Great Den Bosch Prize An award for the best singer in the competition, who gets to perform in a KRO television concert.
1st prize ƒ 2.500, the medal of Muziekstad Den Bosch, a diploma, a concert with the Brabant Orchestra, a KRO Radio broadcast.
2nd prize ƒ 1.000, Honorary diploma, a concert with the Brabant Orchestra, a KRO Radio broadcast.
Young Talent prize ‘Toonkunst’ ƒ 500 Study allowance for a Dutch singer who shows promise at any point in the competition (he or she doesn’t have to be a finalist).
Special talent scholarship Free admission to the vocal Summer Course in Vught
Honorary diploma Honorary diploma
Viorica Cortez Mezzo-soprano RO
1st prize Ileana Cotrubas Soprano RO
1st prize Viorica Cortez Mezzo-soprano RO
2nd prize Faith Pulston Jones Mezzo-soprano UK
Not awarded
1st prize Sigmund Nimsgern Baritone GE
2nd prize Pompeju Hărăşteanu Baritone RO
Julijana Anastasijević Alto YU
Heide Baetge Soprano GE
Françoise Rogez Mezzo-soprano FR
Wojciech Jan Smietena Baritone PO
Joke Kramer Soprano NL
Willy Caron Tenor NL




Viorica Cortez (mezzo – RO)

  • IVC1965CortezSlide1
  • IVC1965CortezSlide2
  • IVC1965CortezSlide3
  • IVC1965CortezSlide4
  • Viorica Cortez at the 1965 IVC

‘And then there was Viorica Cortez, whom I believe to be an exceptionally great vocalist, such as the IVC hasn’t seen in years. With impressive artistry and a great voice she sang Lia’s aria from Debussy’s L’enfent prodigue , in which the difficult technical requirements didn’t seem to exist. This was followed by a rare, exceedingly dramatic rendition of Saint–Saëns’ Dalila aria. Finally, she remonstrated her versatility in a splendid rendition of Schubert’s ‘Der Musensohn.’ (Johan van Dongen, Eindhovens Dagblad, September 10, 1965)

‘Radiating in works by Rossi, Donizetti and Obradors, she proved that she has no limitations at all, oratorio, opera, song. And who might this miracle be: Viorica Cortez, a young Romanian mezzo-soprano. Mozart, Richard Strauss, Vienna, on wishes all of that for her, and they would be the better for it.’ (J. A., Bossche Courant, September 13, 1965)

Mezzo soprano Viorica Cortez was born December 26, 1935 in Bucium, Iaşi County, Romania (later she took on the French nationality). Of Spanish origins, Cortez, the eldest of three sisters, was raised in an artistic environment. She discovered her passion for music early in life. Her formal studies were started at the Iași Conservatory, where she also debuted in public performance at the early age of 17, in the alto part of Beethoven's ‘Ninth Symphony’. For some years, she toured the towns of Moldavia, almost exclusively in vocal-symphonic repertoire. Eventually, she transferred to Bucharest’s Bucharest’s Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory. There she became a pupil of the famous Romanian soprano Arta Florescu, then at the hight of her fame as the voice impersonating the great Hariclea Darclée, in the 1960’s biopic on that legendary Romanian singer, creator of Tosca, Wally, and Iris. Florescu also educated other IVC participants, such as Marina Krilovici and Leontina Văduva (in addition to which we mention the likes of Eugenia Moldoveanu, Maria Slătinaru-Nistor, and Angela Gheorghiu). It was Florescu who urged Cortez to participate in International Vocal Competitions, to test her progress. At the International ‘George Enescu’ Contest in Bucharest 1964, she ranked ‘only’ fourth – not exactly ‘bad,’ considering that she only concluded her Conservatory studies in the same year. Her obvious talent secured her a swift debut in staged opera, in Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, still in 1964. That her 4th Prize in Bucharest may have been a case of nemo propheta in patria is suggested by her winning the First prize in Toulouse, 1964 (along with compatriot and future IVC winner, tenor Ludovic Spiess). Her victory brought Cortez a contract at the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, where she debuted in Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, opposite Spiess. She returned on year later, as Carmen, which was to become her signature role par excellence.

