Richard Tucker Music Foundation Announces 2022 Award Winner And Grant Recipients

Soprano Angel Blue named recipient of 2022 Richard Tucker Award.

By: May. 06, 2022
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Richard Tucker Music Foundation Announces 2022 Award Winner And Grant Recipients

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation today announces the 2022 recipients of its prestigious Richard Tucker Award, Richard Tucker Career Grant, and Sara Tucker Study Grant.

Soprano Angel Blue has been named the winner of the 2022 Richard Tucker Award. The award is bestowed upon an artist poised at the edge of a major international career and comes with a $50,000 cash prize, as well as the ongoing support of the Tucker family and foundation. It is hoped that the award acts as a well-timed catalyst to elevate the selected artist's career to even greater heights. The Richard Tucker Award is selected by conferral, rather than audition.

A California native, Blue began her career as a member of the Young Artists Program at the LA Opera, at which she made her US operatic debut as Musetta in La bohème before going on to have a successful international career, singing at major opera houses all over the world. Blue starred as Destiny/Loneliness/Greta in the Metropolitan Opera's historic 2021-22 season opener of Fire Shut Up In My Bones, the first production at the Met Opera by a Black composer, Terence Blanchard. Her recent and upcoming engagements include performances at the Met, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, and with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In addition to receiving this year's distinguished Richard Tucker Award, Blue was the 2020 recipient of the Met's prestigious Beverly Sills Artist Award.

"I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this immense recognition," Angel Blue says. "So many of my professional role models have been recognized as Richard Tucker Award winners, and to join this incredible roster of artists is a true honor. I want to thank the Richard Tucker Foundation, and to congratulate the Career and Study Grant recipients."

Past winners of the Richard Tucker Award include Jamie Barton, Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Isabel Leonard, Lisette Oropesa, Matthew Polenzani, Nadine Sierra, and Deborah Voigt.

Soprano Leah Hawkins, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, and baritone Sean Michael Plumb have been selected recipients of the 2022 Richard Tucker Career Grant. Recipients receive unrestricted grants of $10,000 each. Nussbaum Cohen previously received a 2017 Sara Tucker Study Grant and Plumb previously received a 2015 Sara Tucker Study Grant.

Past Career Grant recipients include Benjamin Bliss, J'Nai Bridges, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Ryan Speedo Green, Samantha Hankey, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Quinn Kelsey, Will Liverman, Erin Morley, Susanna Phililips, and Rachel Willis-Sørensen.

Soprano Katerina Burton, baritone Blake Denson, bass Stefan Egerstrom, tenor Jonah Hoskins, soprano Brittany Logan, baritone Luke Sutliff, and soprano Elena Villalón have been selected recipients of the 2022 Sara Tucker Study Grant. Recipients receive unrestricted grants of $5,000 each. Study Grant recipients typically are in the transition from student to professional singer, and should have recently completed a graduate degree program or work in a young artist or Apprentice program at a regional company.

Past Study Grant Recipients include Eric Ferring, John Holiday, Laquita Mitchell, Amanda Majeski, Miles Mykkanen, and Andrew Stenson.

Singers (U.S. born or naturalized citizens by age 18) were invited to audition for Career and Study Grants via nomination; there is no application process. Study and Career Grant nominees auditioned at the 92nd Street Y's Kaufmann Hall on Monday, May 2 and Tuesday, May 3, 2022, respectively. The auditions, which take place annually in New York City (postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19), were free and open to the public.

2022 audition panelists included: baritone Sherrill Milnes, Vice President of the Richard Tucker Foundation; Rosetta Cucchi, Artistic Director of Wexford Festival Opera; Khori Dastoor, General Director and CEO of Houston Grand Opera; Priti Gandhi, Artistic Director of Portland Opera; Michael Heaston, Artistic Assistant General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera; Erik Malmquist, Head of Casting at Bayerische Staatsoper; tenor George Shirley; Carrie Ann Matheson, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Opera Center; Andreas Melinat, Vice President of Artistic Planning at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; tenor Neil Shicoff; and Nino Sanikidze, Head Coach of the Domingo-Coburn Young Artist Program at LA Opera.

After Richard Tucker's untimely death in 1975, his duo partner and friend Robert Merrill worked with the Tucker family to organize a gathering of opera legends, including Martina Arroyo and Roberta Peters, to take place on what would have been the duo's next date at Carnegie Hall. The Richard Tucker Music Foundation was formed later that year, and the concert became an annual tradition, raising funds to support young American opera singers and keep the beloved tenor's memory alive. For more than four decades, the foundation's annual concert has brought together some of opera's most illustrious stars, including Leonard Bernstein, Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price, and Joan Sutherland.

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great Brooklyn-born tenor by nurturing the careers of talented young American opera singers. Through awards, grants for study, performance opportunities, and other activities, the foundation provides professional development for singers at various stages of their careers. It also offers free performances in the New York metropolitan area, and supports music education enrichment programs. Each year, the foundation confers its most prestigious prize, the Richard Tucker Award (often referred to as the "Heisman Trophy of Opera"), on an artist poised at the edge of a major international career.

Angel Blue has emerged in recent seasons as one of the most important sopranos before the public today. On September 23, 2019, she opened the Metropolitan Opera's 2019/2020 season as Bess in a new production of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. She reprised this role at the Met in Fall 2021, which immediately followed her triumphant role debut as Destiny/Loneliness/Greta in the Met's historic 2021/22 season opener of Fire Shut Up In My Bones, the first production at the Metropolitan Opera by a Black composer. Additionally, she was the 2020 recipient of the Met's prestigious Beverly Sills Award. She has also been praised for performances in nearly every major opera house in the world, including Teatro alla Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, Semperoper Dresden, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Theater an der Wien, Oper Frankfurt, and San Diego Opera.

The current season includes a wide range of repertoire which highlights her immense versatility and virtuosity on operatic and concert stages internationally. Following her return to the Metropolitan Opera with back-to-back productions, Angel Blue will appear in La Traviata at Covent Garden and Arena di Verona, and in early summer 2022, she sings the role of Marguerite in Faust at Paris Opera. Highlights of Ms. Blue's recital and concert engagements include four performances of Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, including one night at Carnegie Hall; and, she appears with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fabio Luisi performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. She also gives recitals in Gstaad, Washington University in St. Louis, Cal Performances in Berkeley, and further engagements with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Saratoga, Edinburgh, and Hamburg.

Puccini's La Boheme has played an especially prominent role in the development of Angel Blue's career. She made her United States operatic debut as Musetta at the Los Angeles Opera in 2007 while a member of the company's Young Artist Program and subsequently made her debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in the same role. As Mimi, she has won special international acclaim. Ms. Blue first sang the role at the English National Opera in London in 2014 and has since sung Mimi for her debuts at the Palau de Les Arts in Valencia in 2015, at the Vienna State Opera in 2016, and with the Canadian Opera Company in 2019. Mimi was also the role of her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2017, and it is as Mimi that she debuted at the Hamburg State Opera in the 2019/20 season. In Germany, she has already been heard as Mimi at the Semperoper Dresden. Other recent operatic engagements have included her debuts as Liu in Turandot at the San Diego Opera in 2018, as Marguerite in Faust at the Portland Opera in 2018 and as Bess in Porgy and Bess in Seattle in the same year. She debuted in Baden Baden as Elena in Mefistofele in 2016 and sang her first Violetta in La Traviata at the Seattle Opera in 2017, a role she also sang in the 2018/19 season for her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and her return to the Teatro alla Scala. She became the first African-American to receive the Beverly Sills Award from the Metropolitan Opera in 2020.

Also active on the concert platform, Ms. Blue has appeared in recital and in concert in over thirty-five countries. Important orchestral engagements have included Porgy and Bess at the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle and with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Marin Alsop, Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the Münchener Philharmoniker under the baton of Zubin Mehta, and Verdi's Requiem in Sydney, Australia with Oleg Caetani. She has also sung Strauss's Vier Letzte Lieder and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Peri in Schumann's Das Paradis und die Peri with the Accademia Santa Cecilla in Rome, conducted by Daniele Gatti, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Cincinnati Symphony under Music Director Louis Langree. Ms. Blue debuted in recital at the Ravinia Festival in August of 2019, after which she joined many of her international colleagues at the 2019 Richard Tucker Gala at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Angel Blue was born and raised in California and completed her musical studies at UCLA. She was a member of the Young Artists Program at the Los Angeles Opera, after which she moved to Europe to begin her international career at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Spain in 2009 and at the Verbier Festival in 2010. She subsequently appeared at the Theater an der Wien in The Rape of Lucretia (female chorus) and as Giulietta in Les Contes d'Hoffmann in a production created by Oscar-award-winning director William Friedkin. Blue also debuted in Frankfurt as the 3rd Norn in Götterdämmerung and returned to the United States as Clara in Porgy and Bess at the Seattle Opera in 2011. She also appeared as Micaela in Carmen with the Israeli Philharmonic and in Verdi's Requiem with the Cincinnati Symphony under the late Raphael Frubeck de Burgos.

