The Richard Tucker Music Foundation announced today that Lisette Oropesa has been named as the winner of the 2019 Richard Tucker Award. The soprano already headlines major productions worldwide, and after her recent house debuts in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Teatro Real Madrid and Royal Opera House, The Guardiandeclared: "The Cuban American soprano is sensationally good. She makes the stratospheric vocal fireworks ... sound easy; indeed, her every note is part of a convincing portrayal of a complex character." Widely referred to as the "Heisman Trophy of Opera," the Tucker Award 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 significant international career. Past winners include such luminaries as Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Matthew Polenzani, and Deborah Voigt. Oropesa will be inducted into this who's who of American opera at the foundation's annual gala, a perennial highlight of the opera season, on Sunday, October 27, at Carnegie Hall.
Barry Tucker, who is the president of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and the son of the Brooklyn-born tenor for whom it is named, said:
"We are delighted that Lisette Oropesa has been named the 2019 Richard Tucker Award winner. She is an incredible soprano whom we have watched develop over the years, and we're very proud of the artist that she is today. We know that she will go on to do great things in her career and make the Richard Tucker Music Foundation proud."
Reached by phone in Brussels, where she is currently starring as Isabelle in Meyerbeer's Robert le diable at La Monnaie, Oropesa responded:
"Thank you so very much! I am extremely appreciative of the tremendous honor from the Tucker Foundation. I can't wait to join my friends and colleagues at the annual Tucker Foundation gala in New York this year. It is a very special event that I feel privileged to be a part of."
About Lisette Oropesa
Lisette Oropesa is, as Spain's Notodo put it, "one of those exceptional things ... like Halley's Comet." Her long association with the Richard Tucker Music Foundation dates back to 2007, when she was awarded a Sara Tucker Study Grant, before winning a Richard Tucker Career Grant two years later. Since then, Oropesa has made debuts on many of the world's great opera stages, and is now taking on principal roles in major international productions. This season she has already starred in both L'elisir d'amoreand a new treatment of Les Huguenots at the Paris Opera, sung Gilda in a new staging of Rigoletto at the Rome Opera, and headlined Rodelinda in her company debut at Liceu Barcelona. After making a second house debut at Belgium's La Monnaie in Robert le diable, she now looks forward to rounding out the season with a third, in a new treatment of Verdi's I masnadieri at La Scala in Milan. Next season she returns to New York's Metropolitan Opera for back-to-back title-role appearances in Manon and La traviata.
Oropesa has taken part in more than 100 performances at the Met to date, in roles including Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Gilda in Michael Mayer's hit take on Rigoletto, besides gracing eight of the company's Live in HD broadcasts. She is also a familiar face at the San Francisco Opera, L.A. Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Washington National Opera in the U.S., and has appeared at companies including Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera, Paris Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, and Netherlands Opera in Europe. In addition to singing the title roles of La traviata, Orphée et Eurydice, La fille du régiment, and Lucia di Lammermoor, she regularly appears as Gilda in Rigoletto, Norina in Don Pasquale, and Adina in L'elisir d'amore. Her concert highlights include collaborations with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras and the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Baltimore Symphonies in the U.S., and with the Orchestre de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Strasbourg Philharmonic in Europe. Besides joining James Levine and Daniel Barenboim for a lieder recital at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall, she has been presented in recital by New York's Park Avenue Armory and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
A first-generation Cuban American, Lisette Oropesa grew up and currently resides in Baton Rouge, where she graduated from the LSU School of Music at Louisiana State University. She is an alumna of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artists Program, and her numerous honors include winning the Grand Finals of the 2005 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Richard Tucker Career Grants and Sara Tucker Study Grants
In addition to Lisette Oropesa's win, the foundation has conferred study and career grants on ten more young American artists. Three 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grantsof $10,000 each, awarded to young singers who have already performed with professional companies, go to sopranos Gabriella Reyes and Laura Wilde and baritone Will Liverman. 2019 Sara Tucker Study Grants of $5,000 apiece go to six young singers displaying great promise at the start of their professional careers, namely sopranos Mathilda Edge, Jessica Faselt, and Alexandria Shiner; mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Decker; and tenors Miles Mykkanen and Richard Trey Smagur. The winners of the study and career grants were chosen by the panel after auditions held last week at New York's 92nd Street Y, thanks to generous support from the Agnes Varis Trust. Biographies and high-resolution photos of the 2019 Study and Career Grant recipients are available for download here.
About the Richard Tucker Music Foundation
Founded in 1975, 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 American opera singers and by bringing opera into the community. 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. The foundation presents its annual gala, featuring a starry lineup of today's leading opera singers, every fall in New York City. Home audiences around the world were able to enjoy last year's gala, which introduced bass-baritone Christian Van Horn as the 2018 Richard Tucker Award winner, thanks to free live broadcasts at medici.tv and WQXR. Further information about the foundation's work is available at www.richardtucker.org, and high-resolution photos of Richard Tucker can be downloaded here.