria

2nd Prize: € 3,500
Taylan Memioglu, tenor, Turkey

3rd Prize: € 2,000
Anja-Nina Bahrmann, soprano, Germany 

Special Prize for Best Stage Performance 
Daniela Fally, soprano, Austria

Special Prize of the Hildegard Zadek Foundation: € 1,000
Alon Harari, countertenor, Israel

Special Prize Schönberg Center: Lieder concert in the Arnold Schönberg Center
Petra Simkova, mezzosoprano, Czech Republic

Special Prize Schönberg Center: Lieder concert in the Arnold Schönberg Center
Anja-Nina Bahrmann, soprano, Germany

Special Prize: class with Ks Deborah Polaski
Dora Ersek, soprano, Hungary

Special Prize: € 1,000, & class with Prof. Tamar Rachum
Nadine Weissmann, mezzosoprano, German


1st Prize: € 7,000
Tina Scherer, soprano, Germany

2nd Prize: € 3,500
Daniel Johannsen, tenor, Austria

3rd Prize: € 2,000
Martin Achrainer, baritone, Austria

Special Prize "Lieder Interpretation with Ks. Christa Ludwig"
Anna Peshes, Mezzosopran, Israel

Sonderpreis  "Opera Interpretation with Ks. Hilde Zadek"
Karin Shifrin, mezzosoprano, Israel

My encounter with Hilde Zadek was definitely the decisive factor for me to become a singer! I had my first lesson with her at the age of 18 and learned invaluable things; for example, that singing should be uncomplicated and that you should never be hoarse after singing! Likewise, that all compositions should be sung with the same technique. Later in my career, such credos helped me through many a difficult part and the busy everyday life in the theatre. I also benefited immensely from her way of conveying how to create a role and interpret it. Hilde Zadek's inimitable style made for wonderfully funny and intense singing lessons!

How did your involvement with contemporary music influence your further artistic path? Do you still perform modern music today?

In 2017, I sang a wonderful world premiere, Rivale, a one-person piece by Lucia Ronchetti, at the Staatsoper Berlin. For this production, I was nominated for the "Der Faust" theatre prize.  New music demands an open mind and a willingness to experiment, but also a confident singing technique and awareness of one's own vocal limits. I consider myself an all-rounder and enjoy singing a repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music.

Did the competition lead to engagements and facilitate contacts to agents?

As winner of the 5th Hilde Zadek Competition, I was able to give a Lieder recital at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna - a lovely experience, which deepened my interest in the compositions of the 2nd Viennese School. I sang numerous roles such as Hänsel, Octavian, Dorabella, Cherubino, Nicklausse, Rosina and Donna Elvira at opera houses such as the Staatstheater Darmstadt, Staatstheater Nürnberg, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Staatsoper Berlin, Volksoper Wien, Staatsoperette Dresden, Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar and Theater Kiel, among others. In 2011, I won 1st prize at the "Das Lied - International Song Competition” in Berlin and gave recitals in Germany and abroad, for example at the Lucerne Festival, at the Konzerthaus Basel and the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, as well as concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus, among others, and at various festivals.

Amira Elmadfa

My voice is a typical in-between voice. Today, I know that. But when I was still a student, it was much more about classifications and categories. When I first met Kammersängerin Zadek, she was so motivating and positive. She listened and believed in my timbre. Today, ten years later, my musical path has been characterised by just that: Not a specific part or specialisation, but working and trusting in the timbre of my voice to show me the way.

Ms. Zadek's personality and persistence in tackling things have always stayed with me.

On stage in recent years, I have very regularly been involved with contemporary pieces. But for me, a truly formative encounter was with Arnold Schoenberg's music. Pierrot Lunaire, his String Quartet in F-sharp Minor and the Gurrelieder continue to be works I dream of and my favorite repertoire. As a Schoenberg laureate who knew little about his music at the time, I now have the beautiful feeling that my love for this music was "pre-heard" back then by the jury, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Performing the original version of the Gurrelieder at the Arnold Schönberg Center and my recurrent meetings with Ks. Hilde Zadek were important steps forward for me in Vienna. Now, almost 11 years later, I am making my debut at the Vienna State Opera. How I would have loved for her to be there in the audience!

