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International Opera Awards launched

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Details of a new awards initiative for opera have been announced, with the inaugural prize-giving ceremony to be held in London on April 22.

The International Opera Awards have been conceived by businessman Harry Hyman as “the first truly international set of prizes in the operatic world” and are being supported by Opera magazine.

The move follows the formation of The Opera Awards Foundation by Hyman and Opera’s editor John Allison in 2012, which will provide bursaries for the recipient of the Young Singer award.

Allison said: “Driven by the feeling that true excellence in opera is seldom celebrated enough and that new and emerging artists need all the support they can get, The Operas (as we hope they will come to be known) will address both these needs while bringing together leading members of the ‘industry’ and its supporters”.

The awards will have 22 categories and besides excellence in performance – both live and recorded – will also recognise philanthropists and sponsors and audience development initiatives.

British artists and companies nominated this year include the London-based Streetwise Opera, which works with the homeless, and Welsh National Opera pitted agaist the Metropolitan Opera and the Teatro Sociale di Como in the accessibility category. Festival Opera award contenders include the summer seasons in Wexford and Garsington, wile baritone Bryn Terfel and mezzo Sarah Connolly are nominated in the male and female singer categories.

Opera North’s Norma will compete for the new production award with rivals in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. Former Littlewoods chairman Sir Peter Moores is the sole British nominee in the philanthropist/sponsor category and faces competition from three multi-national companies.

More than 1,500 nominations from 41 countries were received for the awards, with eventual winners decided upon by a panel of experts with readers of Opera magazine also able to vote for a readers’ award.

Organisers say they hope the event will be held on an annual basis.