Saturday’s Selectia Nationala Final ended with a surprising victory for Cezar “The Voice” Ouatu, who is virtually unknown in Romania – mainly because he lives in Italy, but also because countertenors are not big on the Romanian music scene.

In a nail-biting event, he even beat Casa Presei during the televoting, and placed third in the jury votes behind Electric Fence and Luminita Anghel. That was enough to finish first.

But who is Cezar Ouatu, who called him “The Voice” and why?

Born in Romania to a family of musicians, he started studying the piano at 6 and, after finishing school, started a career in jazz. He discovered his voice at the age of 20 and was admitted to the Giuseppe Verdi conservatory in Milan, from where he graduated with honors. At the age of 33, he is now considered one of the world’s best countertenors. He is popular not only among the fans, who call him “The Voice”, but also among his peers: Famous musicians like soprano Angela Gheorghiu, singer Andrea Bocelli and composer Vangelis consider him one of the greatest voices in the opera world.

Last year however, he decided to embrace the mainstream and to perform for a larger audience. His first single, “Cinema Paradiso”, was released just last Christmas, as the first pop opera project in Romania:

Songwriter Cristian Faur and Cezar

Songwriter Cristian Faur – who, coincidentally, also wrote Luminita Anghel’s “Let Me Try” – first had the younger Narcis Ianau (another popular Selectia Nationala 2013 contestant) in mind. But then he was introduced to Cezar Ouatu and knew he had the right artist. The song “It’s My Life” was recorded just days before the pre-selection deadline, and entered the competition at the last minute. The rest, as they say, is history, which culminated with Cezar’s surprising triumph over more established names and feared favorites.

However, reactions in Romania and all over Europe have been either very pro or extremely against him (there are a lot of counter-countertenor jokes flying around), with very few, if any, being indifferent to the Romanian entry.

In a TVR show on Sunday that analyzed the result of the Final, Cezar himself admitted that his style of singing is not the norm for Eurovision, but the fact that he people voted for him gave him hope and confidence that he will repeat the victory in Sweden. He also announced that the Romanian delegation will promote it throughout Europe prior to the contest in May.

During the same show, Dan Manoliu, chief of the Romanian Eurovision committee, noted that Cezar is a polarizing choice for Romania. Here’s what he said:

Dan Manoliu

After the Final, I couldn’t sleep a wink. I stayed up all night and read the comments, the blogs, and the Eurovision forums, and all I can say is that it’s a toss-up. For me it is clear that we will either sink to the bottom of the list or rise to the very top. Opinions vary to the extremes, there are no in-betweens. People either love or hate the song. But it’s definitely a plus that it’s not a forgettable act. And we will do our best to make it truly unforgettable in a good way. But it will still be up to the voters and the juries, and we won’t know until the end of the semi-final if we can dream big or if we have to come home early.

The article I posted on Saturday night, shortly after the Final ended, seems to only confirm this: you guys find Cezar’s performance of “It’s My Life” either awful or awesome.

The only question is how many people love it and how many hate it? Is it really a toss-up or is it possible that Romania could even fail to even qualify for the Eurovision Grand Final?

Let’s listen to “It’s My Life” once again and put this question to the test.

You are welcome to defend your decision – or, if you are undecided, to come out – below. PS: If you were busy watching the Swedish Final on Saturday, you can watch the Romanian one here.

Bogdan Honciuc is a Transylvania-based correspondent for wiwibloggs and an official blogger for Eurovision Romania 2013. Follow him on Twitter @stingoo.

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Raluca B
Raluca B
7 years ago

HELL YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES !!!! :X

Anca Ion
7 years ago

Cezar, his voice is like a crystal,an international artist,good performance!!Bellissimo!!!

LOLA ZIMMERMAN
LOLA ZIMMERMAN
7 years ago

It’s all good!when somebody hate you with so passion,is mean that you are something,you are somebody!i couldn’t care less what haters say…i can understand…CEZAR THE VOICE is just for the elite,is high class!

Vio
Vio
7 years ago

Whatever happens in the semi-finals and the final, Cezar remains a winner for his fans. An artist can never satisfy everyone, and he knows this better. The type of music he performs appeals only to a category of audience, which he has already conquered! Even if he does not win (although stay tuned for surprizes!), his fans will stand by him. Good luck Cezar, the world would be a lot poorer without your voice!

yogafire
yogafire
7 years ago

For me it’s just terrible…

mary
mary
7 years ago

Cezar – great voice! I love “It’s my life”! Day after day, Cezar has more fans! Cezar, the Voice, is the big surprise to Eurovision! AVE CEZAR!