Cortez in Den Bosch

Presumably spurred on to reap Romania even more fame at prestigious International Vocal Competitions, Cortez ultimately also arrived to Den Bosch, to participate in the 12th IVC there, from September 9 to 15, 1965. Cortez’s popularity with the press and the audience in Den Bosch was confirmed in the unanimous decision of the Jury to appoint her First Prize winner Cum Laude, in addition to which she was awarded with the Great Prize of the City of Den Bosch, as best singer in the competition. Johan van Dongen stressed in Eindhovens Dagblad that her victory was all the more glorious, since she won amidst fierce competition from her fellow First Prize winners Ileana Cotrubaș and Sigmund Nimsgern. Van Dongen added that even in this strong field, Cortez literally blew anyone off the stage with glorious, and meaningful interpretations of arias by Rossi and Donizetti, as well as with a jolly rendition of Obradors’ ‘Coplas.’ Critic Piet Pijnenborg found simple words to mark her effect in the concluding September 16 Gala Concert: ‘a voice rich in nuance, marked by a distinctive temperament and erotic charm. Given that the Jury consisted only [not true – RS] of men, her ‘election’ was hardly surprising.’

Cortez’ subsequent rise to fame was steep. Her Covent Garden debut followed in 1966. Her first preserved broadcast appearance in our archives is also from London, a June 27, 1966 appearance as La Duchesse De Crakentorp in Le fille du regiment, with Dame Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti as her partners. The recording shows Cortez’ voice at he very outset of her career, hardly 9 months post her IVC victory, but since it is only a small comprimario part, we prefer to give here her fulminant rendition of 'O Don fatale, from Verdi's Don Carlo, which perfectly demonstrates the dramatic abilities of her voice:

Verdi: Don Carlo 'O Don fatale'
Viorica Cortez (Eboli) (1977; LP Airs Français et italiens)

At her second attempt, she also won the George Enescu Contest 1967, and she was then given a contract with the National Opera Bucharest. In the same year, she toured France in an Aida production with Arta Florescu, and a stunned Sir Georg Solti hired her for his upcoming, prestigious new production of Carmen at Covent Garden. These performances ultimately brought about her contact with the famous agent Sandor Gorlinsky, who added her to his illustrious roster. From there onwards, one prestigious debut followed another. She maintained a close relationship with the French opera houses of Toulouse, Rouen, Bordeaux, Avignon, and Nice, as well as with the Bucharest Opera, but 1969 and 1970 saw her debuts in Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu (La favorita), Viennese Staatsoper (Don Carlo), Salzburger Festspiele (Carmen), Naples Teatro di San Carlo ( Samson et Dalila), and the Paris Grand Opera (Carmen). Likewise in 1970, Cortez celebrated her American debut in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York’s Carnegie Hall (Verdi's Messa da Requiem). In 1970 we are also able to track her career further in terms of recordings, with a fascinating Samson et Dalila production from Lisbon, alongside living legend Mario Del Monaco, conducted by Georges Prêtre.

Defecting to the West

If the above suggests a rather full agenda for 1970, then that still was nothing compared to the challenges she faced as a Romanian artist with a desire to perform in the West. Endless harassment and visa problems had previously caused the annulment of many a contract, and post her Winter 1970 appearances in Naples with Mario Del Monaco, again in Samson et Dalila, she decided not to return home again, and to stay in France. This meant being cut off from her first husband, her family and her friends for a prolonged period of time.

Princess of pirates

  • IVC1965CortezDisco1
  • IVC1965CortezDisco2
  • IVC1965CortezDisco3
  • IVC1965CortezDisco5
  • IVC1965CortezSLide6

Viorica Cortez made only a handful studio recordings, because her arrival in Western Europe coincided with all the major recording labels already having exclusive contracts with then famous mezzo-sopranos such as Fiorenza Cossotto, Grace Bumbry, Shirley Verrett or Elena Obraztsova. Yet, her appearances at La Scala (debut 1971), The Metropolitan Opera House and all other major theatres in the world onwards are extensively documented in live recordings. She can also be seen in an array of DVD’s from the mid 1970’s to the 1990’s. In 1979, her career culminated in some glittering, star driven productions in Paris, where she appeared in Nabucco (with Grace Bumbry and Sherrill Milnes), and Oedipus Rex. Following those performances, Cortez arrived at a turning point. The hectic performance schedule that she had maintained throughout the 1970’s, flying from one opera house to the next, and crossing time zones without second thoughts, eventually took it’s toll on her voice in the early 1980’s. In 1981 she canceled obligations for several months in order to rework her voice. When she returned a few months later, the problems were miraculously solved, but Cortez kept a much slower performance rate, and rarely performed in Europa, giving preference to her long-term Metropolitan Opera House engagement. From 1981 to 1984 she sang there in Samson et Dalila, Il Trovatore, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Adriana Lecouvreur. She continued to sing in Denver, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Bagdad, Tokyo, Osaka, and Amsterdam, Arena di Verona, Grand Opera, Paris, Barcelona and Teatro Comunale di Bologna ( Un Ballo in maschera with Luciano Pavarotti in 1989). Testifying for Cortez’s artistry is that she didn’t cling to her old war horses when her age was no longer wholly in line with the characters she portrayed, gradually shifting towards more mature roles. She sang her last Eboli in 1982, her last Giulietta and Dalila in 1987, and her last Amneris in 1988.

