• Zach Finkelstein

“Scam” Competition With $90 App Fee Lists "Contestants" Who Did Not Apply Without Their Consent

Updated: Jan 26

By Zach Finkelstein


The Online Classical Voice Competition Boris Martinovich listed at least nine singers among its "contestants" that did not apply to the competition, posting their bios, headshots, and edited videos of singers with the competition logo added, all without consent.

The online competition requires a $90 non-refundable application fee to submit materials, with a “virtual final round” on March 28th. The first prize, according to the site, includes $1,000 USD, a Carnegie Hall recital, and “online promotion”.

Mezzo-soprano Hannah Jeanè Jones, a student at Lawrence University, told Middleclass Artist that the Online Classical Voice Competition Boris Martinovich used a variant of her name, “Hannah Elizabeth Jones”, and posted her information without her permission:


“They used my video. They also took the time to read various articles about me and the bio on my Soarvoiceintensive website to conjure up a chopped and screwed biography. Then, they proceeded to use a picture of THE Pretty Yende.”

The competition also listed tenor José Cárdenas as a "contestant", but he confirms that he did not apply to the competition and did not provide them permission to post his materials:

"Online Classical Voice Competition "Boris Martinovich" que utilizo mis datos, fotos y un video para promocionar que estoy dentro de ese concurso, lo cual es falso...Creo que piden cuota de inscripción así que están timando a la gente. Y ocupado material fotográfico y visual sin autorización."


New York soprano Melanie Spector, a master’s student at the Manhattan School of Music, discovered her listing on January 23rd:


“I was scrolling and saw my name on the Boris Martinovich competition website, and was like, what? I never entered the competition. I never even heard of it. And I saw they were charging an application fee that I never paid. I saw they were using an old bio from a few years ago, and they had taken an old headshot from somewhere. They also used a recent recording of 'Caro Nome' I had uploaded to Youtube and put their logo on it. They probably downloaded it and uploaded it with their own logo, looking like I had submitted it.”

Melanie feels what the site is doing is “deplorable”:


“Young singers deserve better than to have their materials used without their permission. Young artists are already in a very vulnerable position as it is, especially during COVID when everything is so uncertain, and we’re all jumping at the next opportunity. When things like this arrive that are false, that are basically a scam, that’s just a terrible thing to do to young singers, who are really hoping for legitimate opportunities.”


When asked how she would want the issue resolved, Melanie said, “take the site down. Right now.”


She added, “let’s treat our young singers with more respect. We’re studying to do this for work, and not to be tricked and fooled into doing anything that would be a scam.”


The site also lists opera singer Denyce Graves-Montgomery as a "jury member" for the competition:

When asked for comment on January 24th, Denyce told Middleclass Artist that, “Boris asked her a while ago," but she doesn’t have any details:


“I have no information on this whatsoever! I was asked by Boris months ago and I asked him to send me info about it but until now I have received nothing. Boris and I sang together a lot in Europe but I haven’t seen him in years. I have NO information about the competition- I’d actually forgotten about it.”


Middleclass Artist reached out to the Online Classical Voice Competition Boris Martinovich through their contact form on the afternoon of January 24th and received an automated response requesting Middleclass Artist to “pay your 75 EUR/$90 application fee.”

At 2:12pm PST on January 24th, Middleclass Artist followed up with the personal email account listed above. A representative responded at 3:38pm PST, denying responsibility, and blamed the issue on applicants applying with "false material”:


“Dear Mr.Zach,


A moment ago we have received an Email from one person claiming what you claimed about the material and video.


We have received applications for every contestant,without having in mind that anyone would send false material.


We have started investigation and checking of every contestant who applied. And we are working on resolving the issue.


This is the first time we are organizing the competition ONLINE,and in this situation we cannot control who applies. We were assuming that people are sending their own materials.


Boris Martinovich is a big name in the world of opera,and If you will write about this,are you aware what kind of problem and the shadow you will put on the name of Boris Martinovich and on online competition in general?


We are very much surprised with this situation too. And all we can do is what we are doing right now-to investigate all the contestants and check who applied with the right material.

The Final round of the competition is planned to be alive online. So,I do not know how anyone could apply with fals material and expect to perform online.


