Press Room

2011 Opera News Awards honorees announced

New York, NY, August 2, 2011 – The seventh annual Opera News Awards will be presented on Sunday, April 29 at The Plaza in New York City, paying tribute to five extraordinary artists who have made an invaluable contribution to the art form: sopranos Karita Mattila and Anja Silja, baritones Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Peter Mattei, and director Peter Sellars.
The official announcement of this year’s honorees appears in the September 2011 issue of Opera News, which is available on August 4 and features baritone Mariusz Kwiecien – the Metropolitan Opera’s new Don Giovanni – on its cover. All of the winners will be present at the gala awards dinner, which will feature celebrity presenters speaking about the awardees and introducing video performance clips. The April 2012 issue of Opera News will feature tributes to the five awardees, all distinguished members of the international operatic community.
The Opera News Awards were created in 2005. They recognize five individuals each year for distinguished achievement in the field of opera. Proceeds from the gala evening on April 29 will benefit the education programs of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. 
The Opera News Awards include a special sweepstakes – introduced successfully last season – that will give a lucky winner round-trip air transportation for two to New York, provided by American Airlines, as well as a two-night stay at a Manhattan hotel and VIP tickets to the Opera News Awards. No purchase is necessary to enter the sweepstakes.
The editors of the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Opera News have offered brief pre-publication accolades to this year’s award recipients.
Senior Editor Louise T. Guinther pays tribute to Dmitri Hvorostovsky:   
Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s charisma, glamour, and vocal prowess are without peer. Equally persuasive on recordings, on the recital stage, and in the opera house, Hvorostovsky is a singer whose artistry speaks to everyone.
Managing Editor Oussama Zahr salutes Peter Mattei:
Peter Mattei’s lustrous baritone – firm and generously produced, with an appealing softness around the edges – sets him apart today as a marvelous singer. But it’s his astonishing ability to inhabit a range of characters – from the frothiest comedy to the bleakest tragedy – that makes him an artist of the highest caliber.
Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll praises Karita Mattila:
Karita Mattila is a glorious singer whose thrilling, no-holds-barred commitment to her music makes her a singularly compelling and beloved artist. Audiences everywhere adore Karita Mattila because she gives her all at every performance.
Online Editor Adam Wasserman offers his appreciation of Peter Sellars:
The artistry of Peter Sellars has invited audiences to reconsider beloved pieces of the repertory as present-day myths, while his productions of contemporary works have a timeless beauty that makes opera houses seem the most vital of institutions. His work unites the public with music and drama in ways that remind us of our own humanity.
Features Editor Brian Kellow applauds Anja Silja:
Anja Silja is a dramatic soprano capable of churning up a visceral excitement that few others could match, and an actress for whom cheating the audience is unthinkable.
Commenting further about the winners of the seventh annual Opera News Awards, Driscoll notes:   “Once again, the editors of Opera News take pride in celebrating the achievements of an extraordinary quintet of honorees. These five incomparable artists have enriched and inspired us all. It will be a privilege to welcome them to the Opera News Awards gala on April 29.”
Beyond offering the opportunity to pay tribute to the distinguished achievement of some of the leading artists of our time, the Opera News Awards gala dinner has become an important and much-anticipated date on the opera community’s calendar: a time for singers, artistic administrators, and managers, as well as social and political leaders who support opera, to come together in a spirit of camaraderie and celebration.

BNY Mellon Wealth Management is the corporate sponsor for this year’s Opera News Awards gala.
American Airlines is the lead presenting sponsor for the Opera News Awards sweepstakes.
Opera News has been published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild since 1936; it has the largest circulation of any classical music magazine in the United States. The magazine, published monthly, is a winner of three ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in music journalism.
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  
2009:  Martina Arroyo, Joyce DiDonato, Gerald Finley, Philip Glass, Shirley Verrett
2010:  Jonas Kaufmann, Riccardo Muti, Patricia Racette, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Bryn Terfel 
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Opera News Awards:  honoree bios
Internationally acclaimed Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky won the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 1989. From the start, audiences were bowled over by his cultivated voice, innate sense of musical line, and natural legato. After his Western operatic debut at the Nice Opera in Tchaikovsky’s Pique dame, his career exploded, leading to regular engagements at the world’s major opera houses and appearances at renowned international festivals, including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Teatro alla Scala Milan, the Vienna State Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

A celebrated recitalist in demand in every corner of the globe, Mr. Hvorostovsky has appeared at such venues as Wigmore Hall, London; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh; Carnegie Hall, New York; the Teatro alla Scala, Milan; the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, Moscow; the Liceu, Barcelona; Suntory Hall, Tokyo; and the Musikverein, Vienna. The singer performs in concert with top orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and with conductors including James Levine, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Yuri Temirkanov, and Valery Gergiev. 

