Australian soprano and rising international star Lauren Fagan has received the prestigious Dame Heather Begg Memorial Award. A $25,000 grant to support the artistic development of an emerging Australian or New Zealand opera singer, it was named for and established in 2013 by the late New Zealand mezzo’s estate, and is administered by the Melba Opera Trust. Previous recipients include inaugural winner and baritone Samuel Dundas, soprano Janet Todd, soprano Amina Edris, bass-baritone Jeremy Kleeman and mezzo Emily Edmonds.

Lauren Fagan. Photo © Victoria Cadisch

Fagan has described the Award as extremely generous, emphasising its crucial role in supporting early career singers. “The thing about this award is you don’t put yourself forward so it came as a complete and very welcome surprise,” she said.

The Award is the latest honour for the soprano, who was recently nominated ‘Young Singer’ of the year in 2018’s International Opera Awards. Her role debut as Violetta for the UK’s Opera Holland Park in May saw her win critical acclaim, with The Guardian writing “Fagan, one of today’s finest young sopranos, is exceptional throughout and a superb actor.” As Donna Anna for OHP in 2017, Limelight praised her for being “in excellent voice… the voice is capable of strong steely tones but turns in a second to give real warmth when needed. The various emotional demands of the score are beautifully encompassed in a moving performance.”

Lauren Fagan as Violetta in Opera Holland Park’s La Traviata. Photo © Robert Workman

Fagan was awarded the Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship in 2011 and 2012, and is a graduate of London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. From 2014 to 2016, the soprano was a member of the Royal Opera House’s prestigious Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. She made her ROH debut as a principal artist in the role of Woglinde in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung last September under the baton of Sir Antonio Pappano.