Jean Mallee
Jean Mallee
7 years ago

Great song, I’m impressed by the combination between his voice and the dance song. Mark my words: No one sees this coming, but this guy is a potential winner of this year’s Eurovision. Period.

Fulano
Fulano
7 years ago

This song is a pile of crap, and a torture to my ears. Romania does not deserve the final this year. Period.

Simmon from
Simmon from
7 years ago

AMAZING SONG 😡

Zolan
Zolan
7 years ago

Any copypasting of words without understanding or engagement with others is equivalent to spam, and warrants identical treatment. There is no person.

Cezar clearly enjoys passionate support from some, and fascinates many others. It’s all good.

AlAlekoff
AlAlekoff
7 years ago

Lovely song, but I doubt it will do too well. Not too sure it can have the same effect in a big venue. Still, in a field of forgettable entries, this one at least…is not.

Andrei
Andrei
7 years ago

Don’t pay attention to the user TASMANIAN DEVIL. He is paid by Luminita Anghel’s son to criticize Cezar on the internet. If you check Facebook, Eurovision Romania page and Eurovision Song Contest, this guy is talking trash about Cezar. He is just a troll and there is no need to pay attention.

Bogdan
7 years ago

@ John, I concur. But, to quote Dr House, you are doing something wrong if nobody hates you. The sheer number of comments and votes in this poll shows that Romania’s choice this year is unique and cannot be overlooked. “Tazmanian Devil” only confirms the theory that Cezar’s song and performance are highly polarizing the audience. Reactions vary from one extreme to the other. Too bad that some haters cannot express their point other than by booing, being unnecessarily vulgar and by copy/pasting other people’s opinions… They should learn to express their views in a more peaceful and civilized manner.… Read more »

John
John
7 years ago

@ Tazmanian Devil: what a disgrace you are for a human being. From what I see here, I can say only your ability to use a keyboard qualifies you for the latter. Get a life and let the music do the talk. The motto of this contest is peace and freedom.

Donna M.
Donna M.
7 years ago

Great Song! Amazing voice! Remarkable interpretation! I admire the courage of both writer and singer, and I believe the risk was worth taking no matter what the final Eurovision results will be. Bravo Cristian! Brovo Cezar! Take a step back, look around, and enjoy the talk, as you are already winners! Eurovision results will be the toping on the cake! You go guys!

M. M
M. M
7 years ago

C’mon guys, the guy can sing but the song is a big NO.
For me, Cezar is this years Anri Jokhadze, great singer, bad song.

Sandra
Sandra
7 years ago

Great voice, emotion, sensitivity. Cezar has more and more fans every day. The more I listen to this song the more I like it. It’s addictive. We listen, sing and dance!
Each year, ESC has at least one special competitor. In Malmo Cezar will be the big surprise. The audience will simply love his exceptional voice, his charming personality, his sensivity. We expect a great show. GO CEZAR!

Simmon from
Simmon from
7 years ago

And 12 points from Switzerland……. GO TO……GO TO….. RRRRRROOOOMANIIIIAAAAA
AMAZING SONG

Martin Goode
Martin Goode
7 years ago

Good song! Amazing voice! I’m sure this will be a nice surprise at Malmo. It will be interesting to see how Denmark is the favorite and Romania will actually get the win.

MiKaBiKa
MiKaBiKa
7 years ago

And 12 points from Russia go to….ROMANIA ! I hated last year Romania entry, but I love this year’s one. He gives me goosebumps!!!! WHAT A VOICE!!!!!!!!

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
7 years ago

I believe here is the winner. This guy is fantastic! His voice is unique and the song is catchy. I don’t understand why are people talking about not making the final, my prediction is that he will win Eurovision and I’m not joking. Is the same thing that happened to Lordi, everybody was saying that they were a fail, but they won. He has support from Andrea Bocelli from what I’ve heard. Another major factor. Despite that he is well known around the world by Opera lovers.

MF
MF
7 years ago

@ Bogdan, apparently the claim is that all votes were counted, just the confirmations were delayed..
http://adevarul.ro/entertainment/muzica/sistemulde-votare-tvr–functionat-normal-1_513cc54a00f5182b85ef094f/index.html

Anyway, I can’t vote as I don’t live in Europe…

chris
7 years ago

i don’t enjoy the song. Romania can have a send someone who has compulsive sneezes for 3 minutes and it will still qualify.

Lika
Lika
7 years ago

The majority says yes? HAHAHAHAHA, all deaf as fuck, since it’s the most horrible song this year.

Helena
Helena
7 years ago

Cezar is simply the best!

