The Opera Awards Foundation has named the aspiring operatic professionals that will benefit from its bursaries in the coming year, the International Opera Awards has announced.

The foundation has awarded 14 recipients bursaries totalling £60,000. The 11 singers, a conductor, director and opera festival hail from Ukraine, the UK, South Africa, Greece, the United States and Canada. They were selected because they “demonstrated true professional potential, clear financial need and the drive and determination to make a difference on the global operatic scene,” the foundation said in a statement.

The funding will help beneficiaries with a variety of career expenses, such as travel and living costs, course fees, promotional materials and professional coaching sessions, allowing them to focus their time and resources on career development.

It will also be used to fund specific projects. For example, South African stage director Xolane Marman will use the money to run opera and vocal workshops in underfunded schools in his home country through an organisation he has founded called Operatunity.

The UK’s Waterperry Opera Festival will use the money to focus on accessibility and diversity in its 2020 programme, primarily by breaking down traditional relationships between instrumentalists, cast and conductor, as well as incorporating British Sign Language and immersive and interactive components into its productions.

Founder of the International Opera Awards Harry Hyman established the Opera Awards Foundation in 2012 with the aim of helping aspiring artists reach their professional potential.

“I am very proud to present this year’s Opera Awards Foundation bursary recipients,” he commented. “It’s very difficult with the economies around the world in the condition they’re in now for aspiring talent to develop, and I hope that we can make a positive impact on the opera scene by helping them onto the road to success.

“It means so much to be able to contribute and I get a real feeling of achievement when I see our young artists engaged by major opera companies and young artist programmes around the world. We look forward to welcoming these rising stars and to see how they progress over the next year and beyond.”

This year’s 14 winners are:
Anna Starushkevych, mezzo-soprano, Ukraine;
Aphrodite Patoulidou, soprano, Greece;
Caroline Modiba, soprano, South Africa;
Claire Lees, soprano, UK;
Ella Taylor, soprano, UK;
Jack Holton, baritone, UK;
Jacqueline Piccolino, soprano, United States;
Kieron Connor Valentine, countertenor, UK;
Kseniia Nikolaieva, mezzo-soprano, Ukraine;
Luvuyo Mbundu, baritone, South Africa;
Sarah-Jane Lewis, soprano, UK;
Vanessa Chartrand-Rodrigue, conductor, Canada;
Xolane Marman, director, South Africa;
Waterperry Opera Festival, UK.

The Opera Awards Foundation invites applications from aspiring operatic talent around the globe, including singers, directors, conductors, repetiteurs and composers, who strive for operatic excellence, but who require support to achieve this. Applicants are asked to outline their career ambitions and demonstrate how a bursary will help them. Successful recipients are selected by a specialist panel of industry professionals. Applications for 2020 bursaries will open in August 2020

Image: One of the bursary recipients, South African stage director Xolane Marman will use the money to run opera and vocal workshops in underfunded schools in his home country.