Angela Beale

(s - USA)

Françoise Nicole Grand Perrin-Bodesson
(s – ??)
Susanne Bavari 
(s – NL)
Kaja Borris
(s; later ms – NL)
Sylvia Coulber
(s – USA)
Wendy Eathorne
(s – UK)
Noor Leertouwer
(s – NL)
Margaret van der Post 
(s – SA)
Catherine Ryan 
(s – AUSTRA)
Csilla Zentai
(s – HO)


Ria Bollen

(ms – BE)

Edith Guillaume 

(ms – DA)

Paula Page

(ms – USA)

Oriel Sutherland

(alto – UK)

Michito Takanashi 

(ms – JAP)

Ruxandra Vlad
(ms – RO)


Hans-George Dahmen 

(bt – GE)

Ilie Baciu

(bs ­– RO)

Alexandru Farcas

(bt – HU)

Nelson Martilotti

(bt – UR)


Dirk Schortemeier

(bt – GE)

Jaromir Vavruska

(bt – CZ)

Hubert Waber

(bs – NL)



Johan van Dongen for Eindhoven’s Dagblad gave a very precise account of the semi-finals, which we present here since it also includes desciptions of the voices and achievements of the lesser known candidates. According to the critic, letting pass two alt-mezzos to the finals, would oblige the Jury to give such passage to not less than 5 candidates in the bass-baritone category. Van Dongen predicted that he winner would also come from the latter category, since the sopranos and alt/mezzos were not on a par, whereas no tenor even merited a place in the finals at all.


Among basses, later winners Hubert Waber and Ilie Baciu were praised for their timbres., and Van Dongen tipped them and Alexandru Farcas for the Jos Orelio prize:

‘Farcas impressed with an aria from Carmina Burana, and an aria by Giordano. The German Dirk Schortemeier showed a light baritone voice, that hardly fell short compared to the strong Romanian competitors, especially in Haydn’s ‘Lob der Faulheit.’ Very beautiful also the Czech Jaromir Vavruska, who tried to impress with his low notes while his strength lay in the higher songs of Durante and Mussorgsky. Beautiful also the baritone Nelson Martilotti, a heavy weight voice from Uruguay. His voice was hardly comparable with the exeptionally beautiful voice, with a high, light-weight baritone of Hans-Georg Dahmen from Germany, whose nature should have prevented him from touching upon ‘Gerne will ich mich bequemen,’ from the St. Matthew’s Passion.’

On the Alt/Mezzos

The morning session with six altos/mezzos was disappointing, said Van Dongen:

‘The Romanian Ruxandra Vlad was at best a diamond in the very rough. Belgian mezzo Ria Bollen has an enchanting timbre, but she couldn’t covince me. The young Danish mezzo Edith Guillaume might merit the encouragement prize. All mezzos bound to fail. Much better were the American Paula Page, who revealed a high mezzo soprano with an advanced technique; she excelled in aria’s from Strauss and Massenet. The only true alto in the company was the English alto Oriel Sutherland, who can easily claim to have the widest ranging alto voice in the world. Her compass showed enormous depths, while she was able to rise from there to remarkable hights. She had already been the best vocalist on Friday morning, with a glorious rendition of ‘Schlagende Herzen,’ by Strauss. The Japanese accompanist of Michito Takanashi was horrible in Bach’s ‘Erbarme dich,’ but she made up for it in arias by Mozart and Rossini, where the voice of Takanashi, rich in vibrato, was up to the task.’

On the sopranos

L. Sch., in an unidentified newspaper clipping, gives an account of the finals, starting with the sopranos, among which the Austalian Catherine Ryan didn’t leave any doubt as to that her voice and temperament are destined for the world of opera. Her powerful, radiant timbre stood out better in Il trovatore, than in Fauré’s Requiem. Of South-African soprano Margaret van der Post we learn that she had to overcome a significant physical handicap, which alone made a big impression. Her lyric-dramatic soprano was, however, not equally beautiful in all registers, especially not in the lower notes. She feel short in breath control. Having said that, Sch. noted that her coloratura singing was truly virtuose, and emotionally charged. Of later winner Czilla Zentai, Sch. noted that she might be able to clarify some imperfections in the upcoming finals to which she had been allowed to pass, since her strong voice seemed equally useful in more tha one category alone, although she herself favored opera. Of Françoise Nicole Grand Perrin-Bodesson we learn little more than that the critic would have wished for her to get another chance to prove herself in the finals, on the grounds of a precise excecution of an aria from Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie although that was not to be.

Overlooked but… not forgotten: Ruxandra Vlad!


Bizet: Carmen ‘L’amour’

Ruxandra Vlad (Carmen), 1970’s

© Romanian television


We have seen on these pages how critics ringed with the Jury, mostly over the merits of Csilla Zentai versus her female colleagues Angela Beale and Paula Page. There was one candidate, though, that apparently pleased none, since the few lines dedicated to her were not very encouraging – the Romanian soprano Ruxandra Vlad. She was judged far from ready, although Johan van Dongen did call her ‘’at best. a diamond in the very rough.’ Perhaps having had to return to her country’s officials empty handed, inspired her to work even more zealous than the work that had already gotten her to Den Bosch (visas were not handed out lightly in Romania), for Ruxandra Vlad became a genuine Romanian opera and operetta star in her native country. On her preserved Romanian television appearances, she is, among others, an utterly seductive Carmen, with a creamy voice that spins like an engine. Her natural beauty, never a punishment for a singer, is turned into a weapon in these television clips, without ever standing in the way of appreciating her rich, exotic voice. Had Vlad been ready in 1968, she would surely not have cut a lesser figure than Csilla Zentai in the list of successful winners of the past.