The prestigious Glyndebourne Opera Cup has been won by American baritone Edward Nelson, a rising star within the opera world, it has been announced.

The 31-year-old Californian competed against five other singers for first prize in Glyndebourne’s annual international contest to find the best young operatic talent. He has won the top prize of £15,000 plus the guarantee of a role within five years at one of the top opera houses represented on the competition’s jury.

During the final, Nelson performed two dramatic arias from Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet (1868), before sealing his win with a spectacular performance of the show-stopping ‘Largo al factotum’ aria from The Barber of Seville (Rossini, 1816). He was presented with his prize by Dame Janet Baker at a special evening hosted by comedian Chris Addison and Australian soprano Danielle de Niese. Second place, with a prize of £10,000, went to British soprano Alexandra Lowe, 28, while taking third place and £7,500 was American tenor Eric Ferring, 27.

Nelson didn’t encounter opera until he was 18. Despite growing up in a non-musical family, 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 the Norwegian National Opera as Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), after learning the role in just four weeks.

Stephen Langridge, Glyndebourne’s artistic director and chair of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup jury, commented: “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.”

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.

Dame Janet Baker, honorary president of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup, added: “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.”



Glyndebourne Opera Cup winner Edward Nelson received his prize from Dame Janet Baker (Richard Hubert Smith).