The finalists for the 2019 International Opera Awards have been announced, with a number of Australians nominated in important categories. The annual ceremony celebrates achievement in opera across a wide range of categories, encompassing performance, design, direction, education and outreach. This year’s finalists were chosen by an international jury of 42, chaired by Opera Magazine Editor John Allison and including Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini.

“It’s gratifying that we received a record-breaking number of nominations for this year’s International Opera Awards, and I feel that this excitement is reflected in the shortlists we’re announcing today,” said Allison, “Spanning six continents, these shortlists – chosen by our international jury – reflect the truly cosmopolitan nature of the art form, and the vibrancy of work being done despite challenges faced by opera companies large and small everywhere.”

Unsurprisingly, Australian composer Brett Dean’s hugely successful Hamlet is in the running for Best Recording (Complete Opera), its world premiere at Glyndebourne preserved on DVD thanks to Opus Arte. Following its successful time at Glyndebourne, its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Festival last year won similar acclaim, and it’s now set to open at the Metropolitan Opera in its 2021/22 season. Nicholas Carter, Principal Conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, once again conducts the work after leading the acclaimed performances in Adelaide.

Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne. Photo © Richard Hubert Smith

“Brett Dean’s Hamlet has had the advantage of two outings to date… but for getting your head around the nitty-gritty of the composer’s sound world and the director’s sophisticated dramatic vision nothing quite beats a DVD,” Limelight said in its five-star review. “Dean’s intricate, colourful, occasionally dense orchestrations, come up crystal clear in Opus Arte’s fine-grained sound, while scenes where other characters, and sometimes the chorus, are hurling the protagonist’s lines back at him in dazzling counterpoint are made easier to follow thanks to Film Director François Roussillon’s experienced hand on the visual tiller.”

Hamlet is up against fellow Australian Barrie Kosky’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Bayreuth Festival, captured on DVD by Deutsche Grammophon, and Decca’s Giovanni d’Arco, a 2015 La Scala production of Verdi’s early opera with Anna Netrebko in the title role.

Rounding out the Best Recording (Complete Opera) category are three CDs – Palazzetto Bru Zane’s recording of Halévy’s rarity La Reine de Chypre, Soli Deo Gloria’s recording of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and Opera Rara’s recording of Rossini’s opera seria Semiramide.

Stuart Skelton. Photograph © Sim Canetty-Clarke

Stuart Skelton’s debut album Shining Knight has been nominated for Best Recording (Solo Recital). The ABC Classics release sees the Australian tenor team up with frequent collaborators, conductor Asher Fisch and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, to deliver a stellar collection of Wagner arias, Lieder and songs.

“Although this solo recording from Stuart Skelton is long overdue, it’s entirely worth the wait…The unique qualities of his instrument are all here: the thrilling top, the power to spare, the luxurious timbre,” said Limelight in its review. “Plus he’s in happy, inspired partnership with the brilliant West Australian Symphony Orchestra, led by its marvellous Principal Conductor Asher Fisch. What more could one wish for?”

It’s up against two other debut recordings – Elsa Dreisig’s Miroir(s) on Erato and Anita Rachvelishvili’s self-titled album on Sony. Rounding out the category is Javier Camarena’s Contrabandista on Decca, Max Emanuel Cenčić’s Porpora Arias on Decca and Stéphane Degout’s Enfers on Harmonia Mundi.

Vivica Genaux and David Hansen in Pinchgut Opera’s Artaserse. Photo © Brett Boardman

Pinchgut Opera has also picked up a nomination for its production of Hasse’s Artaserse, in the running for Best Rediscovered Work. Presented in its second, 1740 Dresden version by the company in November, it marked the very first time this particular edition had been recorded, performed or staged since its premiere. Conductor Erin Helyard fielded a strong cast of local and international talent, with American mezzo Vivica Genaux and Australians Andrew Goodwin and David Hansen among the standouts. In its review, Limelight praised Helyard’s ability to draw “extraordinarily limpid sounds from the orchestra, shaping the music with a firm handle on dramatic ebb and flow”, with Genaux described as “[navigating] the florid passagework with enviable ease and musicality.”

The winners will be announced at a gala event at London’s Sadler’s Wells on April 29.


