MCANA Announces Winner of 2023 Best Opera Award

By David Salazar

The Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA) has announced that composer Nicole Lizée and librettist Nicolas Billon have been awarded the prestigious 2023 Best New Opera Award for their work, “R.U.R. A Torrent of Light.”

The opera, introduced in North America during the previous calendar year, premiered on May 28, 2022, at the Great Hall at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) University in Toronto.

“R.U.R. A Torrent of Light,” created by Toronto-based Tapestry Opera in collaboration with OCAD University, explores the intricate relationship between humans and technology in a futuristic world where artificial intelligence prevails. The opera draws inspiration from Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots, which introduced the term “robot” to the English language. The narrative revolves around two tech company founders and their differing views on handling their android creations.

“For ‘R.U.R. A Torrent of Light’ to be recognized with this prestigious award from MCANA is truly an honor,” said Lizée in an official press statement. “When Nicolas and I began our collaboration those many years ago, I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be awarded North America’s best new opera. Nic and I would like to extend our deepest thanks and gratitude to Michael Mori, Tapestry Opera, and the incredible performers and creative team we had the pleasure of working with.”

The Best New Opera Award, determined by an Awards Committee comprised of distinguished music critics, aligns with MCANA’s mission to recognize remarkable achievements and promote the vibrancy of musical life in the United States and Canada. Past winners include Missy Mazzoli (composer) and Royce Vavrek (librettist) for “Breaking the Waves;” the 2018 Award went to composer-librettist David Hertzberg for “The Wake World;” the 2019 Award went to Ellen Reid (composer) and Roxy Perkins (librettist) for “P R I S M;” the 2020 Award went to Jeanine Tesori (composer) and Tazewell Thompson (librettist) for “Blue;” the 2021 Award went to Raven Chacon (composer), Du Yun (composer), Aja Couchois Duncan (librettist), and Douglas Kearney (librettist) for “Sweet Land.”