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A native of Philadelphia, soprano Leah Hawkins, 31, began the season as Desdemona in 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at the Opéra national de Paris, and returned to the Metropolitan Opera for Fire Shut Up In My Bones and Porgy and Bess. Later this season she will make her debut with Des Moines Metro Opera as Serena in Porgy and Bess, as the Foreign Princess in Rusalka for Pittsburgh Opera, Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos for Arizona Opera, Musetta in La bohème at the Met, and Tosca in Santa Fe. A recent alumna of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera, she has appeared at the Met as the Strawberry Woman in Porgy and Bess, Masha in The Queen of Spades, the Priestess in Aida and an Alms Collector in Suor Angelica. Ms. Hawkins is an alumna of the Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera and her festival credits include The Martina Arroyo Foundation, Houston Grand Opera's Young Artist Vocal Academy (YAVA), Central City Opera, The Chautauqua Opera Company and The Glimmerglass Festival. She is a 2018 Sullivan Foundation Award Winner, and the 2018 recipient of The Richard F. Gold Career Grant from Washington National Opera. Leah received her Master of Music in Voice from Yale University and Bachelor of Arts in Music from Morgan State University. Learn more at

Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, 28, a winner of a 2017 Sara Tucker Study Grant, trained in the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and San Francisco Opera Merola and Adler Fellowship Programs. His broad repertoire spans from pillars of the Baroque - Bach, Cavalli, Handel, Gluck, Monteverdi, and Vivaldi - through to leading modern composers - including Britten, Dove, Dean, and Glass. His recent and upcoming engagements include performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Opernhaus Zürich, Komische Oper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, the Glyndebourne Festival, Adelaide Festival (Australia), San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Dutch Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, San Francisco Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Ballet, Theater an der Wien, and many others. His first commercial recording - Kenneth Fuchs' Poems of Life with the London Symphony Orchestra - won a 2019 GRAMMY Award in the Best Classical Compendium category, which honors albums with multiple soloists and multiple works. He has been recognized with awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Plácido Domingo's Operalia, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, Sullivan Foundation, George London Foundation, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Aryeh earned a Bachelor's degree in History from Princeton University and received academic certificates in Vocal Performance and Judaic Studies. Learn more at

Baritone Sean Michael Plumb, 30, a 2015 Sara Tucker Study Grant winner, is currently a member of the Ensemble of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. During the 2021-22 season, he returned for productions of Die Zauberflöte, The Nose, Der Freischütz, and Die Teufel von Loudun and recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos. Performance highlights during his tenure in the Munich ensemble thus far include Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dandini in La cenerentola, Schaunard in La bohème, Prosdocimo in Il turco in Italia, Marco in Gianni Schicchi, and Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos. The California native was a member of the Salzburg Festival's Young Singers Project in 2016 and a young artist at The Glimmerglass Festival, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and the Aspen Music Festival. He has garnered a multitude of awards for his singing including the Grand Prize of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Top Prize at the 2016 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, a 2016 Shoshana Foundation Grant, the 2015 Sullivan Foundation Award from The Sullivan Foundation, Top Prize at the 2015 Opera Index Competition, First Prize at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Liederkranz Competition, and the 2015 Theodor Uppman Prize from the George London Foundation. Sean Michael Plumb graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. Learn more at

Soprano Katerina Burton, 27, is currently a Cafritz Young Artist with Washington National Opera, where she will make her role debut this spring as Micaëla in Bizet's Carmen. She recently made her debut with the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda, singing solos in both Bach's Magnificat and Mahler's Symphony No. 4. She looks forward to yet another significant debut as the soprano soloist of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop. This summer, she will join Aspen Music Festival as a Renee Fleming Artist where she will take on the lead role of Alice Ford in Verdi's Falstaff. In the 2019/2020 season, Burton originated the roles of Verna, Young Lovely, and Evelyn in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up In My Bones as a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Burton completed her graduate studies at The Juilliard School and holds a Bachelor's degree in vocal performance from Towson University. Learn more at

Baritone Blake Denson, 26, is currently a Studio Artist at the Houston Grand Opera where this season his roles roles include Peter in Hansel und Gretel, the Soloist in Giving Voice, the Soloist in Suite Español, and Daddy/Tim in the world premiere of The Snowy Day. This season he will also make his company debut with Des Moines Metro Opera singing Jake in Porgy and Bess. In the upcoming season, Mr. Denson will sing with the Staatsoper Hamburg, where his roles will include Paolo in Simon Boccanegra, Donner in Das Rheingold, and Don Fernando in Fidelio; at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Washington National Opera, and the Houston and Paducah Symphonies. He is an alumnus of Wolf Trap Opera, the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and the University of Kentucky. He has been recognized by the George London Foundation, The International Concurs Tenor Viñas, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, among others. Learn more at

