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20 Jun, 2009 09:11

Russia’s golden voice

A Russian soprano is hoping for even greater recognition after winning the BBC's Singer of the World contest.

Already a star at home, Ekaterina Shcherbachenko now wants to follow previous title winners on the path to international fame.

It was a stunning performance which helped Ekaterina Shcherbachenko clinch the crown of BBC’s Singer of the World.

Fighting off tough competition, the 32-year-old dazzled the judges in Cardiff, Wales, with a program of songs in three languages, none of them her own.

The Russian soprano confessed that it was the happiest day of her life:

“You may think about it and wish to win; you may have worries and doubts, but in the long run, victory is always a surprise,” Ekaterina explained.

“It’s an incredible feeling of being overwhelmed by unexpected and unbelievable happiness.”

It was at Moscow's prestigious State Music Conservatory where Ekaterina's skills began to shine. She graduated in 2005, after gaining the vocal training she needed to launch her soprano career.

Nevertheless, her career might not have happened without the guidance and help of her teacher and mentor.

Marina Alekseeva, a former soprano herself, has been training girls at the conservatory for 14 years. She says she always knew Ekaterina had special talent

“I was a member of the admission board when Ekaterina came to us,” the teacher said

“She drew attention to herself at once. I even thought that it had been so long since such a voice had come to us. I always had faith in her, her unique combination of voice and appearance,” Marina Alekseeva added.

It was this winning combination which landed her leading roles at the Stanislavsky and also the Bolshoi Theatre.

Ekaterina has already worked with national orchestras in St Petersburg, France and Scotland but it will be her victory in Cardiff which she hopes will really put her on the map.

The only other time a Russian has won the award was 20 years ago, and it turned Dmitry Khvorostovsky into an international opera star.

Ekaterina is hoping her performance will bring her similar fortunes, which she says is worth much more than her $25,000 prize.