Friday, May 8, 2009

Opera News: Bass John Relyea Named as Recipient of Met's Fourth Annual Beverly Sills Award

[Photo: © Dario Acosta 2009]

The Metropolitan Opera announced today that bass John Relyea has been named as the recipient of the fourth annual Beverly Sills Award. The prize, which is presented annually to a young singer between the ages of 25 and 40 who has already appeared in a featured role with the Metropolitan Opera, carries a $50,000 award, making it the largest of its kind in the United States.

Established in 2006 with an endowment gift from Agnes Varis, managing director of the Met's board, and her husband Karl Leichtman, the award honors the late Beverly Sills by providing developing young artists with funds to help further their careers through voice lessons, vocal coaching, language lessons, related travel costs and other forms of professional assistance.

"I am profoundly honored to be receiving this award," said Relyea, who was presented with the prize in his dressing room prior to Wednesday's performance of La Cenerentola, in which he sings the role of Alidoro. "While I was never able to get to know Ms. Sills well, we did meet on a couple of occasions, and she sent me a couple of very supportive and complimentary notes before performances. It flattered and delighted me to know she was watching me, and taking the time to make such warm gestures. I would also like to give my deepest thanks to Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman, and the Metropolitan Opera for choosing me as this year's recipient. I am greatly humbled to be recognized in the presence of the legacy which Ms. Sills created for the world of opera, and the paragon of her artistry which so many of us continue to strive for throughout our singing careers.”

Relyea, who made his Met debut in 2000 as Alidoro, is the fourth recipient of the award, which was first given to baritone Nathan Gunn in 2006, and subsequently given to mezzo Joyce DiDonato in 2007 and tenor Matthew Polenzani in 2008. Over nine years, Relyea has sung a dozen roles at the Met, ranging from Méphistophélès in this season's new production of La Damnation de Faust, to Mozart's Figaro. Last season, he sang Banquo in Adrian Noble's production of Macbeth, and, during the 2006-07 season, performed the roles of Don Basilio (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Giorgio (I Puritani); Relyea also assumed the role of Garibaldo in the 2004 Met premiere of Handel's Rodelinda.

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