Cortez in the post communist era

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the excecution of Romania’s feared dictator Ceaușescu, Cortez, was able to retrun to her fatherland, after 20 years of exile. She appeared in numerous benefit galas and concerts, and gave recitals in Bucharest and Iași (where she appeared as Carmen in 1991); at the National Opera in Bucharest she starred in Il Trovatore, 1992. A famous line says that it is a rare talent to leave the stage with grace, and almost impossible to stay on with grace – which is exactly what Viorica Cortez achieved. As was the case with Anja Silja, Wagnerdiva of the 1960’s, Cortez eventually turned to character roles, in which her acting abilities still enabled her to excel. Such was her passion for the stage that not even a 2001 car accident could force her into retirement. After a recovery process of nearly half a year, she returned to the stage in Seville, as La Comtesse de Coigny and Madelon in Andrea Chénier. She continued in this manner throughout th first decade of the 21st Century, with the 2010-2011 season of the Marseille Opera celebrating her return there in Cavalleria Rusticana… To be continued!

For more information, photos, recordings and discographic information please visit the 401DutchDivas Viorica Cortez page.


Ileana Cotrubaș

  • IVC1965CotrubasSlide1
  • IVC1965CotrubasSlide2
  • IVC1965CotrubasSlide3
  • Ileana Cotrubaș at the 1965 IVC

‘The saying wants all good voices to come from Italy, but in den Bosch they came from Romania, among them a precious pearl… Ileana Cotrubaș. When listening to her during the concluding IVC Gala Concert, she enchanted us with her charming grace, and feather light leggiero singing. She did so to the point that you forgot to realize what greatness she achieved in terms of technique. It was sheer youthful splendor and beauty that touched the ear. She juggled with her voice and if some labeled that instrument with the adjective; metallic,’ I would only agree if the shimmering beauty of this metal would be linked to noble beauty of the purest silver.’ (Piet Pijnenborg, De Volkskrant, September 16, 1965)

Romanian soprano Ileana Cotrubaș (Galaţi, June 9, 1939) was born into a musical family; her father, Vasile, was a tenor in an amateur choir. Cotrubaș' ‘career’ began at the extremely early age of nine, when she became a member of a children's radio choir in Bucharest, where her parents moved to in 1945. By the age of eleven, she was one of its leading soloists. She sang, among others, choir parts in Carmen, Tosca, Boris Godunov, and La bohème. Thus she fell in love with opera, and therefore anyone will understand the little girl’s disappointment when her teacher at the Conservatory told her that her voice was nice, but not hefty enough for the demands a solo career in opera…

In 1952, she moved to Bucharest to study at the Școala Specială de Muzică, the school for the musically gifted. Emanuel Elenescu trained her as soloist, and Constantin Stroescu later formed her at the Bucharest ‘Ciprian Porombescu’ Conservatory. She made her debut as a solo singer at the National Opera Bucharest in 1964, as Yniold in Pelléas et Mélisande. She expanded her repertory there to include roles such as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Still in 1964, she won the Enescu Prize, after which she triumphed also at the IVC 1965 in ‘s Hertogenbosch.

The IVC Den Bosch 1965

As off the IVC Den Bosch 1965 semi finals Ileana Cotrubaș was a favorite of the critics with respect to winning the Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius Prize. With respect to the semi finals, Johan van Dongen for Eindhovens Dagblad mentioned her delicious timbre that stood out in line with her musicality, in ‘Aus Liebe,’ from the St. Matthew’s Passion. Impressive Beethoven’s ‘Neue Liebe,’ and surprising, also in terms of stile, her rendition of an aria from Massenet’s Manon. Her appearance in the finals included an intriguing song by Dutch composer Alexander Voormolen, ‘Odelette,’ along with Ravel’s ‘Asie’ from Shéhérezade. J. A., in De Bossche Courant of September 13, 1965, wrote that if her instrument was perhaps less ‘imposing’ than the voice of sister in art and her IVC 1965 rival, Romanian mezzo-soprano Viorica Cortez (winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Prize at the same IVC, and awarded the prize for best singer of the competition), it certainly matched Cortez’ voice in sheer beauty of tone. As an artists J.A. thought Cotrubaș wholly on a par with her Romanian compatriot.

