Oper Frankfurt has been voted Best Opera Company at the first "International Opera Awards" ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel in London on Monday April 22nd.
Among those responsible for bringing these new awards, "The Operas", to life were John Allison, editor of the renowned "Opera" magazine and British businessman Harry Hyman, Managing Director of the worldwide Nexus Group. Hyman is also a knowledgeable and passionate opera fan: "Opera hides its light all too often under a bushel, so we hope our awards will help bring the genre to a wider audience." Hyman also works hard helping to support young talented artitsts and encouraging people and companies to sponsor the arts in general. In November John Allison announced in Opera Magazine that he would welcome nominations for the awards. They received more than 1.500 replies from music specialists and opera lovers from 41 countries. Short lists were drawn up in 23 categories by a jury chaired by John Allison. Members of the jury included journalists Hugh Canning, Rupert Christiansen and Andrew Clements, soprano (and Bayreuth Brünnhilde) Dame Anne Evans, intendants Peter Alward (Salzburg Easter Festival), David Gockley (San Francisco Opera), Joan Matabosch (the Liceu in Barcelona) and Guus Mostart (Reisopera Enschede) and the Director of Opera Europa, Nicholas Payne. They were joined in the final round by Kathryn Harries, Director of the National Opera Studio in London, and the writer Barry Millington.
Other categories in "The Operas" (as the organisers wish it to be known in the future) included "Conductor" (won by Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London), "Orchestra" (winner: Metropolitan Opera New York), "Chorus" (Cape Town Opera), "Director" (Dmitri Tcherniakov), "New Production" (Rimsky-Korsakov's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh at De Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, directed by Dmitri Tchernikaov), "World Premiere" (George Benjamin's Written on Skin), "Newcomer" (conductor Daniele Rustioni), "Festival" (Salzburg), "CD of a complete opera" (Alessandro / Decca), "DVD" (Il trittico / Opus Arte), "Re-Discovery" (Charpentier's David et Jonathas / Les Arts Florissants), and "Accessibility" (Metropolitan Opera New York). A new and unusual category was "Philanthropist / Sponsor", which was won by businessman Sir Peter Moores whose generosity over many years has included making possible a great number of recordings, including operas in English, produced by the Opera Rara label. The "Liftetime Achievement Award") went to Sir George Christie, who ran the Glyndebourne Festival from 1956 - 1999.
Opera Intendant Bernd Loebe was in London for the ceremony: "the outcomes of these kinds of surveys are sometimes perceived with mixed feelings. One is of course very happy to win or come close to winning but if one does not come off well one is inclined to not take them too seriously. But the first scenario is without doubt the more pleasant! I – on behalf of our GMD Sebastian Weigle and everybody working at Oper Frankfurt – would like to express our thanks for being named Best Opera Company at the first ever 'International Opera Awards'. Our happiness mixed with a little pride that Oper Frankfurt obviously seems to have a good reputation abroad and can hold its own with other great opera houses around the world. My colleagues and I hope this might be a good omen in a time when once again, sadly, the financial viability of the arts in general, and opera in particular is being questioned. The joy this prize brings is mixed with the hope that, despite decisions about further cuts that might be forced upon us, the relevance of our work in society is not lost."
Winners of other categories and artists who have worked in Frankfurt before, and/or will be in the future, included Nina Stemme ("Female Singer"), Jonas Kaufmann ("Male Singer" and "Readers' Award") and Christian Gerhaher ("CD Opera Recital" Sony). The young British soprano Sophie Bevan, a "Rising Star" in who will be making her debut at Oper Frankfurt in 2013/14, won the "Best Up and Coming Young Singer" category. Other winners also known for their work in Frankfurt were Antony McDonald ("Set Designer"), Buki Shiff ("Costume Designer") and Paule Constable ("Lighting Designer").
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