Christina Bock

What impressed me most was the open warmth and naturalness of Kammersängerin Zadek. She was an incredibly generous, fun-loving and honest person. That came as a very positive surprise for me. Here was one of the greatest singers ever, and she was so completely nice and “down to earth” and made it her mission to promote young singers and give them a platform – I found that very, very impressive. After the competition, I was able to experience her privately several times, to work with her vocally and learn from her as a mentor. The car rides with her at the wheel are something I will remember all my life. She drove a model that had been adapted for her, she was over 90, and I had the most fun, because – amongst her many other talents – she could probably have become the first highly successful female racing driver. At that time, I thought: when you are over 90, you want to be like Mrs Ks. Zadek. And that most certainly did not just apply to the courageous driving style!

Every opportunity to present oneself on the singers' market, which as we all know has become very competitive and “overcrowded,” can be considered a great blessing. When great singers and important directors sit on the jury, it gives young singers an enormous boost. It is not uncommon for singers to be hired, even if they don’t actually win, so it’s important to take part in competitions and also to gauge oneself to a certain extent. The pointers and suggestions – especially from the great singers of previous generations – are worth their weight in gold; I received some that I still think back upon fondly, today. I am quite certain that every public performance – which for young singers is often in the form a competition – can have direct consequences and open doors. Word-of-mouth is still the fastest route to success, no matter how many, today, place their hope in sophisticated PR strategies. Because if Agent X or Opera Director Z or Singer Y says the right thing to the right people at the right time, it will open doors and help young artists get ahead. This is why such opportunities for presentation and competitive situations are so enormously important for the development of young talents; their value really cannot be overstated! Today, I would like to thank all those involved in the Ks. Hilde Zadek Foundation for their tireless efforts!

Respectfully, Daniela Fally

My first personal encounter with Kammersängerin Zadek was when I auditioned for the Hilde Zadek Foundation Scholarship, while I was still studying singing at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. I applied for the audition, because I hoped that such a prominent scholarship could open doors for further auditions.

I was about to graduate, and like any young singer, the first major challenge of any singer's career awaited me after graduation:  to get auditions and thus the opportunity to get hired. I was overjoyed that Ks. Zadek personally awarded her scholarship to me.

The scholarship covered not only the costs of my vocal studies, but also the expenses for my first trips to auditions.

Shortly afterwards, I also applied for the International Competition, where I won 3rd prize and the Audience Award. At the competition, I encountered the agent Erich Seitter, who sat next to Ks. Zadek on the jury. That was the key moment at the beginning of my career that opened doors for me:

Immediately after graduating, my first long-term engagement took me to the Nationaltheater Mannheim, where I sang lyric (mezzo-)soprano roles. Then, through Erich Seitter, came the invitation to the Vienna State Opera, and with this engagement, a dream came true for me.  I am now in my 9th season with the ensemble.

For Ks. Hilde Zadek, it was very important to help young opera singers, and she has played a very important role in my life: she came at the very moment when every young singer needs the initial spark for their career.

I very much appreciate what she made possible for me; without Ks. Zadek, I would never have achieved such an international career.

Forever grateful, Monika Bohinec

Without a doubt, the Hilde Zadek Singing Competition provided an early and important stimulus for my career as a singer. The broad repertoire required to participate in the competition also helped me discover and deepen my love and commitment to 20th and 21st century music, which led to numerous engagements and premieres in contemporary operas and works of music (Eddy in Greek by Mark Anthony Turnage, Hans Scholl in Weisse Rose by Udo Zimmermann, Victor in Die Antilope by Johannes Maria Staud, and many more).

In addition to performance prizes with follow-up engagements (including recitals at the Istanbul Music Festival and the Schönberg Center Vienna), what I appreciated most about the Hilde Zadek Singing Competition was the interest and support for the participants, which extended beyond the competition. For example: the finalists' concert at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe, which Ks. Christa Ludwig oversaw in the form of master classes. The opportunity for a more personal contact with great singers such as Hilde Zadek, Christa Ludwig and Brigitte Fassbaender undoubtedly influenced the direction and shape of my career in a way that I have so far only experienced at the Hilde Zadek Competition.

After participating in the Hilde Zadek Singing Competition, I took part in the Young Singers Project of the Salzburg Festival and became an ensemble member at the Konzert Theater Bern. From there, further engagements took me to the Staatstheater Darmstadt, the Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn, the Neue Oper Wien, the International Macao Music Festival, the Müpa in Budapest, the Philharmonie in Luxembourg, and more.

Wolfgang Resch