Legendary American soprano Leontyne Price was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement gong at the 2019 International Opera Awards (IOA) at a glittering red-carpet gala event at London’s Sadler’s Wells that took place last night (29 April).

The IOA acknowledged the pioneering singer’s many achievements over her illustrious career, stating: “In a ground-breaking career that for the first time placed a great African-American artist at the very pinnacle of the operatic profession, both in her native United States and throughout Europe, Leontyne Price upheld the highest vocal standards that led to her receiving universal acclaim wherever and whatever she sang.”

With her exceptional voice, huge repertoire and role as a fierce advocate and trailblazer for the civil rights movement in the United States, Price is regarded as one of the greatest opera stars of our time, as well as an inspiration to millions around the world. In 1955 she became the first African-American to sing a leading role in a televised opera in NBC’s live production of Puccini’s Tosca.

Unable to attend the ceremony, Price commented: “To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement. I am always delighted when my artistry meets such high-level recognition. It has always served to remind me that it is the artists’ mission to take their art to the people. It was an honour to be able to share my art with so many people. Please express my gratitude to the nominating and selection committee for this honour. I appreciate this tribute more than words could ever express.”

The Awards, considered opera’s answer to the Oscars, celebrate achievements in opera around the globe in a wide range of categories. The ceremony was hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Petroc Trelawny for the fourth year running, and highlights will be broadcast on Radio 3 on Monday 6 May at 7.30pm.

Other winners included American tenor Charles Castronovo (Male Singer) and Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian (Female Singer). German Marc Albrecht won the Conductor award. The Readers’ Award, the only one chosen by the public rather than an international jury, went to Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who received an astonishing half of all votes cast.

The International Opera Awards were founded in 2012. Their aim is to raise the profile of opera as an artform, to recognise and reward success in opera and to generate funds to provide bursaries for aspiring operatic talent from around the world. Since 2012 more than £300,000 has been raised by the Opera Awards Foundation.

For a full list of winners go to the Opera Awards website.



Petroc Trelawny hosts the International Opera Awards 2019 (Chris Christodoulou).