BWW Opera News: Soprano Nadine Sierra Named 2017 Richard Tucker Award Winner

BWW Opera News: Soprano Nadine Sierra Named 2017 Richard Tucker Award Winner
Nadine Sierra, Richard Tucker
Award winner. Photot: Merri Cyr

Soprano Nadine Sierra was named today by the Richard Tucker Music Foundation as the winner of the 2017 Richard Tucker Award. The Tucker Award, often referred to as the "Heisman Trophy of Opera," carries the foundation's most substantial cash prize of $50,000, and is conferred each year by a panel of opera industry professionals on an American singer at the threshold of a major international career.

The list of past winners includes such luminaries as Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, Matthew Polenzani, Christine Goerke and Joyce DiDonato. Sierra will be inducted into this who's who of American opera at the Foundation's annual gala, to be held this year on Sunday, December 10th at Carnegie Hall.

Commenting by phone from Venice, where she is currently preparing to sing the title role in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR at the Teatro La Fenice, Sierra said: "I cannot thank the Richard Tucker Music Foundation enough for this incredible honor and for all the support they've shown me since I first auditioned for a Sara Tucker Study Grant in 2010. I am humbled to receive this award and to follow in the very large footsteps of those who have preceded me."

Barry Tucker, president of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and son of the Brooklyn-born tenor for whom the foundation is named, comments: "We are elated to have Nadine as our 2017 Richard Tucker Award winner. Having known her since she was an undergraduate in college and been in awe of her talents even back then, I could not be more impressed by how she has developed as a singer. She possesses an artistic maturity that is well beyond her years and is destined to be a leading light of the opera world."

BWW Opera News: Soprano Nadine Sierra Named 2017 Richard Tucker Award Winner
Sierra as Ilia in IDOMENEO at the Met.
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Read our exclusive interview with Sierra, "In Met's IDOMENEO, Soprano Nadine Sierra Flies High," which was published during her acclaimed run as Ilia in Mozart's IDOMENEO last month at the Met.

Simultaneous to announcing Sierra's award, the Richard Tucker Foundation--a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great Brooklyn-born tenor by nurturing the careers of talented American opera singers and by bringing opera into the community--revealed this year's recipients of its annual grants, the Richard Tucker Career Grants and Sara Tucker Study Grants. Through awards, grants for study, performance opportunities and other activities, the foundation provides professional development for singers at various stages of their careers.

This year's winners include:

Richard Tucker Career Grants are awards of $10,000 given to young singers who have already gained performance experience in professional companies.

Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone, 27
Brownlee, winner of the Foundation's Sara Tucker Study Grant last year, was the first-prize winner of the 2016 Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition, won the Zarzuela prize at Operalia 2016, and won the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In the 2016-17 season, he made his Met debut as the First Soldier in SALOME, later joining LA Opera for the same opera; he returns there later this month for Tosca.

John Chest, baritone, 31
American baritone John Chest is winner of both the prestigious 2010 Stella Maris International Vocal Competition and the Arleen Auger Prize in the 2012 Hertogenbosch International Vocal Competition. Until September 2016 He was a member of the ensemble at the Deutsche Oper Berlin through September 2016, where he appeared as Billy Budd in a new production by David Alden (role he reprises in the 2016-17 season), among other roles, Future performances include major roles at the Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Real Madrid, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

Anthony Clark Evans, baritone, 32
Earlier this season, rising American baritone Evans made his Metropolitan Opera debut as the Huntsman in Rusalka, while also covering Riccardo in I PURITANI. Among his numerous roles at the Chicago Lyric Opera was creating the role of Simon Thibault in the world premiere of BEL CANTO, from Ann Patchett's novel, by composer Jimmy Lopez and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. An earlier winner of a Sara Tucker Study Grant (2014), he recently completed a two-year tenure at Lyric Opera of Chicago's prestigious Ryan Opera Center, where he was heard in such roles as Montano in OTELLO for his company, Yamadori in MADAMA BUTTERFLY and the Huntsman in RUSALKA.

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Sara Tucker Study Grants are awards of $5,000 given to young singers in the process of transitioning from student to professional singer.

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor, 23
In the 2017-18 season, American countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen looks forward to joining the Houston Grand Opera Studio, as the first countertenor in the Studio's history, where he will sing Nireno in Handel's Giulio Cesare and a Maid in Strauss's Elektra. In his breakout 2016-2017 season, Cohen was a Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, first-prize winner in the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition, and winner of the Irwin Scherzer Award as a finalist in the George London Foundation Competition. In the summer of 2017 he will join Wolf Trap Opera as a Studio Artist.

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Richard Sasanow Richard Sasanow is a long-time writer on art, music, food, travel and international business for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), Town & Country and Travel & Leisure, among many others. He also interviewed some of the great singers of the 20th century for the programs at the San Francisco Opera and San Diego Opera and worked on US tours of the Orchestre National de France and Vienna State Opera, conducted by Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein.