These are the nominations for the Primi Divi’s opera awards of 2005-06. They are just a bit of fun, and our ignoring anyone is mostly down to a mixture of ignorance and peculiar taste. As far as possible, there are five nominees in each category, one chosen by each of the original five Primi Divi, but sometimes two people have the same favourites, and we’ve had to put a couple of second favourites on the list. There were also award categories not everyone wanted to join in...

BEST OPERA (NEW PRODUCTION)
Eugene Onegin - ROH
King Arthur - ENO
A Midsummer Night’s Dream - ROH
Il re pastore - ROH
Tosca – ROH

Why should it be just the new operas that get the attention? A lot are better the second time around...

BEST OPERA (REVIVAL)

The Magic Flute - ENO
Nixon in China - ENO
Le nozze di Figaro - ON
One Touch of Venus - ON
Xerxes – ENO

What is a concert performance? At least one of these was partly-staged, but was it staged enough to be semi-staged? Who knows? Who cares?

BEST CONCERT PERFORMANCE
Clori, Tirsi e Fileno - Early Opera at the Wigmore Hall
Don Giovanni - Concerto Cologne at the Barbican
Fidelio - LSO at the Barbican
Love’s Labyrinth - Opera Restor’d at the Wigmore Hall
Rodelinda - Il complesso barocco at the Barbican

BEST CONDUCTOR
Bernard Haitink - Beethoven’s Ninth, LSO at the Barbican
Richard Hickox - A Sea Symphony, LSO at the Barbican
Rory Macdonald - Il barbiere di Siviglia, ROH
Sir Charles Mackerras - The Bartered Bride, ROH
Antonio Pappano - Le nozze di Figaro, ROH

BEST DIRECTOR
Stephen Barlow - Alfonso und Estrella, UCO
John Doyle - Fast Forward Figaro, Drill Hall
John Fulljames - The Nose, The Opera Group
Chen Shi-Zheng - Orfeo, ENO
Mark Tinkler - The Magic Flute, English Pocket Opera

BEST SET DESIGN
Alison Chitty - The Bartered Bride, ROH
Fyodor Fyodorovsky - Boris Godunov, Kirov
Sally Jacobs - Turandot, ROH
Alice Purcell - Le nozze di Figaro, ON
George Tsypin - The Fiery Angel, Kirov

We also thought we’d give an award for the best production of one particular opera. It’s not often you see an opera enough times to have a category like this, so we thought we’d grab the opportunity. Some of these are old productions, and some are new, but we don’t care. When we say “production” we are looking at direction, set design, casts, everything.

BEST PRODUCTION OF LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
Fast Forward Figaro at the Drill Hall
Glyndebourne on Tour
Opera North
Royal Opera
Welsh National Opera

There have been so many – well, three - shortened versions of operas this year, we thought they deserved a category too. They all deserve an award, though. I’m against the idea of shortening operas, but I loved every one of these.

BEST SHORT OPERA
Fast Forward Figaro (Drill Hall)
The Magic Flute (English Pocket Opera)
School for Lovers (Opera UK)

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN A LEADING ROLE
Placido Domingo - title role, Cyrano de Bergerac, ROH
Simon Keenlyside - title role Billy Budd, ENO
Kyle Ketelsen - title role Le nozze di Figaro, ROH
James Maddalena - title role Nixon in China, ENO
Iain Paterson - title role Le nozze di Figaro, Glyndebourne on Tour

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN A LEADING ROLE
Jeni Bern - Susanna Le nozze di Figaro, Opera North at Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Joyce DiDonato - Dejanira Hercules, Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican
Gail Pearson - Gilda Rigoletto, Opera Holland Park
Miah Persson - Susanna Le nozze di Figaro, ROH
Mary Plazas - title role Madam Butterfly, ENO

So what is a leading role? More importantly, for our next category, what is a supporting role? Some of these performers nominated for ‘supporting role’ were also considered for the ‘leading role’ award for the same character... We’ve just worked out a system so everyone we want to be nominated fits in somewhere. We did think of having another category for Best Male/Female Performer in a Walk-On Role, but we could only think of one or two who came anywhere near deserving an award for it. So that category got scrapped.

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Gerald Finley - Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro, ROH
Robert Gleadow - Zaretsky Eugene Onegin, ROH
John Tomlinson - Claggart Billy Budd, ENO
Rolando Villazon - Lensky Eugene Onegin, ROH
Mark Wilde - Walther/Hugo/Old Woman Blond Eckbert, The Opera Group

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Elizabeth Atherton - Countess Le nozze di Figaro, WNO
Susan Gritton - Liu Turandot, ROH
Anne Mason - Kostelnicka Jenufa, English Touring Opera
Arlene Rolph - Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro, WNO
Sarah Tynan - Constance The Carmelites, ENO

Choosing awards for the Best Young Singers was difficult because we didn’t know where to put the age cut-off point. The singers themselves weren’t terribly helpful, as opera singers’ D.O.Bs are not something that can be easily found on the Internet. The cut-off point for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is 35, so we’ve tried to stick to that. But I think this makes Anna Netrebko and Jonathan Lemalu eligible for this award, and if we don’t let them win, all their fans would probably come and murder us. (Not that they aren't great singers.) So I’ll leave them out. This award isn’t for anyone who’s really famous, just people who ought to be.

BEST YOUNG MALE SINGER
Robert Gleadow - various roles, ROH
Lukasz Jakobczyk - Frere Laurent Romeo et Juliette, British Youth Opera
Andrew Kennedy - various roles, ROH and ENO
Robert Murray - various roles, ROH
Krysztof Szumanski - National Opera Studio Masterclass, ROH

BEST YOUNG FEMALE SINGER
Elizabeth Atherton - Donna Elvira and Countess, WNO
Lee Bisset - First Lady Die Zauberflote, ENO
Ana James - Elisa Il re pastore, ROH
Katie Van Kooten - Aminta Il re pastore, ROH
Anna Leese - Juliette Romeo et Juliette, British Youth Opera

BEST COMIC FEMALE
Marie Angel – Susanna, Cherubuno etc Fast Forward Figaro, Drill Hall
Elizabeth Atherton – Countess Le nozze di Figaro, WNO
Tove Dahlberg – Hermia A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ROH
Janis Kelly – Figaro, Countess etc Fast Forward Figaro, Drill Hall
Christianne Tisdale – Molly One Touch of Venus, Opera North at Sadler’s Wells

BEST COMIC MALE
Giles Davies - Baritone Love’s Labyrinth, Opera Restor’d at the Wigmore Hall
Darren Jeffery – Bottom/Pyramus A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ROH
Andrew Kennedy – Flute/Thisbe A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ROH
Andrew Sritheran – Snout/Wall A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ROH
Eddie Wade – Indian The Bartered Bride, ROH

We saw a lot of understudies this year, so here is a category for them. Being an understudy must be more difficult than being the real thing. Waiting is boring; being called at the last minute is terrifying, hardly anyone wants to see you anyway... One of these wasn't strictly an understudy, but he still deserves an award.

BEST MALE UNDERSTUDY
Filippo Adami – Grimoaldo Rodelinda, Il complesso barocco at the Barbican
Roger Begley - First Mate Billy Budd, ENO
Victor Lutsyuk – Hermann The Queen of Spades, Opera Holland Park
Paul Napier-Burrows – Elviro Xerxes, ENO
Kristinn Sigmundsson – Rocco Fidelio, LSO at the Barbican

BEST FEMALE UNDERSTUDY
Louise Cannon – Blanche The Carmelites, ENO
Malin Christensson - Soprano Solomon, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Barbican
Alwyn Mellor – Senta Der fliegende Hollander, WNO
Miriam Murphy - Lady Macbeth Macbeth, ROH
Kathleen Wilkinson - She-Ancient The Midsummer Marriage, ROH

Best Chorus members next... are we going a little bit over the top? Not at all. Chorus members work almost every day, almost every evening, and they still never seem to have bad days.

BEST CHORUS MEMBER IN A SOLO ROLE
Neil Gillespie (ROH) – Servants La traviata and Un ballo in maschera, ROH
Michael Lessiter (ROH) – Kecal The Bartered Bride Sing-Along, ROH
Deborah Peake-Jones (ROH) – Marenka The Bartered Bride Sing-Along, ROH
Luke Price (ROH) – Vasek/Jenik The Bartered Bride Sing-Along, ROH
Susanna Tudor-Thomas (ENO) - Chambermaid The Makropulos Case, ENO

BEST MALE SINGER IN A CHORAL WORK
Grant Doyle, baritone – Carmina Burana, Raymond Gubbay at the Royal Albert Hall
Gerald Finley, baritone –Beethoven’s Ninth, LSO at the Barbican
John Mac Master, tenor – Beethoven’s Ninth, LSO at the Barbican
Iain Paton, tenor – Carmina Burana, Raymond Gubbay at the Royal Albert Hall

BEST FEMALE SINGER IN A CHORAL WORK
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano – Beethoven’s Ninth, LSO at the Barbican
Susan Gritton, soprano – A Sea Symphony, LSO at the Barbican
Gail Pearson, soprano – Carmina Burana, Raymond Gubbay at the Royal Albert Hall
Twyla Robinson, soprano – Beethoven’s Ninth, LSO at the Barbican

We did want to have separate categories for recitals and concerts, but we hadn’t been to enough of them, and we couldn’t be bothered to sit around working out which were concerts and which were recitals. So we put them together.