I would like to ask for your discretion,because this situation has nothing to do with the Team who organized the competition,nor Mr.Martinovich. And we are doing everything in our power to investigate the situation and to make things right.


Thank you.

Christine Watt”

Within an hour of sending this email, the “Meet the Contestants” tab was removed from the website.

Before the competition deleted the tab, soprano Jennifer Lindsay saved the 'Contestants' pages in their entirety here using the Wayback Machine archive.


Until the afternoon of January 24th, the Online Classical Voice Competition Boris Martinovich contestant page listed the following singers by category and voice type:

1) Professional/Opera: Nayla Watson (soprano), Phoebe Kirrage (soprano), Sasha Petrovic (tenor), Tae Young Kang (bass-baritone), Elena Castresana (soprano), Sigal Chen (soprano), Gohar Azizyan (soprano), Martirosyan Anush (soprano), Alexandra Kirsanova (soprano), Andrea Pinna (tenor), Giovanni Carvelli (tenor), Melanie Spector* (soprano), Paola Monroy (soprano), Magdalena Feiner (soprano), Raffaele Pierno (tenor), Hannah Dobra (soprano), Andrew Chukwuka Egbuchiem (countertenor), Christine Laury (mezzo-soprano), Ille Saar (soprano), Amanda Blue (soprano), Andrew Chan (tenor), Catherine Psarakis (soprano), Ognyan Kanev (bass), Carrie Tong (soprano), Krzysztof Drozdowski (baritone), Cecilia Cai* (soprano), Kate Norigian (soprano), and Mariana Alejandra Alamos Ahumada (soprano).


2) University/Opera: Altankhuyag Otgonbold (tenor), Lee HakSung (tenor), Ian Matthew Castro* (tenor), Ilaria Casai (soprano), Anush Martirosyan (mezzo soprano), Dmytro Voronov (baritone), Anatoly Tronev (tenor), Son Hyo-Im (soprano), CONSTANÇA DE SOUSA E MELO (soprano), Luisa Reyes (soprano), JULIA ELIASHOV (soprano), Ekaterina Chayka-Rubinstein* (mezzo-soprano), Iveta Hejduková (soprano), Valerio Pagano (baritone), and Manon Duboc (soprano).


3) Professional/Song: SUSANNA PROSKURA (mezzo-soprano), Ille Saar (soprano), Paola Monroy* (soprano), Sodam Lee (soprano), José Cardenas* (tenor), Schirin

Hudajbergenova (soprano), Patrice Metcalf (soprano), Carrie Tong (soprano),

Mackenzie Simao (soprano), Laura Whittenberger* (soprano), Andrew Chan (baritone), and Amelia Jakobsson* (soprano).


4) University/Song: Altankhuyag Otgonbold (tenor), ANNA KISSJUDIT (mezzo-soprano),

Hannah Elizabeth Jones* (mezzo-soprano), ANNA VIKTOROVA (mezzo-soprano),

Ekaterina Chayka-Rubinstein* (mezzo-soprano), SHEILA FERRER (soprano), Ariel Michaelson (soprano), and Laura Kay (soprano).


(*Singers confirmed that they did not apply to the competition but were listed as "contestants". More to follow as the story develops.)

Hannah Jeanè Jones received the following emails on the afternoon of January 24th from Boris Martinovich, shortly after the competition's email exchange with Middleclass Artist. Mr. Martinovich informed her that they removed her video and information and that they are "investigating who sent your information to our competition”:

Hannah does not find the response credible:


“While I am flattered you took so much time to take a video from my YouTube page, repost it to your page, alter my name, find a picture of another Black singer since we apparently all look the same, use a picture of the great Pretty Yende of all people, find an article about me, find my bio, and create a chopped and screwed version of the two...this is very strange. There is no need to scam. Inviting singers to apply for your competition is totally acceptable. Using people’s content without their permission is not only unacceptable, but it puts us in a strange and vulnerable position. Shame on you all.”


ZF

Zach Finkelstein is a professional classical tenor soloist, a senior marketing manager at a public opinion research and strategy firm, and the editor and founder of Middleclassartist.com.

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