Bass Stefan Egerstrom, 33, is currently in his third year as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. He made his Company debut last fall as the Jailer in Tosca, and he also performed the role of Second Prisoner in a new production of Fidelio. He was a participant of the 2019 Merola Opera Program, performing in the Schwabacher Summer Concert and the Merola Grand Finale. He portrayed Hunding in Wagner's Die Walküre with Queen City Opera in 2019. In 2018 he made his role debut as King René in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta with Queen City Opera. Mr. Egerstrom was seen as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Siroco in L'Etoile, Carlino in Don Pasquale and soloist in Bach's Johannes-Passion. As part of the Opera Fusion: New Works initiative between Cincinnati Opera and CCM, he performed in workshops of Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star and Gregory Spears' Fellow Travelers. Other operatic roles include Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Dr. Grenvil in La traviata and Kecal in The Bartered Bride. He received his bachelor's degree in vocal performance from Lawrence University and his master's degree in voice from The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Tenor Jonah Hoskins, 25, was born in Saratoga Springs, Utah. He made his operatic debut as the First Spirit in The Magic Flute and continued performing the roles of Tamino in The Magic Flute, Fenton in Falstaff, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, and Septimius in Theodora. At the Santa Fe Opera, he has sung Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro and Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream; in 2022 he will sing the Sailor in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Jonah Hoskins made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2021 as the Dean of Faculty in Massenet's Cendrillon. Upcoming engagements include Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Pensacola Opera and a recital at the Sun Valley Opera, Idaho. Jonah Hoskins has participated in various well known young artist programs as Des Moines Metro Opera, Ohio Light Opera, and HGO's Young Artist Vocal Academy, and has been recognized at several competitions, including second prize at Placido Domingo's Operalia Competition at the Bolshoi Theatre, the Extraordinary Artistic Promise Award at the Lotte Lenya Competition, and first place for the National Opera Association in 2019. Learn more at

Brittany Olivia Logan, 29, is a first year Lindemann Young Artist at the Metropolitan Opera. In the 2022-23 season, she will be heard as Clothilde in Norma and the Priestess in Aida. In 2020, Ms. Logan joined the Wolf Trap Studio to cover Tatyana in Eugene Onegin and Musetta in La bohème at Wolf Trap Opera (canceled due to COVID-19), and returned to Wolf Trap Opera in 2021 and was a Fellow at Ravinia's Steans Music Institute. Brittany is a former Young Artist at Cincinnati Opera, and a fierce proponent of new and contemporary music. Brittany's acclaimed work on projects include: Matt Aucoin's Eurydice (The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Cincinnati Opera), Gregory Spears' Castor and Patience (Cincinnati Opera), and Philip Glass' The Perfect American (Long Beach Opera). She was a National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera's Laffont Competition, winning the Judith Raskin Award, and won the Audience Choice Award at Houston Grand Opera's Eleanor McCollum Competition, the Seybold-Russell Award at UC-CCM's Corbett Opera Competition, and Second prize at the Vero Beach Rising Stars Competition. She received her BM in Vocal Performance from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach and her MM in Vocal Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

A Colorado native, baritone Luke Sutliff, 25, is in his first year in the Houston Grand Opera Studio, where his recent engagements include El Dancaïro in Carmen, Thierry and M. Javelinot in Dialogues des Carmélites, Papageno cover in Die Zauberflöte, and finishing the season as Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette. This past summer, Sutliff made his company debut as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Santa Fe Opera and covered John Seward in the world premiere of Corigliano's The Lord of Cries. He will return to Santa Fe this summer to sing El Dancaïro in Carmen, and cover Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Upcoming engagements at Houston Grand Opera include Harvey in The Wreckers, Sciarrone in Tosca, and A Cappadocian in Salome. Sutliff holds a Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School and a Master of Music from Rice University. Learn more at

Cuban-American soprano Elena Villalón, 24, is currently a third-year studio artist with Houston Grand Opera. Engagements in the 2021-2022 season include house and role debuts at The Dallas Opera as Tina in Flight, Austin Opera as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, the Santa Fe Opera as Nannetta in Falstaff, and Houston Grand Opera, where she will create the role of Amy in the world premiere of The Snowy Day and debut the role of Juliette in Roméo et Juliette. In recital, Ms. Villalón will be the Vocal Arts DC emerging artist, and in concert, appears as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in Poulenc's Gloria with the Grand Rapids Symphony and in Handel's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day with Boston Baroque. A Grand Finals winner of the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Villalón most recently took home several prizes in the Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition, including 2nd Prize, Audience Prize, CS Prize, and the Wil Keune Prize. Learn more at