OPERA NEWS EDITOR IN CHIEF F. PAUL DRISCOLL today announced the recipients of the 14th Annual OPERA NEWS Awards. This year’s honorees—mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias, stage director and designer Laurent Pelly, soprano Ailyn Pérez, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni and tenor Ramón Vargas—will be feted at a black-tie gala on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. A musical tribute will also be performed in honor of the recipients.

“Since the Awards’ inception in 2005, OPERA NEWS looks forward to recognizing outstanding men and women in the world of opera,” said Driscoll. “These five artists have transformed the way audiences experience opera and have left an everlasting impact on this essential and ever-evolving art form.”

2019 OPERA NEWS Award Recipients

Rosalind Elias: A native of Lowell, MA, the mezzo-soprano made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1954, as Grimgerde in Die Walküre. In her 687 performances with the Met in New York and on tour, Elias sang fifty-five roles, from the title characters of Carmen and Der Rosenkavalier to Dorabella, Zerlina, Cherubino and Charlotte in Werther. She created the role of Erika in the Met’s world premiere of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa and was Charmian in the first performances of Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, the opera that inaugurated the Met’s theater at Lincoln Center, in 1966. Elias has appeared frequently in concert, on television and on recording, and in 2011 made her Broadway debut, as Heidi Schiller in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll writes: “Mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias’s beautiful voice, generous spirit and unequaled dramatic acumen brought glory to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera for more than forty years.  Rosalind Elias sang everything with genuine distinction and surpassing grace: she was a committed, adventurous interpreter of new works and a noble exponent of the classic standard repertory roles.  Rosalind Elias’s repertoire extended from Verdi and Mozart to Leonard Bernstein, Noël Coward and Stephen Sondheim.  She is a great American singer who remains an inspiration to her colleagues, her audience and her friends.”

Laurent Pelly: Born in Paris and recognized as one of the most innovative theater directors in France when he was still in his teens, Pelly’s opera productions for Opéra de Lyon and Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris brought him international attention. His witty, imaginatively designed stagings of Orphée aux EnfersLa Belle Hélène, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and La Vie Parisienne returned the works of Jacques Offenbach to France in glory.  Audiences have applauded Pelly’s genius as director and designer in London, Vienna, Santa Fe, Glyndebourne, Philadelphia, Brussels, Milan, and New York. Pelly made his Met debut in 2008, with his staging of La Fille du Régiment, which returns to the Met this season. Pelly’s other productions this season include Candide in Santa Fe, Lucia di Lammermoor in Philadelphia, Les Contes d’Hoffmann at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Falstaff in Madrid.

Assistant Editor Eloise Giegerich pays tribute: “Director/designer Laurent Pelly’s stagings are defined by their nuance, color and striking wit.  Audiences across the opera world have had the privilege of encountering this brilliant French artist’s singularly stylish, smart productions, from his shimmering Cendrillon at Santa Fe Opera, Covent Garden and the Met, to this fall’s searing Lucia di Lammermoor at Opera Philadelphia. This season, the Met welcomes back Pelly’s magic, manic realization of La Fille du Régiment.”

Ailyn Pérez: The soprano made her Met debut in 2015 and is now one of the most popular and most admired artists on the company’s roster. Perez’s Met roles already include both Mimì and Musetta in La Bohème, Micaëla in Carmen, Juliette, Countess Almaviva and the title role in Thaïs; this season she adds Alice Ford in Falstaff to the list.  Pérez’s other engagements in 2018–19 include Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani at La Scala; Donna Anna in Houston Grand Opera’s new Don Giovanni; a return to Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper for Violetta in La Traviata, one of her signature roles; and Micaëla in Carmen at Covent Garden.  A graduate of Indiana University and Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, Pérez was born in Chicago and raised in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The winner of the 2012 Richard Tucker Award and the 2016 Beverly Sills Artist Award, Pérez made her debut as a host for The Met: Live in HD transmission of Roméo et Juliette in 2017.

Deputy Editor Henry Stewart offers: “Ailyn Pérez’s creamy soprano elevates standard-rep operas as well as new works. But she’s beloved by fans for much more, from her sensitive acting to her nonprofit work with at-risk kids. Pérez’s offstage savvy has helped her bring opera into the twenty-first century—in just a few years, she has established herself as one of her generation’s biggest stars.”

Luca Pisaroni: The bass-baritone was born in Venezuela and raised in Italy. He made his Met debut in 2005, as Publio in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito. Pisaroni’s other roles in New York include Leporello, Count Almaviva, Mozart’s Figaro, Alidoro in La Cenerentola. Giorgio in I Puritani and Caliban in the Met’s world premiere of The Enchanted Island. Pisaroni has appeared at all of the world’s major opera houses. This season, Pisaroni sings his first performances of the title role in Don Giovanni at the Met; makes his role debut as the four Hoffmann villains at Baden-Baden; creates the leading role in The Phoenix, a new opera about Lorenzo DaPonte, at Houston Grand Opera; makes his company debut at the Liceu in Barcelona as Mustafà in L’Italiana in Algeri; and makes his role debut as Escamillo in Carmen at Covent Garden.

Digital Editor Adam Wasserman observes: “Luca Pisaroni is a rare singing actor whose characterizations are at once timeless and enlivened by a familiar, modern spirit, whether he is singing Mozart, Rossini, Bellini or the Baroque pastiche of The Enchanted Island. Luca Pisarioni’s commitment to vocal beauty and his passion for dramatic truth make him one of the most compelling singers on the stage today.”

Ramón Vargas: The tenor, a native of Mexico, made his Met debut in 1992, as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor. He has since returned to the Met as Rodolfo in La Bohème, the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola, Alfredo in La Traviata, Nemorino, Roméo, Nemorino, Lensky in Eugene Onegin, Hoffmann in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Mozart’s Tito and the Fausts of both Berlioz and Gounod, among other roles. In 2010, Vargas was Foresto in the Met’s first performances of Verdi’s Attila.  This season, Vargas’s calendar includes engagements as Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera in Vienna, Hamburg and Geneva, the title role in Verdi’s Don Carlo in Los Angeles and Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra at Greek National Opera in Athens.

Senior Editor Louise T. Guinther says: “Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas has represented the epitome of musical elegance and stylistic authority throughout his thirty-five-year career. His unfailingly idiomatic singing and technical finesse make Mr. Vargas the darling of connoisseurs, while his ravishing timbre and quiet charisma give him an immediate visceral appeal.”

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