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Commentary

08 Mar 2020

Edward Nelson Wins 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup

A rising star American baritone who didn’t encounter opera until he was 18 has won the 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup as the major international singing competition culminated in a live broadcast on Sky Arts from the Glyndebourne stage.

2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup

Above: Edward Johnson

Photo credit: Richard Hubert Smith

 

Edward Nelson, 31, grew up in a non-musical family, with the exception of his uncle who used to take him to concerts. Growing up he took part in a variety of performing arts including jazz, classical piano and musical theatre before dedicating himself to opera. He recently made an acclaimed European debut at Norwegian National Opera as Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande after learning the role in just four weeks.

During the Glyndebourne Opera Cup final, Nelson performed two dramatic arias from Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet before sealing his win with a spectacular performance of the show-stopping ‘Largo al factotum’ aria from The Barber of Seville.

He was presented with his prize by Dame Janet Baker, the competition’s honorary president, who sat on the prestigious jury alongside fellow opera legends Sumi Jo, Sir Thomas Allen, and Dame Felicity Lott and top industry professionals. The competition was produced for Sky Arts by Factory Films and was presented by Chris Addison and Danielle de Niese.

As part of Glyndebourne’s commitment to diversity in the Glyndebourne Opera Cup, Sky Arts offered a bursary for BAME and Financially Disadvantaged contestants, which was claimed by a quarter of the singers who reached the semi-finals and a third of the finalists.

Six singers competed at the final for the top prize of £15,000 and the guarantee of a role within five years at one of the top international opera houses represented on the competition’s jury. They were accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the up-and-coming Canadian conductor Jordan de Souza.

Second Place went to British soprano Alexandra Lowe, 28, while taking Third Place was American tenor, Eric Ferring, 27.

The Audience Prize, voted on by the live audience at Glyndebourne, was awarded to Chinese soprano Meigui Zhang, 26, and the Ginette Theano Prize for Most Promising Talent, was presented to South Africa mezzo-soprano Siphokazi Molteno.

The Glyndebourne Youth Jury, made up of young singers aged 16-21 who have taken part in Glyndebourne talent development and youth opera programmes, awarded their prize for the most engaging and communicative performance to South Korean tenor Sungho Kim.

Stephen Langridge, Glyndebourne’s Artistic Director and chair of The Glyndebourne Opera Cup jury, said: ‘All of the finalists performed to an extremely high standard but Edward Nelson’s dramatic flair and vocal elegance set him apart on the night and made him our worthy winner.’

Dame Janet Baker, honorary president of The Glyndebourne Opera Cup, said: ‘Sometimes the differences between talented singers are very small indeed; this was the case tonight. Both the semi final and the final stages produced technical singing of quality and all the singers involved can go home with heads held high knowing they have done themselves justice.’

The final of The Glyndebourne Opera Cup was broadcast live on Sky Arts and is available to watch on demand.

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