Monday 8 April 2013

Opera Awards

The inaugural Opera Awards take place next week, on 22 April, at the Hilton Hotel with awards being presented in 22 categories, the first time that the opera world has had such an event. The idea being to celebrate opera, and perhaps cause a buzz to a wider audience. The event will also be supporting the creating of bursaries to help support young talent.

There are some big names in the running for awards, but also some interesting choices. The Male Singer category includes Aleksandrs Antonenko, Piotr Beczała, Joseph Calleja, Jonas Kaufmann, Luca Pisaroni and Bryn Terfel. It is good to see singers like Antonenko (who made a stir here in Il Trittico and Otello at Covent Garden) and Beczala alongside Calleja, Kaufmann and Terfel.  One curiosity is that the list of finalists on the Opera Awards website does not include any particular work for which the nominee is being considered.

The Female Singer category is equally closely run with Sarah Connolly (recently seen in ENO's Medea), Joyce DiDonato (her recent Maria Stuarda in New York was in Cinemas, a role she's bringing to Covent Garden next year), Evelyn Herlitzius (who has done some terrific work mainly on the Continent, London's loss, I remember seeing her in Weber's Euryanthe in Dresden), Catherine Naglestad, Nina Stemme and Béatrice Uria-Monzon. Connolly, DiDonato and Stemme will perhaps be best known in the UK but Naglestad and Uria-Monzon are also interesting choices.

There is a single Young Singer category, which includes Sophie Bevan, Andrei Bondarenko, Allan Clayton, Julia Lezhneva, Duncan Rock and Tamara Wilson. A great mix and I don't envy the judges trying to decide.

New productions include Claus Guth's Die Frau ohne Schatten at La Scala (which will be coming to Covent Garden), Dmitri Tcherniakov's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh for Netherlands Opera, Krzystof Warlikowski's Lulu, Christopher Alden's Norma for Opera North, Richard Jones's Peter Grimes at La Scala and  Jossi Wieler and Serio Morabito's La Sonnambula. The problem with such lists is that they always miss out your favourite production, but the list does seem to favour a certain style of director and was Christopher Alden's Norma the best thing on offer in the UK last year - discuss!

Tcherniakov (best known in the UK for his rather disappointing Simon Boccanegra for ENO, but best represented by the Eugene Onegin brought by the Mariinsky), Claus Guth and Richard Jones als features on the Director list (with Stefan Herheim), and Tcherniakov crops up on the Designer list too - busy boy.

Baroque opera makes in interesting showing. The Complete Opera CD list includes Handel's Alessandro and Vinci's Artaserse with Vinci's Artaserse cropping up again in the re-discovered work category. The others in this latter category include Honegger's Les Aventures du Roi Pausole at Opéra de Genève Donizetti's Belisario with Opera Rara and Charpentier's David et Jonathas with Les Arts Florissants. These latter two seem to be stretching things, I seem to remember that it was Chelsea Opera Group who first performed Belisario in London (with Richard Bonynge conducting) about a year before the Opera Rara performances. Having heard both performances, I'm still not convinced about the work. And Les Arts Florissants performed David et Jonathas at the Barbican around five years ago or so, so when is a re-discovery a re-discovery.

Its easy to get nit-picky. Does the Metropolitan Opera's 'access' count as the same thing as the work by Streetwise opera, in the Accessibility category? But the awards help celebrate opera, and bring to the for the real stars of today, rather than harping back on past glories as many of us tend to do. And yes Antonio Pappano is in the Conductor category, but so is Christian Thielman

You can read the full list at the Opera Awards website
Elsewhere on this blog:

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