Experience wins out over youth, but it’s slim pickings for opera Down Under.

Italian soprano Mariella Devia and American tenor Gergory Kunde have won Best Female and Best Male Singer repsectively at the 2016 International Opera Awards. The winners were announced at a ceremony hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Petroc Trelawny at London’s Savoy Theatre. Australian Heldentenor Stuart Skelton, who won the prestigious Male Singer category in 2014, performed In Fernem Land from Wagner’s Lohengrin at the ceremony.

Stuart Skelton

Experience seemed to count over youth in the high-profile categories. Devia, notable for her bel canto roles, won the Female Singer category (in which Anna Netrebko had also been nominated) while Kunde won Best Male Singer. German mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Glyndebourne took out the Festival category and Dutch National Opera won Best Opera Company. French director Laurent Pelly won the Director category and opera streaming website The Opera Platform won the Accessibility award.

In contrast to the 2014 Awards, when Skelton, Barrie Kosky and Simone Young were all honoured, 2016 has been a far less exciting year for Australian artists. Despite the presence of Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini on the expert panel, no Aussies made it to the list of winners. Two contemporary Australian works had received nominations this year. Brett Dean’s Bliss was nominated in the CD (Complete Opera) category, in its release by ABC Classics, but was beaten to the post by Opera Rara’s recording of Donizetti’s Les Martyrs, featuring Joyce El-Khoury and Michael Spyres. The other Australian work to get a nod was Kate Miller-Heidke’s The Rabbits, nominated in the World Premiere category. The winner of this category, however, was Cold Mountain, an operatic adaption of Charles Frazier’s novel of the same name, by American composer and Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon.

The Winners

The Opera Platform

CD Complete Opera
Les Martyrs (Opera Rara)

CD Operatic Recital
Ann Hallenberg: Agrippina (DHM)

English National Opera

Gianandrea Noseda

Vicki Mortimer

Laurent Pelly

The Tsar’s Bride (Bel Air) 

Female Singer
Mariella Devia


Lifetime Achievement
Brigitte Fassbaender

Male Singer
Gregory Kunde 

New Production
Peter Grimes (Theater an der Wien)

Opera Company
Dutch National Opera

Bill & Judy Bollinger
Christine Collins  

Rediscovered Work
Le Roi Carotte (Opéra de Lyon) 

World Premiere
Cold Mountain (Santa Fe Opera)

Young Conductor
Giacomo Sagripanti 

Young Director
Fabio Ceresa 

Young Female Singer
Asmik Grigorian

Young Male Singer
Stanislas de Barbeyrac 

Readers’ Award Winner
Ermonela Jaho