Helpmann Awards revealed at the Sydney Opera House

Cate Blanchett, Evgeny Kissin, operas La Traviata and Moby Dick among the big winners.

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Cate Blanchett on the red carpet
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Kate Blanchett accepting her award for Best Female Actor in a Play (Gross und Klein, Sydney ...
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Fat Swan, aka Trevor Ashley

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The 2012 Helpmann Awards, announced yesterday in a red carpet ceremony at the Sydney Opera House, showcased the highest standards of performance and production Australian arts and entertainment. The star-studded evening featured performances by The Australian Ballet (and, in stark contrast, cabaret star Trevor Ashley as Fat Swan); Lisa McCune, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and their South Pacific castmates; Cirque du Soleil, and a surprise appearance by Hugh Jackman to present the gong for Best Musical, rounding out a year in which underdogs and adventurers got the seal of approval alongside the heavyweights.

In opera, Emma Matthews continued her streak as the most awarded individual in the Helpmanns, for her role in La Traviatanot even the driver of the barge that carried Opera Australia's hulking Swarovski chandelier was forgotten in her acceptance speech for Best Female Performer in an Opera. Her male counterpart was American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey for his brave portrayal of Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Mitchell Butel, Ko-Ko in The Mikado, scooped Best Male Performer in a Musical, adding to a total count of six awards for Opera Australia. But the State Opera of South Australia won out in three categories for its bold production of the contemporary opera by Jake Heggie, Moby Dick: Best Opera, Best Direction of an Opera (Leonard Foglia) and Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role (Grant Doyle).

In musicals, the low-budget, small-scale Grey Gardens was the surprise hit, with Best Female Actor (Pamela Rabe), Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Nancye Hayes) and Best Direction (Roger Hodgman).  But the glitzy A Chorus Line took home top honours and the final award of the evening, Best Musical.

Another relatively low-budget show, Griffin Theatre Company's Angela's Kitchen, was proclaimed Best New Australian Work, with its lead Paul Capsis winning a "Bobby" for Best Male Actor in a Play. Cate Blanchett dedicated the Best Female Actor gong to her son Dashiell in the audience, and thanked her colleague Benedict Andrews (Best Direction of a Play) for his work on Sydney Theatre Company's Gross und Klein.

Russian piano legend Evgeny Kissin won out over glamorous violinist Anne-Sofie Mutter for Best Individual Classical Music Performance for his Australian debut tour with the Sydney Symphony and Brisbane Festival. Accepting his second award of the evening for his Chopin (Best Symphony Orchestral Concert), the principal cellist of the SSO praised his genius, while adding that he is "a rather odd man".

For the full list of 2012 Helpmann Award winners, continue to the following pages. 

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