Full list of nominations

CHORUS

Bolshoi Opera
Dutch National Opera
Opéra de Lyon
Royal Opera House
Semperoper Dresden
Teatro alla Scala

CONDUCTOR

Marc Albrecht
Myung-Whun Chung
Diego Fasolis
René Jacobs
Michele Mariotti
Mark Wigglesworth

DESIGNER

Paolo Fantin
Johannes Leiacker
Rebecca Ringst
Katrin Lea Tag
Leslie Travers
Pierre-André Weitz

DIRECTOR

Vasily Barkhatov
Calixto Bieito
Rodula Gaitanou
Katie Mitchell
David Pountney
Krzysztof Warlikowski

EDUCATION & OUTREACH

English Touring Opera
Festival d’Aix-en-Provence
Komische Oper
Opéra de Lyon
Pittsburgh Opera
Umculo Cape Festival

FEMALE SINGER

Anna Caterina Antonacci
Daniela Barcellona
Sabine Devieilhe
Rosa Feola
Asmik Grigorian
Pretty Yende

FESTIVAL

Festival della Valle d’Itria
Garsington Opera
Janáček Brno Festival
Opera Holland Park
Prototype Festival
Ruhrtriennale

MALE SINGER

Charles Castronovo
Alex Esposito
Brandon Jovanovich
John Osborn
Xavier Sabata
Georg Zeppenfeld

NEW PRODUCTION

Barber: Vanessa, d. Keith Warner (Glyndebourne)
Britten: Gloriana, d. David McVicar (Teatro Real)
Janáček: From the House of the Dead, d. Krzysztof Warlikowski (Royal Opera House)
Janáček: Jenůfa, d. Katie Mitchell (Dutch National Opera)
Verdi: La traviata, d. Deborah Warner (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées)
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde, d. Dmitri Tcherniakov (Staatsoper Berlin)

NEWCOMER

Julia Burbach (director)
Maxim Emelyanychev (conductor)
Ben Glassberg (conductor)
Thomas Guggeis (conductor)
Joana Mallwitz (conductor)
Zou Shuang (director)

OPERA COMPANY

Deutsche Oper am Rhein
Gothenburg Opera
Houston Grand Opera
Opéra National de Paris
Opera Vlaanderen
Theater an der Wien

OPERA ORCHESTRA

LA Opera
MusicAeterna
Novaya Opera
Royal Danish Opera
Royal Opera House
Staatsoper Berlin

READERS’ AWARD

Ildar Abdrazakov
Sarah Connolly
Michael Fabiano
Vittorio Grigolo
Thomas Hampson
Barbara Hannigan
Ana María Martínez
Sonya Yoncheva

RECORDING (COMPLETE OPERA)

Dean: Hamlet (Opus Arte)
Halévy: La Reine de Chypre (Palazzetto Bru Zane)
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Soli Deo Gloria)
Rossini: Semiramide (Opera Rara)
Verdi: Giovanna d’Arco (Decca)
Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Deutsche Grammophon)

RECORDING (SOLO RECITAL)

Javier Camarena: Contrabandista (Decca)
Max Emanuel Cencic: Porpora Arias (Decca)
Stéphane Degout: Enfers (Harmonia Mundi)
Elsa Dreisig: Miroir(s) (Erato)
Anita Rachvelishvili: Anita (Sony)
Stuart Skelton: Shining Knight (ABC Classics)

REDISCOVERED WORK

Donizetti: L’Ange de Nisida (Opera Rara)
Goldschmidt: Beatrice Cenci (Bregenz Festival)
Hasse: Artaserse (Pinchgut Opera)
Mascagni: Isabeau (Opera Holland Park)
Paderewski: Manru (Polish National Opera)
Stanford: The Travelling Companion (New Sussex Opera)
Tate: The Lodger (Stadttheater Bremerhaven)
van Gilse: Thijl (Utrecht Student Orchestra)

WORLD PREMIERE

Beecher: Sky on Swings (Opera Philadelphia)
Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence (Royal Opera House)
Debussy/Van Parys: Usher (Staatsoper Berlin)
Kurtág: Fin de partie (Teatro alla Scala)
Langer: Rhondda Rips It Up! (Welsh National Opera)
Larcher: Das Jagdgewehr (Bregenz Festival)
Raskatov: GerMANIA (Opéra de Lyon)
Wainwright: Hadrian (Canadian Opera Company)

YOUNG SINGER

Julien Behr
Benjamin Bernheim
Jodie Devos
Kangmin Justin Kim
Soraya Mafi
Siyabonga Maqungo
Amanda Woodbury
Marina Viotti