International Opera Awards name Diana Damrau and Stuart Skelton best singers

Diana Damrau at the International Opera Awards 2014
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Diana Damrau and Stuart Skelton have won the best female and male singer prizes at this year’s International Opera Awards.

German soprano Damrau said it was a “tremendous honour” to receive her prize, while Australian tenor Skelton thanked the awards organisers saying they were “living proof” that reports of opera’s demise were “surely premature”.

He added: “This is an artform about which everyone in this room is passionate and I urge you to keep that faith – stay angry if you need to - to make this happen because this is an artform worth kicking and screaming for.”

The event, now in its second year, launched in 2013 and was designed to be the first truly international set of prizes in the operatic world, according to its organisers, businessman Harry Hyman and Opera Magazine editor John Allison.

At a ceremony held last night in London, other prizes went to Russian Kirill Petrenko for best conductor and Australian Barrie Kosky for best director.

Meanwhile, British wins included Aldeburgh Festival’s production of Peter Grimes – staged on Aldeburgh Beach last summer – which was named best Benjamin Britten anniversary production. The show beat the Royal Opera and Hamburg State Opera’s co-production of Gloriana and a production of an opera adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Rio de Janeiro.

Welsh stage and costume designer Paul Brown was recognised in the best designer prize, with the judges saying his work was “not only beautiful and striking, but dramaturgically potent”.

Elsewhere, Wexford Festival Opera’s production of Foroni’s Cristina, Regina di Svezia won the award for best rediscovered work.

Belgian opera director and administrator Gerard Mortier, who died last month, was recognised with a lifetime achievement award.

A full list of winners across the 22 categories is available at the International Opera Awards website.