Ileana Cotrubaș recalling her IVC participation and her subsequent career breaks (excerpt from Desert Island Discs, 1980)

She remained with the National Opera Bucharest until 1967, when she briefly continued her studies in Vienna, before triumphing at The Munt Theatre Brussels, where she was a sensation as Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and as Pamina in the same composer’s Die Zauberflöte. The awards in Den Bosch and a 1966 victory at a German Radio Competition, along with her Brussels’ success, led directly to appearances in the Vienna State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Berlin State Opera and the Salzburger Festspiele, and to a contract with the Frankfurt Opera. There she had a seven months contract annually, because she had to perform also her duties in Bucharest, where she was an assistant professor at the Conservatory in the Lieder and oratorio class. In Frankfurt she debuted replacing an indisposed Edith Mathis as Pamina, after which she went on to sing all the later great roles of her repertoire there.

Puccini: La bohème ‘Si, mi chiamano Mimi’
Ileana Cotrubaș (Mimì)(LP IVC 25-Years



Her career at the Salzburger Festspiele started in the 1967-68 season. Notable appearances there were Konstanze, and Pamina. From 1968 to 1971 she was engaged at the Frankfurt Opera, in 1986 she appeared at the San Carlo Naples as Amelia in Simon Boccanegra. A long term engagement with Royal Opera House Covent Garden started in 1971. She proved a sensation at her La Scala Milan debut in 1974, as Mimì in La bohème, followed by many later appearances, among them a 1988 Manon by Massenet. She then appeared in countless guest performances all over Europe, where we mention appearances at the opera houses of Munich, Paris, Cologne, Berlin, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Monte Carlo, Hamburg, Edinburgh, Glyndebourne, and Florence. Her American career thrived no less. Since 1973 she appeared at the Chicago Opera in all her famous roles. In 1977 she made her Metropolitan Opera House New York debut as Mimì. This started a series of engagements there, which took her via Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Gilda in Rigoletto, Micaela in Carmen and Tatjana in Evgeni Onegin to perhaps her finest creation there, a 1988 Violetta in La Traviata. Following a Mélisande at the Maggio Musicale Florence Cotrubaș retired from the stage. During her reign, Ileana Cotrubaș was celebrated for the sheer beauty of her voice, which had a shimmering, liquid quality and a dark edge to it, while being utterly lyric. Her great musical taste, perfect technique and her integrity as a musician alone were enough to make her the prime lyric soprano of her age, but the cream on top of all that was her scenic instinct, doubtlessly forged in her childhood years in the choir of the Romanian Radio. She also celebrated near sensational triumphs as a concert singer, where she enjoyed singing Mozart, songs by Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Fauré, Brahms, Georges Enescu.

Ileana Cotrubaș’ discography is among the most extensive ones among sopranos of her day. In all her recordings, videos, and broadcasts the cream of the operatic world of the 1967–1989 period surrounded her. We mentions the likes of Pavarotti, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo as near ‘steady’ tenor partners, and conductors ranging from Carlos Kleiber to Herbert von Karajan. During her reign from 1968 to 1989 she ranked among the absolute superstars of the operatic firmament.

For more detailed information, a selected discography, and more photos and audio/video samples, you can visit Ileana Cotrubaș’ 401 Dutch Divas page.

Sigmund Nimsgern

IVC1965Nimsgern‘The German artist Sigmund Nimsgern raised to the highest peaks of song in ‘Erlkönig.’’ (Johan van Dongen, Eindhovens Dagblad, September 13, 1965)

‘Beauty, cultivated vocal artistry and intelligence marked his singing. Perhaps he was showing off a little too much in ‘Erlkönig,’ but what a glorious courage to compete with Wolf’s ‘Abschied.’ This song is a sturdy persiflage on the critics, and therefore hardly ever performed in public, and one could only admire Nimsgern’s jolly guts to appear with it in front of an audience that was largely made up of critics.’ (J. A., Bossche Courant , September 13, 1965)

After leaving school in 1960, German bass-baritone Siegmund Nimsgern (January 14, 1940, Sankt Wendel, Saarland) studied singing at the Hochschule für Musik Saar with Sibylle Fuchs, Jakob Stämpfli and Paul Lohmann. Nimgern’s election to the ranks of IVC winners in 1965 was never in doubt. From the semi finals onwards he ranked among the favorites of the press. Adding to Van Dongen’s words on the finals above, we can quote here his words on Nimsgern’s singing in the semi finals:

‘A gorgeous timbre, and an extended register were revealed in a brilliantly sung aria from The Messiah. Following this aria, he wholly convinced in the difficult Schubert song ‘An die Leyer,’ before concluding with a musically refined rendidtion of an aria from Le nozze di Figaro. He was without doubt the best baritone in the field.’ (Johan van Dongen, Eindhovens Dagblad, September 1o, 1965)

Piet Pijnenburg judged Nimsgern’s three Dulcinea songs technically ‘immaculate,’ adding that the only thing he lacked was age, since his youth contradicted the old Don Quichote.

Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro 'Hai gia vinta la causa'
Sigmund Nimsgern (Conte Almaviva), Brabants Orkest – Hein Jordans (September 19, 1965; IVC Final Gala Concert)


Following his IVC Prize, he made his debut at the Saarländisches Staatstheater in Saarbrücken in 1967. In 1971, he went to the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and Duisburg. From there he began his international career as one ogf the most celebrated German bass-baritones of his generation. He sang at La Scala in Milan, at Covent Garden in London, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and at the Vienna State Opera. In the years 1983 to 1987, he sang Wotan at the Bayreuth Festival under Georg Solti, Peter Schneider and Peter Hall in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. He has recorded numerous operas including Marschner’s Der Vampyr, Weinberg’s , Flotow’s Martha, Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, Wagner’s Parsifal, and he received a 1989 Grammy Award for his recording of Lohengrin.

Telemann: Pimpinone 'So quel che si dice'
Sigmund Nimsgern (Pimpinone) (1978; LP IVC 25 Years)


Faith Pulston Jones (mezzo – UK)

IVC1965PulstonJonesSecond Prize winner in the Kathleen Ferrier category, the English mezzo Faith Pulston Jones, divided the press perhaps most. Van Dongen judged her appearance in the semi finals clouded by too much – or an ‘uncertain’ – vibrato that was disturbing in the letter scene from werther. However, her performance of a song by Poulenc proved excellent, much to his surprise, since Van Dongen hadn’t believed an English alt capable of such refinement in the French language. In the finals, Van Dongen judged her a ‘shrewd’ vocalist, who impressed mostly with an aria from Menotti’s The medium. In the concluding Gala Concert, Jones exceeded her achievements of the preliminary rounds according to local critic L. Sch. for Bossche Courant, and suddenly revealed a mezzo soprano voice to be jealous off. Piet Pijnenborg, finally, did find her voice resounding, although not very warm in the forte passages, and a little veiled in the mezza voce. Leo Hanekroot proved less impressed in De Tijd of September 9, and dubbed her a typical example of ‘Great parade, small garrison.’

Pompeiu Hărăşteanu
(bass – RO)

{VIDEO Ella giamai m'amo____}

‘With Pompeiu Hărăşteanu another highlight of the semi finals arrived to the test, even if he sang in a slightly exaggerated, theatrical manner without diversifying much between the various genres of opera oratorio and song. Having said that, I point here to his ringing voice, and a timbre so beautiful that a place in the finals can hardly escape him.’ (Johan van Dongen, Eindhovens Dagblad, September 10, 1965)

‘Conveying true meaning, dramatic expressing, and a musical conscience are the stuff that the University of Singing requires, and this was wholly realized in the likes of Sigmund Nimsgern and Pompeiu Hărăşteanu, also blessed with an immaculate technical mastership’ (Gerard Verlinden, unidentified Newspaper Clipping, September 13, 1965)

Based on publications in Eindhovens Dagblad 1965, Adevarul, Qmagazin, Romania Muzical, ZiDezi, and some unidentified Dutch newspaper clippings from 1965

Romanian translation: Monica Chelariu
With acknowledgement to: Pompeiu Hărăşteanu

