New York , NY , August 5, 2009 – On Thursday, November 19, the fifth annual Opera News Awards will be presented. The 2009 honorees are: soprano Martina Arroyo; mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; bass-baritone Gerald Finley; composer Philip Glass; and mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett.
The announcement is being made officially in the September issue of Opera News, published the second week of August. The gala awards dinner at New York ’s Gotham Hall on November 19 will be co-hosted for the second year running by Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson together; celebrity presenters will speak about the awardees, video and audio clips will be broadcast, and tributes from colleagues will be delivered. The November issue of Opera News will feature tributes to the five awardees, all of them distinguished members of the international operatic community, and will provide more details about the event.
The Opera News Awards were created in 2005 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. The awards recognize five individuals annually for distinguished achievement in the field of opera. Proceeds from the gala evening on November 19 will benefit the education programs of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
Martina Arroyo had one of the purest, most meltingly beautiful voices any Verdi soprano was ever blessed with; at her peak, she relegated most of her peers to falling in line behind her. Not only was she a thrilling artist: her commitment, curiosity, natural warmth and good humor have made her one of the most beloved people in her profession. - Features editor Brian Kellow
Joyce DiDonato sets the standard for Rossini singing today. She pairs an earthy, brilliantly flexible voice with glamour, intelligence and generosity as a performer in a wide range of repertoire, including Handel, Mozart, bel canto and Spanish song. - Managing editor Oussama Zahr
Gerald Finley’s eclectic, adventurous career has encompassed operas by Mozart, Purcell and Saariaho and songs by Schubert and Ives. His electrifying performance in the title role of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic exemplified his unique ability to create powerful drama through musical and vocal means. Finley is a rare anomaly – an artist whose lush, vibrant sound, intensity of expression and translucent clarity of diction can wring a tender, almost Romantic lyricism from the most modern and angular of idioms. - Louise T. Guinther, senior editor of Opera News
”Philip Glass’s artistic voice – mesmeric yet lucid – remains striking and singular in an era when contemporary music often attempts to encompass all styles at once. By composing operas that have celebrated the moral beacons of the 20th century, Glass has welcomed modernity’s heroes, as well as untold audiences, into the most ennobling of art forms.” - Adam Wasserman
“Shirley Verrett is one of opera's true legends – an artist whose beauty, elegance and charisma made her a favorite with audiences throughout the United States and Europe and a woman whose courage, tenacity and integrity have made her a role model for all artists. She created a legion of unforgettable performances in the mezzo-soprano and soprano repertory, including Lady Macbeth at La Scala, Gluck’s Iphigénie at the Paris Opera and both Casssandre and Didon in the historic Metropolitan Opera premiere of Les Troyens.” -Opera News Editor-in-Chief F. Paul Driscoll praises Ms. Verrett
Thomas Hampson and Susan Graham, co-hosts of the 2009 Opera News Awards for the second year in a row, each already has one of the awards in a trophy case at home.
Previous Opera News Awards honorees:
2005: James Conlon, Régine Crespin, Plácido Domingo, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick,
2006: Ben Heppner, James Levine, René Pape, Renata Scotto, Deborah Voigt
2007: Olga Borodina, Stephanie Blythe, Thomas Hampson, Leontyne Price, Julius Rudel
2008: John Adams, Natalie Dessay, Renée Fleming, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes