Croatian Soprano wins prestigious Stuart Burrows International Voice Award


Croatian soprano, Nela Šarić was announced as the winner of the annual Stuart Burrows International Voice Award during a wonderful evening of song which took place at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in Carmarthen on Sunday, June 11th.

Nela Saric

Nineteen young singers from around the globe travelled to Carmarthen to take part in the celebrated day-long competition which resulted in Nela Šarić being awarded the coveted title along with a financial prize of £4000.

The highly respected Stuart Burrows International Voice Award is an annual event that takes place at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David each Summer with the 2017 award marking the eleventh year of the competition.

The competition was established in honour of the world-renowned Welsh tenor and former Trinity College student, Stuart Burrows, with the aim of helping young soloists progress in their musical careers. 

This year, the competition judges were Soprano, Buddug Verona James and Nicholas Winter, Director of Artistic Administration at the WNO – both of whom were overwhelmed by the standard of the competitors.

With nineteen singers competing, the judges had the difficult task of shortlisting five to go on to perform a fifteen minute programme each in a concert that very same evening.  The winner, Nela Šarić, who was chosen by the judges, was announced at the end of the concert.

Nela Šarić, who hails from Zadar in Croatia, is currently studying for a Masters in Advanced Vocal Studies with renowned tenor, Dennis O’Neill at the Wales International Academy of Voice (WIAV) in Cardiff.    Prior to studying at WIAV, Nela completed a Master’s degree at the prestigious Academy of Music in Zagreb.

As well as winning the Stuart Burrows award on Sunday, earlier this month, Nela won the coveted Riccardo Zandonai Competition for young operatic singers in Italy. 

Nela was also a finalist at the International Singing Competition Zinka Milanov in Rijeka, Croatia in June 2016, and in August 2016, she won the 2nd prize of the jury at the Otto Edelmann Singing Competition in Schlosstheater Schonbrunn, Vienna.

“I’m honoured and speechless to have won the Stuart Burrows award,” says Nela.

“This means such a lot to me – it’s a stamp of approval, especially as it’s my second victory in one week!  Winning a competition here in Wales - where I’m currently studying - is also very special.”

Thanks to a generous donation from Mr Dilwyn Williams, the competition also included a special Audience Prize with members of the audience having the opportunity to choose their favourite singer.  Nela was obviously a popular choice, enchanting the audience and winning the Audience Prize as well as the coveted Stuart Burrows International Voice Award.

“The Stuart Burrows competition offered a great opportunity for me to sing in front of a Welsh audience,” continues Nela. 

“I’m very pleased and humbled that my singing touched people’s hearts, with the audience – as well as the judges – choosing me as their winner.  Winning an audience prize is especially nice as it proves to me that as a singer, I was able to show emotion and connect with the audience.  I’m thrilled to have won.”

Nela will graduate from WIAV next month and is preparing for a very busy summer period. 

“In late June, I need to be in Moscow because I’ve been invited to the final rounds of the Belvedere Competition, which is already a big achievement. Then I will go to Greece to attend a Musical Odyssey Masterclass to learn more from my WIAV voice teacher and amazing soprano, Nuccia Focile. I also have about fifteen concerts this summer in Croatia, my home country.”

Eilir Owen Griffiths, the competition organiser and a lecturer at UWTSD was delighted with the standard of competitors.

"This year, the competition celebrated its eleventh year and it was very important for us to maintain the quality of the award - and that's exactly what happened,” said Eilir.

“With nineteen competitors from around the globe singing in the competition, we had a very special day. We had an incredible final with an exceptional standard of singing.  I was delighted with the result and the way that Nela managed not only to captivate the judges but the audience too."

The four other finalists taking part in the concert were Bass Baritone, Arshak Kuzikyan from Armenia; Soprano, Chloe Morgan from England; Mezzo Soprano, Christie Cook from New Zealand and Welsh Counter Tenor, Kieron Valentine.

Stuart Burros Finalists 2017

Further Information

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies by emailing / 01267 676908 / 07449 998476.