Mady
Mady
7 years ago

Cezar is simply the best!

Ella
Ella
7 years ago

Thank you, David. I did not read them all, just reposted from another site. This should be correct ones and thank you for the video. Love is so bright Like a diamond in the light Love is so, so true I can painted my world in blue Love is so deep And it makes my life complete Like a mountain in the sky Love is high, so high Chorus: It’s my life And I know it’s not forever It’s my life And I’ll shame it all with you It’s my life And we were meant to be together I’ll give… Read more »

David Komornyk
David Komornyk
7 years ago

@Ella : those lyrics are wrong. Here are the correct ones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFzVT0NoNX8

Bogdan
7 years ago

@ MF, there was a problem with the televoting system – which raised a lot of questions. In short, most votes were not counted; many Romanians got text messages like “Sorry, the televoting is now closed” hours – or even days! – after the Final, although they did send the texts in the allocated time. Basically, my estimation, based on what I have gathered from other Eurovision fans and viewers, is that only one third of the votes – including the ones that were cast in Cezar’s favour! – were taken into account. During the Final, I personally sent two… Read more »

MF
MF
7 years ago

I hope he qualifies to the final more for him and fans rather than for Romanian public. Judging based on the televote numbers, there were not so many people watching the show…I did prefer him over Luminita and Electric Fence. Luminita is a great singer, but I did not like her song and unfortunately her antics either. Electric Fence plays a sort of music that I don’t like: while Sunta last year I think was mainly gypsy song (not sure what language she was singing in), the one from this year was a bit more “Balkan”/traditional – but I never… Read more »

Bogdan
7 years ago

Yes, Xander, I was excited as well. 🙂

xander
xander
7 years ago

P.S. Bogdan, nice that you were interviewed on the Romanian national selection!

Melissa J
7 years ago

If this is the song that brings Romania it’s first win, I will never be okay again. This could have been good if he kept the verses in a normal key and just sung the chorus in the higher octave. I don’t like hearing him sing so high for so long.

Ella
Ella
7 years ago

This is the optimistic message of “It’s My Life” delivered by an unmistakable voice and charismatic presence. Go C E Z A R!!! Go Romania!!! Love is so bright Like a diamond in the light Love is so so true Like it painted my life in blue Love is so deep And it makes my life complete Like a mountain in the sky Love is high so high Chorus: It’s my life I will spend this time forever It’s my life It’s a shame it ain’t with you It’s my life I will make this forever I give my life,… Read more »

David Komornyk
David Komornyk
7 years ago

What question is that? I will be upset if this guy will not win. He is special, very special, his voice gives me goosebumps everytime I listen this song. 12 POINTS FROM HUNGARY !

LOLA ZIMMERMAN
LOLA ZIMMERMAN
7 years ago

He is fantastic,a divine voice!We are lucky to have him!

Ania
Ania
7 years ago

oh god, this is a mess! i can’t even understand what he’s saying in the chorus other than “it’s my life”… but i do think that song would be so much better with a normal voice….and a different singer 🙂 but just like that… hell to the no no 🙂

Rupert fro Germany
Rupert fro Germany
7 years ago

LOL. It is more like for hell to freeze than this song to qualify. Greatest ESC epic fail ever.

John
John
7 years ago

Well, Romania are in a bit of trouble this year thanks to the new voting system – polarizing entries will be punished.

Still, I have a feeling Romania will qualify to the final this year, but they probably won’t do to well there – I’m predicting a Sweden 2009 kind of result.

Ella
Ella
7 years ago

@Xander. Thank you Xander. See, that’s what I expected from a sophisticated European 🙂 .

Xander
Xander
7 years ago

@Ella I’m a native English speaker, and a lot of people’s grammar in English-speaking countries isn’t any better than Mo’s 😛

In my opinion Cezar should make the final. I agree that it’s a very polarizing entry, but I’m on the “enjoy it” side.

Ella
Ella
7 years ago

Whoever you are MO you better take a few English lessons before posting anywhere in Shakespeare’ language. Considering that the Grandmas from Russia were the follow up winners of last years’ ESC I have no expectations of winning this competition. What I do know is that for educated Europeans Cezar will make Romanians proud.

Mo
Mo
7 years ago

I didn’t think they’re were so few of us, I’m OK with this song, it’s alright, I’ll listen to it in the run up to the contest but I won’t actively try to listen to it and I wouldn’t skip past it.
I am very indifferent to it, I didn’t think it was as polarising as you say above but I can see why it’s had this effect.

Anca
Anca
7 years ago

Wow, he is amazing! I love ‘Cinema Paradiso’ :)!