The 1st Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition was held in the Silesian Opera in Bytom in 1979 and was the first competition in Poland devoted exclusively to opera singers. The participants were evaluated by Stefania Wojtowicz, Jerzy Artysz, Antoni Majak, Bogdan Paprocki, Bogna Sokorska, Natalia Stokowacka, Krystyna Szczepańska, Napoleon Siess – then the director of the Silesian Opera, and Zygmunt Latoszewski, one of the co-founders of the Competition and the president of the jury.
“Each competition, regardless of the results, is a kind of a promotion of a young artist. You can always be noticed,” says Elżbieta Towarnicka. She got 3rd prize in 1979. She is one of the leading Polish sopranos and despite the fact that she got a prize at an opera competition, she specialises in songs, oratorio and film music. The 1st prize was awarded then to Paweł Janowski (later a soloist of opera theatres in Italy), and one of the honorary mentions was given to Tadeusz Leśniczak, who cooperated with the Silesian Opera for many years and who later became a tutor at the Academy of Music in Katowice.
The 2nd Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition was held in 1981. This edition was full of excellent bass voices, three of whom made it to the finals: Romuald Tesarowicz, Radosław Żukowski and Janusz Monarcha. The special Adam Didur Prize was awarded to Romuald Tesarowicz. It was the second time he participated in the Competition held in Bytom. The first time he was noticed by Napoleon Siess, then the director of the Silesian Opera, who offered to employ Tesarowicz. The prize was a beginning of the singer’s career. Another milestone was when Tesarowicz got the 3rd prize in the “Voci Verdiane” competition in Busetto (Italy). Mścisław Rostropowicz invited him to sing War and Peace in Salle Pleyel in Paris. He performed in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Orange and Marseilles, and on German, American and Italian stages (including Milan’s La Scala).
Apart from Bytom, where he liked to return, he performed in the theatres in Warsaw, Łódź and Poznań. He sang leading parts in operas by Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Donizetti or Rimsky-Korsakov. He also performed oratorio music. He returned to the Didur Competition in Bytom as a jury member. He died on 15th October 2017. Participants of the 2nd edition were not just Polish, but also world leading bass voices. Radosław Żukowski after our Competition won several other international ones: the Tchaikovsky in Moscow (1982), Francisco Viñasa in Barcelona (1982) and Voci Verdiane in Busseto (1983). He was applauded in the Wrocław Opera, Stadtheater Gissen, Teatro San Carlos in Lisbone, Teatr Wielki in Poznań, National Opera in Warsaw. He also performed in opera theatres in Barcelona, Geneva, Melbourne, Taipei or Edinburgh. Radosław Żukowski and Romuald Tesarowicz shared the 3rd prize with Renata Rentowska (a soprano).
Only one more Bytom competition could compete with that one as far as interesting bass voices in the finals were concerned, namely the third edition in 1984. Piotr Maciej Nowacki sang 3rd prize jointly with another bass – Wiesław Nowak. Nowacki was also a laureate of competitions in Warsaw, Kudowa, Krynica, he was a finalist of “Belvedere” Vocal Competition in Vienna and a laureate of the Luciano Pavarotti competition in Philadelphia. Those achievements opened the doors to Teatroalla Scala in Milan, where he debuted with the title role in The Tale of Tsar Salatan by Rimsky-Korsakov. He performed on the stage of i.a. Royal Theatre of la Monnaie in Brussels, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Munich Opera or the Flanders Opera in Antwerp. He is a soloist of the National Opera in Warsaw. He takes part in performing numerous oratorio oeuvres. The highest prize in 1984 went to a bas (or to be precise to a bass-baritone) Czesław Gałka, an alumnus of the Academy of Music in Katowice and of prof. Stanisława Marciniak-Gowarzewska. He also received the special Adam Didur Prize. Later, he also won the 2nd prize at the s’Hertogenbosh vocal competition. At present, he is a valued oratorio singer.
The winner of the 4th National Adam Didur Opera Singer’s Competition (1989) was one of the most beautiful vocal talents that we have been able to admire on world opera stages. Unfortunately, the owner of the beautiful voice – Wojciech Drabowicz – died tragically in a car crash on 27th March 2007. The 2nd prize was awarded to Barbara Krzekotowska, and joint two 3rd prizes were awarded to Beata Morawska and Dorota Wójcik. The winning of Wojciech Drabowicz of the 4th National Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition marks the beginning of a great domination of baritones in that Competition. Five years later, a baritone from Ukraine – Andrzej Szkurhan won the rivalry. He was not a newcomer to a competition. He had already received prizes at vocal competitions in Lviv, Kiev, NowySącz, Toulouse and Warsaw. After triumphing in Bytom, he also became a laureate in Helsinki, Berlin, Copenhagen, Busetto and Vienna. In Poland he was affiliated with the opera stages in Łódź, Wrocław, Warsaw, Bytom, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Kraków and Bydgoszcz. He was also employed by opera theatres in the Czech Republic. The 2nd prize was awarded jointly to Krzysztof Borysiewicz, a baritone, and to Beata Raszkiewicz, a soprano. The final group included as many as 4 students of one tutor, namely of Prof. Stanisława Marciniak-Gowarzewska from the Academy of Music in Katowice, who taught Beata Raszkiewicz, Maria Zientek and two persons who got honorary mentions: Barbara Dobrzańska and Adam Żaak.
