The editors of Opera News have announced the honorees for the 2012 Opera News Awards, paying tribute to five superb artists who have made an invaluable contribution to the art form: sopranos Mirella Freni and Dawn Upshaw, countertenor David Daniels, baritone Simon Keenlyside, and bass-baritone Eric Owens. The eighth annual Opera News Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 21 at The Plaza in New York City. All the winners – and a host of the city's cultural, civic, and social luminaries – will be present at the gala awards dinner, which will feature celebrity presenters speaking about the awardees and introducing video performance clips.
The official announcement of this year's honorees appears in the September 2012 issue of Opera News, which is available on August 6 and has Piotr Beczala on the cover. The Polish tenor performs this season at the Metropolitan Opera in Gounod's Faust – his company role debut as the opera's title character – and in a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto. The September issue also offers the magazine's annual preview of the year in opera. The April 2012 issue of Opera News will contain tributes to the five awardees, all distinguished members of the international opera community.
Created in 2005, the Opera News Awards recognize five individuals each year for distinguished achievement in the field of opera. Proceeds from the gala evening on April 21 will benefit the education programs of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
For the third consecutive season, the Opera News Awards includes a special sweepstakes that will give a lucky winner round-trip air transportation for two to New York, provided by American Airlines, as well as a two-night stay at Trump International Hotel and Tower and VIP tickets to the Opera News Awards. No purchase is necessary to enter the sweepstakes; details are available at www.operanews.com/onawards and in the September issue.
The editors of the Metropolitan Opera Guild's Opera News have offered brief pre-publication accolades to this year's award recipients. Online Editor Adam Wasserman salutes Mr. Daniels:
"David Daniels has established himself as more than a superbly elegant singer and an incisive actor; he is a trailblazer, who has redefined the emotional and musical range achievable by the male voice for both opera audiences and his fellow singers."
Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll pays tribute to Ms. Freni:
"Mirella Freni's beauty, charm and poise – and the unfailing loveliness of her voice – made her one of opera's most beloved sopranos during an active singing career of more than fifty years. She remains prima donna assoluta in the hearts of opera lovers everywhere."
Features Editor Brian Kellow applauds Mr. Keenlyside:
"Simon Keenlyside seems incapable of making a false move onstage. Not only does he have one of the most expressive baritone voices I've ever heard, he always seems to be completely in the moment dramatically. His work is never flashy, but it has an inner fire that few performers can match."
Managing Editor Oussama Zahr extols the gifts of Mr. Owens:
"Bass-baritone Eric Owens has a soulful, capacious voice that he uses to imbue some of opera's most mysterious and villainous characters with startling humanity. Everything he sings glows with his integrity as an artist."