Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 22:40 UK

Russian wins Singer of the World

Ekaterina Shcherbachenko with Cardiff Singer of the World trophy
Ekaterina Shcherbachenko with the Welsh crystal competition trophy

The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2009 final has been won by Russian soprano Ekaterina Shcherbachenko.

Speaking after the result was announced, the 32-year-old said it was the "happiest day" of her life.

She beat four other finalists from Japan, Italy, Ukraine and the Czech Republic to win a trophy and £15,000.

Shcherbachenko performed in French and Italian in a packed St David's Hall, before closing in English with Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress.

The £2,000 Audience Prize, chosen by public telephone vote, was the youngest competitor - 21-year-old Italian tenor Giordano Lucà.

In all, 25 competitors were selected from more than 600 original entrants to the competition.

The four other finalists were: soprano Eri Nakamura, 31, from Japan; Luca, 21, from Italy; bass Jan Martiník, 26, from the Czech Republic and 30-year-old counter-tenor Yuriy Mynenko, from Ukraine.

Martinik beat four other finalists, including Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw, 22, from Morriston, Swansea, to win the competition's £5,000 song prize.

This year all the singers are eligible to benefit from a new bursary to help towards the development of their musical careers.

A follower of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, Annie Sankey, has left the competition a bequest and a new bursary in her name to support singers who take part in the competition has been established.

Menna Richards, director of BBC Cymru Wales, said: "The bursaries will help support the studies of competitors, including helping with travel and the purchase of musical scores."

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