BEST MALE SINGER IN RECITAL/CONCERT
Sir Thomas Allen, baritone – Recital, Wigmore Hall
Ian Bostridge, tenor – Gala for Jean, Wigmore Hall
Gerald Finley, baritone – Recital, Wigmore Hall
Robert Lloyd, bass – Gala for Jean, Wigmore Hall
Andreas Scholl, countertenor – Concert, Barbican

BEST FEMALE SINGER IN RECITAL/CONCERT
Renee Fleming, soprano – Concert, Barbican
Sally Matthews, soprano – Mozart Arias, St Luke’s
Lisa Milne, soprano – Recital, Wigmore Hall
Sara Mingardo, contralto – Mozart Arias, St Luke’s
Louise Winter, mezzo-soprano – Gala for Jean, Wigmore Hall

The Best Prom Award is for a Prom that happened last year. It goes to a Prom that was good all the way through, so The Last Night was not eligible.

BEST PROM (2005)
Prom 3: The Fairy Queen
Prom 7: Nelsonmesse
Prom 42: Iolanta, Nutcracker excerpts
Prom 52: Giulio Cesare
Prom 57: Rossini, Debussy, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov

Ballet is not opera, and it’s not even singing, usually, and we only saw three good ones, but we feel like giving it a category anyway. So, here it is.

BEST BALLET
La fille du mal gardee, Royal Ballet
The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet
Romeo and Juliet, Royal Ballet

Education events never seem to get the attention they deserve, but they are usually just as carefully prepared, and just as high a standard as anything happening on the mainstage. They are also a lot of fun. So here we are, giving them some well-deserved attention.

BEST EDUCATION EVENT
Alcina Study Day (ETO)
The Bartered Bride Sing-Along (ROH)
Gerald Finley Masterclass (ROH)
Mozart’s 250th Anniversary Day (ROH)
Le nozze di Figaro Study Day (Classical Opera Company)

The Best Radio Broadcast nominees are all from the Met. I’m not sure why, as the season was quite disappointing as a whole, but that’s just the way it worked out...

BEST RADIO BROADCAST
Cosi fan tute (Met)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Met)
Fidelio (Met)
Lohengrin (Met)
Rodelinda (Met)

We haven’t all heard all of the CDs below, but we’ll have to before we decide...

BEST NEW CD
La clemenza di Tito – Rainer Trost, Hillevi Martinpelto
Mozart Arias and Duets – Isabel Bayrakdarian, Michael Schade, Russell Braun
Scottish Songs for George Thomson II and Folksong Arrangements Vol. 2 – Jamie MacDougall
A Song for Anything – Gerald Finley
Violetta – Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon

Beautiful costumes are all very well, but some of us would rather see something that makes the performers look like they’re suffering. Or ay least coping with a challenge.

BEST COSTUME
Marie Angel/Janis Kelly – many different roles requiring quick costume changes Fast Forward Figaro
Alexander Grove – title role The Nose
Amy Freston – scantily-clad Parthenis La belle Helene
Scheherazade Pesante – her many different costumes El amor brujo
Mark Wilde – at least three different and interesting costumes Blond Eckbert

Death Scenes happen almost every day you go to the opera, but occasionally there is one that actually makes an impression on you.

BEST DEATH SCENE
Ana Maria Martinez – Violetta La traviata, ROH (comsumption)
Felicity Palmer – Old Prioress The Carmelites, ENO (cause unknown – old age?)
Iain Paton – Swan Carmina Burana, Royal Albert Hall (roasted)
Johan Reuter – title role Wozzeck, ROH(drowned)
Rolando Villazon – Lensky Yevgeny Onegin, ROH(shot)

And now for our next award...
I hope those who are chosen won’t be offended.
I hope those who aren’t chosen won’t be offended.
If you want to be chosen/not chosen next year, perhaps you could spend more time with your back/front to the audience.

BEST MALE BOTTOM
Gerald Finley
Simon Keenlyside
Iain Paterson
Antonio Pappano
Rolando Villazon

BEST FEMALE BOTTOM
Yvette Bonner
Amy Freston
Ana James
Wendy Dawn Thompson
Sarah Tynan

And finally, an award for the staff, who haven’t affected our enjoyment of the evening quite as much as everyone onstage, but have contributed towards it all the same. And, note, some companies’ staff are conspicuous by their absence.

BEST STAFF
Hackney Empire (English Touring Opera)
Theatre Royal, Nottingham (Opera North)
Opera Holland Park
Peacock Theatre (British Youth Opera)
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre (English Touring Opera)

Cunning Little Vixen

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