IVC1965harasteanu1Romanian born bass Pompeiu Hărăşteanu (Gheorgheni, Harghit, Romania, September 14, 1935 –) graduated from the Conservatory Porumbescu, Bucharest, 1959. His principal teacher there was Petre Stefanescu Goangă. By 1960 he won Second Prize at the International Singing Contest ‘Erkel’ in Hungary. The prize money awarded to him there, was spent in a most untypical way, says the bass: ‘I bought a tape recorder from that money, which I then used to tape my father’s singing. He was singing so beautifully, and I treasure those four songs that I recorded with it.’ His early success at the Hungarian ‘Erkel’ vocal competition was followed by a last minute debut as the bass in Lohengrin, with the Romanian National Opera on tour in Berlin. Hărăşteanu:

‘The original bass had fallen ill, and they asked me to replace him at extremely short notice, even though I did not know the part. That gained me some credit.’ The next significant moment came when he obtained a prestigious Second Prize at the International Vocal Competition in ‘s Hertogenbosch, amidst an exceptionally strong field of competition, among them First prize winners Ileana Cotrubaș, Viorica Cortez, and Sigmund Nimsgern. Hărăşteanu: ‘Winning in Den Bosch with my colleagues Viorica and Ileana was of major importance. I still remmeber my first visit to The Netherlands, the museums, the aiport… When I first saw the Netherlands , museums , airports…’

Regrettably, in technical terms Pompeiu Hărăşteanu's IVC Gala Concert appearance in 'Ella giamai m'amò' from Verdi's Don Carlo ranks among the very worst preserved. Therefore, we ask you not to judge the young Hărăşteanu on the basis of this brief excerpt of the complete tape, but rather on the other excerpts presented here and on his 401DutchDivas.nl page, which was made in direct cooperation with the Romanian bass himself.

Verdi: Don Carlo 'Ella giamain m'amò'
Pompeiu Hărăşteanu (Don Carlo), Brabants Orkest – Hein Jordans (September 19, 1965; IVC Final Gala Concert)

His IVC victory was followed by his debut at the Bucharest National Opera in 1966, as Ferrando in Il Trovatore. Hărăşteanu has no problems to reflect on the politics behind all the early stages in his career, where one thing resulted into the next, but allways carefully planned and programmed by the Ministry of Culture. Hărăşteanu also sheds light on how his participation to the international competitions materializes:

‘My success in Den Bosch resulted in the Ministry offering me to participate in further competitions, such as the International Competition ‘George Enescu’ Bucharest, where I obtained another Second Prize, and then the International Singing contest ‘Francisco Viñas’ in Barcelona, 1968, where I won the First Prize. That victory finally resulted in an engagement with the Bonn Opera House in Germany, where I was engaged for three seasons, after which I returned for a permanent engagement with the National Opera Bucharest. Those were difficult times, since the Securitate did not trust me to return. I had trouble with the secret service, and only after I had accepted to return, things calmed down.’

His debut role in Bonn was Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, and he remained at the house from 1968 to 1972. During this period he sang on several stages of the world, alongside vocal giants such as Aldo Protti, Elena Obrasztsova, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Giuseppe Taddei, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Carlo Bergonzi, Agnes Baltsa, Renata Scotto, Nicola Ghiuselev, and such conductors as Karl Böhm, and Herbert von Karajan. From 1972 onwards, Hărăşteanu was a soloist of the National Opera in Bucharest. Among his many recollections of those years, stand out his performances at the Bolshoï Theatre Moscow. Hărăşteanu:

‘The Russian harmonica that I found on my way back from Russia after the War, was the first gift I received from that country – it tuned my heart to music. Later, I sang at the Bolshoï three times, with the Romanian State Opera. I was Evgeni Onegin there, then also Enescu’s Oedipe.’

Low bass

IVC1965HarasteanuPompeiu Hărăşteanu was known for his powerful low notes, and for roles such as Osmin in Mozart's Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte. The composer most dear to him, however, is doubtlessly Wagner. Pompeiu Hărăşteanu sang in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and The Netherlands. In total his career accumulates to over 8.000 performances in concert, opera, or recital.