Mr. Hvorostovsky retains a strong musical and personal contact with Russia. He became the first opera singer to give a solo concert with orchestra and chorus in Moscow’s Red Square; this concert was televised in more than 25 countries. Mr. Hvorostovsky has gone on to sing a number of prestigious concerts in Moscow as a part of his own special series, “Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Friends”. He has invited such celebrated artists as Renée Fleming, Sumi Jo, and Sondra Radvanovsky. Mr. Hvorostovsky now tours the cities of Russia and Eastern Europe on an annual basis.
Upcoming performances in the U.S. include a Lyric Opera of Chicago gala with Renée Fleming in January 2012, and Ernani and La traviata at the Metropolitan Opera.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s extensive discography spans recitals and complete operas. Recent releases include a DVD with Renée Fleming in a film set in St Petersburg. Two new solo CDs – Tchaikovsky Romances and Pushkin Romances (both with pianist Ivari Ilja) – and a recording of Verdi Opera Scenes with Sondra Radvanovsky have all been recently released to much critical acclaim.
Swedish baritone Peter Mattei studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and at the University College of Opera in Stockholm. While still a student, Mr. Mattei made his debut in 1990 as Nardo in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera at the Drottningholm Court Theatre. He made a sensational Royal Swedish Opera debut the following year, as Pentheus in Daniel Börtz’s The Bacchae, directed by Ingmar Bergman. In 1998, Mr. Mattei received international acclaim for his interpretation of the title role in Don Giovanni at Aix-en-Provence, directed by Peter Brook. In the seasons since, Mr. Mattei has established himself as one of the most sought-after singers of his generation. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2002, as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, and has since returned to the company for Don Giovanni, Marcello in La bohème, Prince Yeletsky in The Queen of Spades, and Rossini’s Figaro, which he sang in the 2006 premiere of Bartlett Sher’s staging of Il barbiere di Siviglia and its subsequent “Live in HD” presentation. In 2009, Mr. Mattei was Shishkov in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Janácek’s From the House of the Dead, directed by Patrice Chéreau, and he sang Shishkov again when the Chéreau staging was presented at La Scala.

Other North American appearances for Mr. Mattei include Count Almaviva at Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera, and the title role in Eugene Onegin at Tanglewood. In Europe, Mr. Mattei has sung Onegin at Wiener Staatsoper and the Salzburger Festspiele; Posa in Don Carlo at Den Norske Opera; Don Giovanni at Scottish Opera, La Scala, Opéra National de Paris and Staatsoper Berlin; Count Almaviva at Covent Garden and Glyndebourne; Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with the Royal Swedish Opera; Billy Budd at Frankfurt Opera; Wolfram in Tannhäuser at La Scala; Fernando in Fidelio in concert at the Lucerne Festival; and Chorèbe in Les Troyens in concert with the London Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, Mr. Mattei will return to the Met for Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia (October 2011) and he will sing Don Giovanni at the season opening of La Scala (December) and at Opéra National de Paris (March–April).

Mr. Mattei is the founder of his own festival in his native Lulea in northern Sweden; the festival offers international-level concerts and opera performances.
Karita Mattila is one of today’s most exciting lyric dramatic sopranos, recognized as much for the beauty and versatility of her voice as for her extraordinary stage ability. A native of Finland, Miss Mattila was trained at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where her teacher was Liisa Linko-Malmio, and she subsequently studied with Vera Rózsa for nearly 20 years. Miss Mattila sings in all the world’s major opera houses and festivals and has performed with the world’s greatest conductors, including James Levine, Claudio Abbado, Jirí Belohlávek, Andrew Davis, Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Bernard Haitink, Anthony Pappano, Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Wolfgang Sawallisch. In an operatic repertoire that encompasses works by Beethoven, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, and Janácek, Miss Mattila’s innate sense of drama has led to remarkable partnerships with major stage directors, including Luc Bondy, Lev Dodin, Peter Stein, and Jürgen Flimm.

