Samuel Hasselhorn looks back on his 2018 Competition experience

In May 2018, baritone Samuel Hasselhorn won the Voice Competition. Five years later, he looks back on this victory that took his life in an unexpected direction.

Can you share with us your memories of the Queen Elisabeth Competition ?

I think that my memories from the Competition will stay with me for my whole life - and they are of course fantastic memories ! Everything, starting from the organisation to the host family, to meeting the other competitors and pianists at the Competition in the wonderful halls (Flagey and the Centre for Fine Arts) with this enthusiastic and appreciative audience, will stay with me forever. I have to say that I probably underestimated how passionate the Belgians are about this Competition and how many people follow the rounds and watch it on TV. I went into the Competition like any other competition and noticed very quickly that this is a very special one, to which none other can compare.

How did you feel when you advanced from one round to the other?

I actually was just happy to present the entire repertoire I prepared for the Competition to the audience and the jury. It is always a pity if you prepare an hour of music, but you can present only 10% of it. So, I was just happy to move on in the different stages of the Competition without thinking too much about the other singers or thoughts from friends, audience members or anyone. I tried to stay as true to myself as I could.

How did you feel when you won the Competition ?

This was of course the very best feeling ! I was incredibly happy, relieved, and proud. It meant a lot to me that my wife was in the audience and could share this moment with me. There are even video clips on YouTube of the prize winners’ announcement that I watch from time to time, just to get this wonderful feeling back.

How did your First Prize influence your life and career ?

Winning the Queen Elisabeth Competition had a huge impact for my career. Dominique Meyer, who was in the jury, invited me to join the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper after the first round. I received an email with a firm offer on the day of my semi-final performance and could not quite realise it until the Competition ended. My wife and I had very different plans for life, but we ended up moving a few months later to Vienna and start our family life there. Professionally I could not accept all the concert offers that I received, which was a pity, but standing on the stage of the Wiener Staatsoper made it all the more worthwhile 🙂

In what way does this Competition differ from others ?

Many people give the advice to stay true to yourself on stage, which is absolutely right. Not so many people realise how difficult this is though. Actually, the Queen Elisabeth Competition is a competition that allows a participant to do exactly that. You can mostly choose the repertoire freely - within certain rules and boundaries. The Competition gives a huge chance to present special programs and repertoire in the different rounds. I am sure it makes it harder for the judges to judge, but it is a real joy to be in this Competition.

How was your career influenced by the corona years ?

My professional life basically stopped when Covid started - and I think the hardest part was that you did not know how long you had to stop, or when you could start again. And then any project you had afterwards would get cancelled last minute or you would get sick yourself. It has been quite challenging, but since everything in the arts started again, I have more work than I had before Covid.

Samuel is looking forward to be making some exciting role debuts in the season 23/24, such as Mathis (Mathis der Maler, Hindemith), Pelléas (Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy), and Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus, Strauss) at Staatstheater Nürnberg, as well as Wolfram von Eschenbach (Tannhäuser, Wagner) at Deutsche Oper Berlin. He will also revisit Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini) at Staatsoper Berlin and Don Giovanni (Mozart) at Staatstheater Nürnberg.

Relive the performances of Voice 2023
The Competition's CD's
This site uses cookies to provide you with the best experience possible.
By clicking on « ACCEPT » or continuing to browse the site, you accept the use of cookies on your web browser. For more information about our cookie policy and the different types of cookies used, click on Learn more