His repertoire includes Bartok’s Bluebeard 's Castle, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Boito’s Mefistofele, Borodin’s Prince Igor, Delibes’Lakmé Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale, Enescu’s Oedipe, Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail,The Magic Flute, Gounod’s Faust, Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, Puccini’s Turandot, Rossini’sIl barbiere di Siviglia, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Verdi’sAida, Don Carlo, Ernani, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Un ballo in Maschera, Nabucco, Simon Boccanegra, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Rheingold, Die Walküre, Götterdämmerung, Tannhäuser. Apart from his singing, Hărăşteanu also made an impact on the Romanian musical scene as a teacher, and as the General Director of the National Opera (from 1995 to 1997, interim 2001). For his achievements in Romania, he received the Order of Cultural Merit class II (1986), and the National Order of Merit Knight (2002). He never really retired; as late as 2011 he was still performing at the National Opera, and at the Bucharest Comical Opera for Children. At the time of writing, he treasures his work for the Comical Opera for Children in Bucharest:

‘Children take to opera as ducks to water, it's amazing. I do some tricks in Il barbiere di Siviglia, coming up with a flashlight, looking for Don Bartolo among them. All eyes are on me searching Bartolo, and they start helping me search, shouting: ‘We’ve seen him, he’s there!’

Even at over 75 years of age, he continues to work in the field, since, in his own words:

‘When I’m not working I feel useless on this earth, what to do then? Watch TV? No. As long as there is a stage for me, I’ll clim onto it.’

Thus, he was performing Zaccaria in Nabucco at the National Opera Bucharest as late as 2011, in a festive performance commemorating 110 years since Verdi’s death.

For more information, photos, recordings, discographic information and an interview with him,please visit the 401DutchDivas Pompeiu Hărăşteanu page.


Joke Kramer (sop – NL)

Following the 1965 IVC semi finals, Leo Hanekroot asked the readers of De Tijd the rhetorical question what good in terms of artistry could possibly come from Drenthe, his answer was: Joke Kramer. Although not yet a complete artist, Hanekroot thought that she would have been a certain great prize winner if she had waited a few years with coming to Den Bosch, for she was ‘musical, showed taste, and had a voice that was well trained.’ All she needed more was experience and personal development in order to understand the personalities of Schubert’s Suleika, and that one shouldn’t sing ‘Pie Jesu’ from Fauré’s Requiem in a slow tempo because it was religious, but fast and floating because it was Fauré. Her aria from Lortzing’s Waffenschmied thereagainst, was delicious, brimming with dramatic impulse and sung in a most beautiful tone of voice, wrote Hanekroot. His opinion was confirmed by Johan van Dongen, who dubbed her voice as crystalline in Eindhovens Dagblad, and proved impressed by her rendition of Schubert’s Suleika II. He predicted her a great future even though she lacked ‘temperament, a shortcoming that she shares with most Dutch sopranos.’ The finals confirmed her strong points, which were innate musicality and a delicate, beautiful timbre. However, Johan van Dongen also though that although she sang heartwarmingly beautiful in the finals, she would have to gain significant in terms of volume for her to ever advance from her encouragement prize to the level of true prize winners in Den Bosch, if only because winning would require her to sing with a full sympony orchestra.

Nothing is known to us of Dutch soprano Joke Kramer’s further career. Should you have more information, photos, recordings with her,we would welcome you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Willy Caron (tenor – NL)

  • IVC1965WillYCaronLP
  • IVC1965WillYCaronSlide1
  • Caron at the time of his IVC participation
  • Willy Caron in the 1970's

‘There came our own Heldentenor, Willy Caron. We were informed that he was previously employed with the marechaussee or the border patrol, and his singing career was restricted to weddings and parties of sorts – just for the love of it. That was until an officer told him that he had a real voice that should be trained to come to full fruition. He provided Caron with the means to study, and meanwhile he already foud a recording company prepared to invest money in his career. He has a great vocal coach, the same who coaches Joke Kramer. He recently triumphed at the Verdi Competition in Venice and it isn’t hard to imagine that blew the competition away. He may not yet be ‘ready,’ but he is certainly already a tenor graced by the Gods, and, again with a few ‘Hallelujas’ to the almightly above, that he was born with a singer’s heart and instinct. One could list what he is lacking, but why should we? The experts are working on that, and therefore I rather list what he is could one day achieve. How delightful to hear him sing not only Verdi, and Strauss, but also ‘Ich trage meine Minne,’ so natural and innocent, relishing in the sheer bauty of the melody, and able to project that love through his voice. It was a warm shower to those present, who could compare his pure interpretation with the customary ones of the Princes of Song, who usually let it fall from their lips as meaningless soap bubbles of sorts. I pray that Caron will remain as he is, and will not be swept from his feet by the temptations of fame. Only for that reason, to keep him with both feet on the ground, the Jury should give him no more than the Encouragement Prize.’ (Johan van Dongen, Eindhovens Dagblad, September 1965)

Léhar: Das Land des Lächelns 'Dein ist mein ganzes Herz'
Willy Caron (Prince Sou-Chong), Dutch Radio, 1960s.

