18 December 2013

Joyce DiDonato and David Hyde Pierce to Host Ninth Annual Opera News Awards

Luca Pisaroni, Susan Graham, Renata Scotto, Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Francesca Zambello to Pay Tribute to Winners

Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce will serve as co-hosts of the Ninth Annual OPERA NEWS Awards, set to take place on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel in New York City. They will be joined by a distinguished line-up of presenters — Luca Pisaroni, Susan Graham, Renata Scotto, Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Francesca Zambello — who will pay tribute to five superb artists who have made an invaluable contribution to the art form: the late director Patrice Chéreau, tenor Juan Diego Flórez, mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, bass-baritone James Morris, and soprano Nina Stemme. First introduced in 2005, the OPERA NEWS Awards gala dinner, which features the hosts and presenters speaking about the awardees and introducing video performance clips, has become one of the most anticipated opera events of the season: an evening of celebration, appreciation, reuniting and celebrity-spotting that is without parallel in the industry.

Described by OPERA NEWS as "elegant, unaffected, and enchanting," mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has won a world-wide following for her incomparable performances of Rossini, Handel, and Mozart roles, as well as her dedication to new music. She has brought her flexible, powerfully expressive voice, impeccable vocal technique, and dramatic intensity to the Metropolitan Opera premieres of Le Comte Ory and Maria Stuarda, as well as the Met's world premiere of The Enchanted Island. DiDonato returns to the company this spring for performances of Rossini's La Cenerentola, which will be transmitted live to movie theaters in sixty-four countries on May 10 as part of The Met: Live in HD series. DiDonato will also host the Met's Live in HD transmission of La Bohème on April 5.

Honors bestowed on DiDonato include a 2009 OPERA NEWS Award, Musical America's 2013 "Vocalist of the Year," the Beverly Sills award from the Metropolitan Opera, the 2002 Richard Tucker Foundation Award and a 2012 Grammy Award for her Virgin Classics album "Diva Divo." She is also an avid photographer and active blogger.

Perhaps best known for his multiple Emmy-winning work as Dr. Niles Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier, David Hyde Pierce has had wide-ranging success in television, film and theater roles. Pierce's performance in Curtains on Broadway won him a Tony Award in 2007, and he earned another Tony nomination for his role in Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013. Pierce, who directed the Barbara Anselmi and Brian Hargrove musical It Shoulda Been You at George Street Playhouse, as well as The Importance of Being Earnest at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, will next direct Vanya at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles from January 29 through March 9, 2014. Pierce discusses his love of opera in the January 2014 issue of OPERA NEWS, where he is featured as a "Listener of Note."

OPERA NEWS's Editor-in-Chief F. Paul Driscoll comments: "We're thrilled that this year's OPERA NEWS Awards will be hosted by Joyce DiDonato and David Hyde Pierce. Joyce has been an OPERA NEWS Award-winner and presenter, and is, quite simply, one of the world's greatest singers. She is also one of the art form's most passionate advocates. David Hyde Pierce is a trained pianist as well as a superlative actor. He is also an opera lover. It will be a privilege to share this event with both of them."

This year's gala will have a special though bittersweet poignancy: Eva Wagner-Pasquier, whose father invited Patrice Chéreau to mount the revolutionary and now-legendary centenary production of Wagner's Ring Cycle at Bayreuth in 1976, will offer a special appreciation of Chéreau, who died in October just weeks after it was announced that he had won the Award. Admired for his work in film — both as a director and as an actor — as well and in theater and opera, Chéreau made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 with a production of Janácek's From the House of the Dead, which was also seen in Vienna, Milan, and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Chéreau's staging of Richard Strauss's Elektra was the smash hit of the 2013 Aix Festival, and will be seen in spring 2014 at La Scala. A co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, the Chéreau Elektra will also bow in New York in a future season.

Turning to the other presenters, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, who performs with DiDonato at the Metropolitan Opera this spring, will present the Award to tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who appears in that same upcoming production of Rossini's La Cenerentola. Beloved American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, herself an OPERA NEWS Award-winner, will present the award to German mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, one of her greatest inspirations. Legendary Italian soprano Renata Scotto, a previous OPERA NEWS Award-winner who has created some of the most touchingly funny moments at past galas, will present the award to bass-baritone James Morris, a justly revered Wagnerian singer who also appeared with Scotto in Italian works. Opera and theater director Francesca Zambello, who currently heads Glimmerglass Opera and the Washington National Opera, will present the award to Nina Stemme; Zambello directed the Swedish soprano in the San Francisco Opera production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, in which Stemme triumphed as Brünnhilde. spacer

More information on the Ninth Annual OPERA NEWS Awards can be found at the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

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