Oper! Awards Winners Unveiled

By Alan Neilson
Photo: Bjorn Hickmann Stage Picture

For the first time, Germany’s Oper! Awards were hosted outside Berlin, in a ceremony held at Theater Dortmund, to mark its award for Gemany’s best opera house. Clearly proud of its achievement, the theatre pulled out all the stops. Lasting over four hours, the ceremony consisted of 19 awards, taking in achievements from all aspects of the opera world, ranging from staged performances to recordings, from individual excellence to sustainability initiatives undertaken by opera houses. There were short interviews with many of the winners, either on stage or by video link, which moved fluidly between serious and not-so-serious questions. Pierre Audi’s interesting observation that “festivals should be experimental and take on a leading role in how opera houses should develop their repertoire,” for example, contrasted pleasingly with some light-hearted questions to René Jacobs about modern technology, from which we learnt that his wife sorts out anything to do with the computer, although he is able to switch on the television, and that he no longer uses a pen to conduct the orchestra.

There were a number of musical presentations. The evening began with a performance of Eric Ewazen’s “Pastoral for trumpet, trombone and piano,” which was later followed by two beautifully sung interludes. Tenor Jonathan Tetelman sang Giordano’s aria “Amor ti vieta” from his latest CD “Arias,” and baritone Konstantin Krimmel sang “O du, mein holder Abendstern” from Wagner’s “Tannhäuser.” The ceremony was brought to an end with a fabulous performance of John Adams’ “All patriots were brothers once” for chorus and soloists from his opera “Nixon in China,” which is currently on stage at the opera house.

Award Winners For Each Category

Best Orchestra:

The Berliner Philharmoniker.

Awarded for its performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Pique Dame,” conducted by Kirill Petrenko.

Best Chorus:

Slowakischer Philharmonischer Chor.

Also awarded for its performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Pique Dame,” conducted by Kirill Petrenko.

Best Opera Recording:

Palazzetto Bru Zane’s recording of Meyerbeer’s “Robert Le Diable.”

Performed by Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine conducted by Marc Minkowski, with soloists John Osborn, Nicolas Courjal, Amina Edris, Erin Morley, Nico Darmanin, Joel Allison, Paco Garcia.

Outstanding Commitment:

Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv.

Among her achievements, she was the first female conductor to perform at the Bayreuth Opera Festival and the first female chief conductor of an Italian opera orchestra, the Teatro Comunale Bologna. She is also the founder and artistic director of the Youth Symphony of Orchestra of Ukraine.

Best Festival:


Awarded for the outstanding quality and quantity of its productions, in which particular attention was drawn to its staging of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony and the world premiere of Saariaho’s opera “Innocence.”

Best Costume Designer:

Erson Mondtag and Annika Lu.

Awarded for their imaginative, colorful, 1920s, fantasy-inspired designs for Rued Langgaard’s opera “Anti Krist” at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Best Staging:

Ulrich Rasche.

Awarded for his monumental, continually rotating steel design for the Théâtre de Genèva’s production of Strauss’ “Elektra.”

Best Stage Director:

Claus Guth.

Four of his 2022 opera productions were significant in his being chosen for this award: “The Makropulos Case” at the Berlin Staatsoper, “Bluthaus” at the Bayerische Staatsoper, “Il Viaggio di Dante” at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and “Don Carlo” at Naples’ Teatro di San Carlo.

Best Opera Performance:

Penderecki’s “The Devils of Loudon.”

Conducted by Vladimir Jurowski and directed by Simon Stone for the Bayerische Staatsoper.

Best Comeback:

Opera Bonn’s FOKUS 33.

The ongoing project explores and performs works that have disappeared from the repertoire since 1933. Among others, it includes works by Meyerbeer, Schoenburg and Weill.

Sustainability Initiative:

Awarded jointly to Musictheater im Revier Gelsenkirken and Theater Regensburg. 

Best Newcomer:

Baritone Konstantin Krimmel. 

Best Conductor:

Gianandrea Noseda.

Awarded for his work on Opera Zurich’s production of “Der Ring.” The jury were particularly impressed by the detail, textures and bel canto quality he managed to elicit from the orchestra, which is notably smaller than the orchestras of the big opera houses associated with performances of Wagner’s tetralogy.

Best Solo Album:

Jonathan Tetelman’s “Arias.”

Contains arias by Ponchielli, Verdi, Bizet and Giordano, although nothing by his favorite composer, Puccini, whose arias, he informed the audience, will be the subject of his next album.

Best World Premiere:

Manfred Trojhan’s “Euydice, Die Liebenden, Blind.”

A retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth for the Dutch National Opera.

Best Opera House:

Dortmund Oper.

The Intendant, Heribert Germeshausen, proudly received the award from the judges who were impressed by the house’s clever repertoire, especially its Wagner corpus and its outreach program aimed at attracting new audiences.

Best Female Singer:

Lisette Oropesa.

Best Male Singer:

Michael Voller.

Lifetime Achievement:

Rene Jacobs.

Awarded for his many brilliant recordings and staged performances both as a singer and as a conductor.