Willy Caron
(June 15, 1934 ­– April 26, 2010) impressed enough in the Max’s aria ‘Durch die Wälder’ from Der Freischütz, ‘Che gelida manina’ from La bohème, and Franck’s ‘Panis Angelicus,’ for the jury to grant Johan van Dongen’s plea and hand him an even lesser prize, a grant for the Vocal Summer School in nearbye Vught. There it was hoped that Caron would take the time to balance his talents with a more sound technique. However, there were not only more competitions than the one in Den Bosch, but the prestigious ones attrackted more and more the same singers. This also meant hat they oggled closely each other’s results. Caron went from Den Bosch to Verviers, where he obtained the Second Prize, followed by a First prize in Brussels. These splendd results propelled him into a brief international career during the second half of the 1960’s, when he also recorded several vinyl albums. Among them several with the Mastreechter Staar Choir, one with operatic arias, and a Christmas album!


Julijana Anastasijević

IVC1965JulianaAnastaseijevicLPThe IVC 1965 saw the return of former 1962 Second Prize winner, the Yugoslavian mezzo-soprano Julijana Anastasijević. Her courage as not rewarded with a promotion to the ranks of First Prize winners, since the 1965 edition saw her reaping no more than an honorary diploma. Even so this was quite an accomplishment, for the 1965 edition of the IVC was perhaps the year with the largest contingent of singers who would become true stars of the classical music stages in the world. Fortunately, Johan van Dongen dedicated a few lines to her singing in the finals, where she excelled in a very balanced performance of Schumann’s ‘Mondnacht.’ The eminent Dutch music critic Gerard Verlinden noted that she had returned to Den Bosch as a more complete, ‘accomplished’ soprano of considerable ability.

Of Anastasijević’ career little is known outside the former Yugoslavian Republic, other than that she sang there for many years, before becoming a valued teacher in the Pristina Conservatory. As an accompanist, she can be seen in a YouTube video from 2011, accompanying young singer Marija Matic in… ragtime. A 1982 vinyl recording shows her voice to best avail in Krešimir Baranović ‘s ‘Sinfonijeta Za Gudački Orkestar.’ Should you have more information, photos, recordings with Julijana Anastasijević,we would welcome you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Heide Baetge (soprano – GE)

‘She impressed in a composition by Alban Berg.’ (J. A., Bossche Courant, September 13, 1965)

Nothing more than this little accolade is known to us of German soprano Heide Baetge’s further career.Should you have more information, photos, recordings with Heide Baetge,we would welcome you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Françoise Rogez (mezzo – FR)

‘During the finals, Françoise Roger excelled in De Falla’s ‘Jota’’ (Johan van Dongen, Eindhovens Dagblad, September 13, 1965)

Other than this accolade from Eindhovens Dagblad, little is known about French mezzo soprano Françoise Rogez, except that she did have a provincial career in France, most notably around Lille, where we could trace an undated performance together with soprano Agnès André, accompanied on the piano by Misao Yamauchi. Another recital shows her appearing in a 1968 recital with the Orchestre symphonique de la neuvième Session internationale de musique de Saint-Cére, with 1960 IVC participant, the bass Jacques Villisech. According to Van Dongen for Eindhovens Dagblad, the semi finals proved Françoise Roger in possession of a delicate, sensitive timbre and great musicality in both her perfomances of Honegger’s ‘Psaume 140,’ as in an aria by Ponchielli. Van Dongen thought it impossible that she had not made an impression on the Jury with these accomplishments, given also that the audience showed great enthusiasm for her singing. Her rendition of Schubert’s ‘Im Frühling,’ finally, showed great artistry. Should you have more information, photos, recordings with Françoise Rogez,we would welcome you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wojciech Jan Smietena
(bt – PO)

According to Johan van Dongen in Eindhovens Dagblad, Polish baritone Wojciech Jan Smietena possessed the most beautiful baritone voice of the IVC 1965, even though he was surpassed in other aspects by the strong Romanian opera bass Hărăşteanu and the German ‘artist’ Sigmund Nimsgern. Duting the semi finals, Smietena, who opened for the baritones on September 10, impressed most with his beautiful mezza voce. Nothing more is known to us of Polish baritone Wojciech Jan Smietena’s further career. Should you have more information, photos, recordings with Wojciech Jan Smietena,we would welcome you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.