October's themed month explores the world of international competitions through the eyes of some finalists of top competitions around the world. We continue our Operalia series with Olga Peretyatko, winner of the 2nd Prize in 2007.

Olga Peretyatko © Dario Acosta
Olga Peretyatko
© Dario Acosta

Why did you decide to apply to compete in Operalia? How much international experience had you had by this time?

When I was in Hamburg Opera Studio, I wanted to do as many auditions as possible. Plácido Domingo was there for the concert, I asked him if it would be possible to sing for him. I found a pianist and sang for Maestro three arias. At the end he asked me whether I wanted to participate in Operalia, and of course I said YES!!!!

Whilst some singers thrive on competitions, others find them terrifying. What was your experience of competing in Operalia? Was it similar to your experience of competing in other competitions?

At that moment I was younger and courageous, I didn't even have any fear, because I had nothing to lose, that's actually the best setting to win, just go there and sing your best.

Which piece did you choose to perform in the final? Why did you choose this repertoire?

In the final round we couldn't choose, the piece was chosen for us. For me, they chose Olympia, although I would have preferred Lucia because there are more possibilities to show your skills and voice, but it's ok.

The jury for Operalia famously includes casting agents from top opera houses. Did you receive any casting opportunities as a direct result of competing in Operalia?

With the prize-money, I was able to make many auditions which brought me a lot of work, but I didn't get any contract from Operalia's jury directly.

What memories do you have working with Domingo?

I was just happy and honoured to be part of this competition, I didn't even dream to win. Maestro Domingo was very generous with all of us, he always found a minute to speak and encourage us, because he knows how important it is for young artists to receive advice from such a great singer!

What was the biggest way in which Operalia helped you to develop as a singer?

I learned a lot there. For example, that we shouldn't think about concurrence and we should just concentrate on our best possible performance. There is a good sentence in Russian: “do the best you can, and be what may”!

If you were competing in Operalia today, what would you choose to sing?

I sang Zerbinetta, Olympia and Lucia.

That was a good choice for me. I think, if I could go back in time, I would add something by Rossini.