Miss Mattila is an influential artistic force in the development of new music, regularly collaborating with eminent contemporary composers in the debut performances of significant modern works. Her recent successes in this genre include the 2010 world premiere of Émilie by Kaija Saariaho at the Opéra National de Lyon. 

Miss Mattila is a regular visitor to the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her company debut in 1990 as Mozart’s Donna Elvira, and she performs at other major North American theaters, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. She has starred in three of the Met’s “Live in HD” presentations: Manon Lescaut, Salome and Tosca. Miss Mattila’s New York appearances this season include a Carnegie Hall recital with Martin Katz in December, a Carnegie Hall concert with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony in March, and her first Metropolitan Opera performances of Emilia Marty in Janácek’s The Makropulos Case in April and May, conducted by Jirí Belohlávek.

Miss Mattila was named Musician of the Year by Musical America in 2005, and she has received Grammy Awards for her work in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1998) and Jenufa (2004). The French government has named her a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

In his more than 100 opera and theater productions in the United States and abroad, Peter Sellars has illuminated new works as well as classics of world literature in ways that have resonated powerfully with his audiences.

A native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Harvard, Mr. Sellars studied in Japan, China, and India before becoming artistic director of the Boston Shakespeare Company in Massachusetts in 1983. At 26, he was selected to lead the American National Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Since then, Mr. Sellars has worked at theater and opera companies all over the world, and has guided numerous arts festivals including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals; the 2002 Adelaide Festival in Australia; the 2003 Venice Biennale International Festival of Theater; and New Crowned Hope, a 2006 festival in Vienna that celebrated the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.

Mr. Sellars’s visionary opera stagings include Handel’s Theodora at Glyndebourne; Orlando at American Repertory Theatre; Tristan und Isolde at Opéra National de Paris; The Mikado, Tannhäuser, and Handel’s Hercules at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, Vivaldi’s Griselda, and Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Mater and L’amour de loin at Santa Fe Opera; Messiaen’s Saint-François d’Assise and Ligeti’s Le grande macabre at Salzburg; The Tristan Project at Disney Hall in Los Angeles and at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall; Mozart’s Zaide in Vienna, New York, London, and Aix-en-Provence; and the three Mozart-da Ponte operas at Pepsico Summerfare at SUNY Purchase. Mr. Sellars’s collaborations with composer John Adams include the world premieres of Nixon in China at Houston Grand Opera; The Death of Klinghoffer at Opera National de la Monnaie, Brussels; El nino at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; A Flowering Tree in Vienna; and Doctor Atomic at San Francisco Opera. The Metropolitan Opera premiere of Adams’s Nixon in China last season also marked the Met debut of Mr. Sellars.

Mr. Sellars is a professor in the department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among Mr. Sellars’s numerous honors are the MacArthur Prize, the Erasmus Prize, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Mr. Sellars is the first stage director to receive an Opera News Award.

Berlin native Anja Silja made her stage debut at the age of 16 in Braunschweig, as Rosina in The Barber of Seville. Her international reputation was established in 1960, when she made her Bayreuth debut as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, a performance that marked Miss Silja as an artist of fearless dramatic commitment and rare beauty. Miss Silja’s large and uniquely varied repertoire contains Wagner’s Elisabeth, Venus, Eva, Elsa, Isolde, and Brünnhilde; Mozart’s Queen of the Night, Fiordiligi, and Konstanze; Verdi’s Desdemona and Lady Macbeth; Salome and Herodias in Salome; Emilia Marty in Janácek’s The Makropulos Case; Alban Berg’s Lulu, Countess Geschwitz, and Marie; Jenny in Kurt Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny; Carmen; Turandot; Tatyana in Eugene Onegin; Katerina Ismailova in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk; and Cassandre in Les Troyens. Miss Silja has appeared in all the major opera houses of Europe, where her most recent engagements have included Kabanicha in Katya Kabanová at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel at Covent Garden, and The Old Lady in Candide at Staatsoper Berlin. She made her U.S. debut in 1968, as Salome at San Francisco Opera, and she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1972 as Leonore in Fidelio. Other Met appearances for Miss Silja include the title role in Salome, Marie in Wozzeck, Erwartung at Carnegie Hall with James Levine and the Met Orchestra, Pierrot lunaire with the Met Chamber Ensemble, and Kostelnicka in Jenufa.


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