During the Competition held in the year 2000 no first prize was awarded, but two equal second prizes, one of those went to Artur Ruciński, a baritone. He is a graduate of the Academy of Music in Warsaw, and at present he is in the top of world singers. In 2006 his Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute was called “the male part of the season”. In the 2009/2010 season the Austrian magazine “Festspiele” placed the artist on the list of 20 best opera singers in the world. In February 2016 he debuted on the stage of the New York Metropolitan Opera as Sharpless in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. At present he is a star of opera stages. The 2nd prize was shared with Agnieszka Bochenek-Osiecka, a soprano, a graduate of the Academy of Music in Katowice. After the success in Bytom she faced other successful events, including the 1st prize at the International Dworzak Competition in Karlove Vary. In Poland she cooperated with a few opera theatres. Lately, she has been affiliated to the Silesian-Moravian National Theatre in Ostrava. Three 3rd joint prizes were awarded to Dariusz Machej (a bass), Tomasz Mazur (a baritone) and Bogusław Mikołaj Zalasiński (a baritone).
In 2004 the competition became the 1st International Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. The 1st prize was awarded to an Italian tenor Antonio Interisano and to a young baritone, Ryszard Kalus, who was still a student of Academy of Music at that time. The prize enabled him to implement his plans: foreign trips, auditions, master courses and further education and development. The 3rd prize in 2004 went to Aleksandra Buczek, a graduate of the Academy of Music in Wrocław, who was an excellent Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute (she performed the part in Basel, Bern, Freiburg and Stuttgart).
The 2nd International Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition was held in 2008. International jury chaired by Wiesław Ochman awarded – for the first time – prizes and honorary mentions in two separate categories - for male and female voices. The jury also selected an absolute winner. The Grand Prix was awarded to Elena Xanthoudakis from Australia. After winning the Didur Competition, in 2008 she received a prize at the third Operalia competition, a prestigious rivalry created by a great Spanish tenor Placido Domingo. Being a laureate of the Bytom Competition has resulted in her case in a few interesting concerts in Polish philharmonics, her world however is the opera. She performs i.a in Austria, Great Britain, she was also a cover for the great Diana Damrau in the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The 1st prize in the category of male voices went to Liudas Mikalauskas, a bass from Lithuania. In the last two years he sang in all musical theatres in Lithuania. He took part in international festivals in Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Germany, Estonia, Great Britain. The other prizes in the category of female voices went to Linia Liu (China) and Lee EunHee (South Korea); and as far as male voices are concerned, the 2nd prize was awarded to Jarosław Kitala, a graduate of the Academy of Music in Katowice, and the 3rd prize to Stanisław Kuflyuk (Ukraine).
The 3rd International Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition was held in 2012. In 1993 Karol Bula was appointed the director of the Competition and he changed its character from a national to an international event. He continued his work in 2012. The jury was composed of important personages: Stefania Toczyska, an excellent mezzo-soprano residing in Vienna; Ingrid Kremling-Domanski, a soprano from Hamburg and a professor of Hochschulefür Musik, and a guest lecturer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, a juror of numerous international vocal competitions; Maja Schermerhorn – an opera and oratioro singer and a voice tutor from Amsterdam (Amstelveen); Romuald Tesarowicz – a former laureate of the Didur Competition and later a soloist of the Opera Bastille in Paris; Ihor Kushpler from Lviv, a tutor and professor at the Academy of Music there; Józef Kański – a musical critic specialising in the opera art; conductors: Tadeusz Serafin (director of the Silesian Opera) and José Ferreira-Lobo (director of Orquestra do Norte in Portugal) and an exquisite composer of operas, director of the Festival in Rheinsberg near Berlin prof. Siegfried Matthus. Similarly as four years before the jury was chaired by Wiesław Ochman.
The 1st prize was awarded to Justyna Samborska, a soprano. After the Didur Competition in October 2012 she received special prize of Teatrod’ Opera Vercelli and a Luciano Pavarotii scholarship at the 63rd Gian Battista Viotti International Music Competition (Vercella-Italy). She performs i.a. in the National Opera in Warsaw, in Belarus, Switzerland and Germany. In the category of female voices the 2nd prize was awarded to Ekaterina Bakanova, a soprano from Russia, the 3rd prize to Liudymla Ostash, a soprano form Ukraine, and the honorary mentions were awarded to: Olesa Chuprinova from Russia (a mezzo-soprano) and to two singers from Poland, namely Małgorzata Smolka (a soprano) and Ewa Wąsik (a soprano). Ewa Wąsik, now – Tracz, a graduate of the Academy of Music in Katowice, won numerous prizes at international vocal competitions in subsequent years. Now she is affiliated with Academia Teatroalla Scala in Milan, and she sings in the Wrocław Opera. The 1st prize in the category of male voices (and the Grand Prix) was awarded to Stanisław Kuflyuk, a baritone from Ukraine, who now performs on all Polish opera stages in leading parts. The 2nd prize went to Piotr Halicki (a baritone), and the 3rd prize to Bartosz Araszkiewicz (a bass), both from Poland. Honorary mentions were awarded to Piotr Płuska (a baritone), Rafał Pawnuk (a bass) and Andrejus Apsega (a baritone from Ukraine). All laureates perform on opera stages and it needs to be emphasised that Bartosz Araszkiewicz sings in the Chemnitz Opera and in Volksoper in Vienna, and Rafał Pawnuk is affiliated to Hanover Opera, he performs in Germany and Poland.