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9 November 2022

Lise Davidsen, Erin Morley and George Shirley Named as Recipients of the 18th Annual OPERA NEWS Awards

Three Singers to be Celebrated at the April 16, 2023 Awards Gala

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OPERA NEWS EDITOR IN CHIEF F. PAUL DRISCOLL today announced the recipients of the eighteenth annual OPERA NEWS Awards. This year’s honorees—soprano Lise Davidsen, soprano Erin Morley and tenor and educator George Shirley—will be fêted at a black-tie gala on Sunday, April 16, 2023 at the Plaza in New York City. Musical tributes by Stephanie Blythe and Latonia Moore will be performed in honor of the recipients. The gala will also feature appearances by Lawrence Brownlee, Joshua Hopkins and Ana María Martínez

“The editors of OPERA NEWS and the staff and board of directors of the Metropolitan Opera Guild look forward eagerly to the eighteenth annual OPERA NEWS Awards on April 16,” says Mr. Driscoll. “We are proud to honor a trio of distinguished artists—Lise Davidsen, Erin Morley and George Shirley—who represent the highest level of achievement in opera.” 

2023 OPERA NEWS Awards Recipients  

Lise Davidsen: The Norwegian soprano’s meteoric rise in the opera world began in summer 2015, with a trio of honors in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia—first prize, the Birgit Nilsson Prize and the Prize of the Audience—and reviews that hailed her as opera’s most exciting new dramatic soprano. In 2017, Davidsen made her Glyndebourne debut, as Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos, made her Wigmore Hall recital debut and sang for the first time with the BBC Proms. Davidsen’s European engagements have included Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera, Vienna State Opera, Zurich Opera, the Bayreuth Festival and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2019, as Lisa in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, and made her first appearance at La Scala in 2021, in an aria recital. 

Davidsen returned to the Met in 2021–22 to sing her first company performances of Ariadne, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Chrysothemis in Elektra. In March 2023, Met audiences will welcome Davidsen as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. 

OPERA NEWS Deputy Editor Henry Stewart hails Davidsen: "Still relatively early in what promises to be a stupendous career, Lise Davidsen emerged almost fully formed as a once-in-a-generation talent. Her soprano is gargantuan; when she sings at the Met, you think they must hear her in Central Park. But her artistry goes beyond sheer power: the voice is suffused with nuance and sensitivity, bringing her dramatic-rep roles vividly to life."  

Erin Morley: A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, the lyric coloratura is an alumna of the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School and the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Met, where she made her 2008 company debut as First Madrigal Singer in Manon Lescaut. Morley’s subsequent Met roles have included Pamina, Gilda, Olympia, Woglinde in both Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung, Sister Constance in Dialogues des Carmélites, a Niece in the premiere of John Doyle’s Peter Grimes staging, Podtochina’s Daughter in the company premiere of The Nose and the title role in the company premiere of Matthew Aucoin and Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. This season Morley returns to the Met as Sophie in the revival of Robert Carsen’s staging of Der Rosenkavalier and as Pamina in the Met premiere of Simon McBurney’s production of Die Zauberflöte

Says Senior Editor Louise T. Guinther: “Soprano Erin Morley dazzles audiences in every corner of the coloratura repertoire with the crystalline clarity and stratospheric acrobatics of her singing, the pristine accuracy and stylistic acuity of her musicianship and a dramatic range that encompasses everything from the vulnerable ingenue Sophie to the mechanical doll Olympia to the implacable Queen of the Night.

George Shirley: Born in Indianapolis and raised in Detroit, Shirley is an alumnus of Wayne State University. After service in the U.S. Army Chorus, Shirley taught music in Detroit high schools before beginning his professional singing career. He won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions scholarship in April 1961, and the following October made his debuts at New York City Opera, as Rodolfo in La Bohème, and at the Met, as Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte. Shirley was the first Black tenor to sing a leading role at the Met; in his twelve seasons on the Met roster, Shirley sang 250 performances for the company in New York and on tour. Celebrated for his elegance, refinement and generosity, Shirley was a singularly versatile artist; at the Met, his range of roles encompassed the romantic ardor of Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Alfredo in La Traviata, the haunting power of the Steersman in Der Fliegende Holländer and the Mozartean grace of Tamino, Don Ottavio and Ferrando. Away from the Met, Shirley’s notable performances included Loge, Pelléas and David in Meistersinger at Covent Garden; Tamino and Idomeneo at Glyndebourne; Alwa in the U.S. stage premiere of Lulu and Apollo in Daphne at Santa Fe Opera; and Romilayu in New York City Opera’s 1977 world premiere of Leon Kirchner’s Lily. Shirley also sang with San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Michigan Opera Theatre, Scottish Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Dutch National Opera, among other companies.

Shirley was honored with the National Medal of Arts in 2015.  He was a member of the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School for ten years. Shirley was on faculty at the University of Maryland from 1980 to 1987, when he joined the faculty at University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. He is now Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of Voice at University of Michigan.

Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll says: “George Shirley’s incomparable artistry remains a touchstone for all lovers of good singing.  Whether he was singing Handel, Haydn or Mozart, Rossini, Debussy or Stravinsky, Shirley’s singing was remarkable for its honesty, strength and extraordinary beauty. At a time when artists of his race were denied opportunities, Shirley was an inspiration to all artists: he was and is a man of honor and courage, a singer and teacher whose work enriched his world.”  

Proceeds from the OPERA NEWS Awards gala and its live and silent auctions will benefit the education programs of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, which has published OPERA NEWS since 1936. Stuart Holt, the Guild’s Director of Learning and Engagement, observes: “Many of our school partners struggle to offer arts education programming on their own. The funds raised by the Opera News Awards help the Guild ensure that these schools can not only bring engaging and inspirational music education into their classrooms, but also promote creativity and artistic exploration for their students.” 

Individual tickets to the OPERA NEWS Awards are available beginning at $1000; individual Benefactor tickets are available at $1250; and President’s Circle tickets at $1500. In addition, Benefactor tables are available at $10,000; President’s Circle tables at $12,500; and Gold Circle tables at $15,000. 

A portion of each ticket purchase is tax deductible, as allowed by law. For event information, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Metropolitan Opera Guild website (www.metguild.org) or call 212-769-7009.

About OPERA NEWS OPERA NEWS has been published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild since 1936; it has the largest circulation of any classical-music magazine in the United States and is the only North American publication that covers opera internationally. Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll helms the monthly, which is a winner of six ASCAP–Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in music journalism. For more information and the latest news on opera visit OperaNews.com, or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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For interviews with OPERA NEWS Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll or the 18th Annual OPERA NEWS Award honorees, please contact Evelyn Kocak at ekocak@operanews.com or 212-769-7091. 



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