Once upon a time there was a king who took great delight in the melody of a little bird outside his window. Then, as winter came, the bird disappeared and the king grew melancholy. Three brave men set out to find one that could sing "the most beautiful song." Did they succeed? What begins as an enchanting fairy tale turns into exciting reality in this documentary on the first edition of baritone Thomas Quasthoff's new international song competition for young singers, "Das Lied." With the fairy tale gently articulating the course of the competition, the film sweeps the viewer away on a thrilling "search for singers." Thomas Quasthoff founded this contest to ensure that the Lied, which the baritone calls "the most beautiful form of music making," continues to hold its place in the concert repertoire of the future.
The film accompanies some of the young singers during the competition's three rounds, providing a showcase not only for beautiful voices and poignant Lieder, but also, and above all, for emotions. The hopes and disappointments, the joys and doubts, the tension and exhilaration of the young singers are all captured on film. And it soon emerges that the contest is as stimulating and galvanizing for the jurors as it is for the contestants!
Excerpts from the closing gala concert recorded at the sumptuous Apollo Hall of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin round off the film. In addition to Thomas Quasthoff, one of the top baritones and Lied singers of our day, the jury includes such distinguished vocalists as Brigitte Fassbaender and Annette Dasch, as well as the famed accompanists Helmut Deutsch and Charles Spencer. Among the prizewinners who perform at the gala concert are German baritone Tobias Berndt and Austrian baritone Daniel Schmutzhard. According to Quasthoff, the goal of this project is to find the successors to the greatest singers of today and to discover new voices. It is, in essence, very much like the melancholy king's search for his little bird and its unforgettable melody.
Gala concert of the Lucerne Festival
The 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, 2009