Opera world stages its own awards as faces budget crunch

Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:27pm EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - The world of opera, faced with budget cuts and wanting to raise appreciation of opera, has launched its own annual international awards, unveiling a shortlist of finalists in 23 categories.

The Operas, which will be presented at a ceremony in London on April 22, are the brainchild of Opera Magazine and British businessman Harry Hyman.

Opera Magazine editor John Allison said he hoped the awards would bring recognition to opera at a time when many opera houses were struggling to make ends meet due to a decline in private sponsorships and cuts in state subsidies.

English National Opera, one of London's two principal opera companies, last month announced a loss for 2012 with audience figures down 9 percent and a drop in its public subsidy, while Paris Opera chief Nicolas Joel has publicly decried budget cuts and said he did not intend to renew his contract in 2015.

"Opera houses all over the world are in a lot of difficulty at the moment as everything is being cut and everyone is feeling the pinch. Some smaller houses in the United States have closed," Allison told Reuters.

"Opera houses work very hard and artists put their life and soul into their work but there are a lot of good performances that come and go and are not recognized. Hopefully these awards will raise opera in everyone's conscience."

Allison said the awards also aimed to boost support for new and emerging artists who struggle to make a living from their profession and receive little public recognition.

"Everyone has awards - films, books, music - but there just has not been a set of international awards for opera. We want to change that," said Allison.   Continued...

Hanan Alattar (L), who portrays Leila, and Alfie Boe, who portrays Nadir, perform during a dress rehearsal for the production of Georges Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers" at the English National Opera in London May 28, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez