The Royal Opera House (ROH) won three prizes at the prestigious Olivier Awards during a star-studded ceremony held on 10 April at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Covent Garden-based company has announced.
The event also included a special performance of the Ukrainian National Anthem, sung on stage by mezzo-soprano Kseniia Nikolaieva, one of ROH’s Jette Parker Artists, as a gesture of solidarity with her home country.
Currently performing alongside Pretty Yende in La traviata (The Fallen Woman, Verdi, 1853), Nikolaieva trained at the Kherson Music School and the Ukrainian National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music. She joined the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in 2020 and has performed throughout ROH’s current season.
“It was a real pleasure to perform at the Olivier Awards 2022,” she said. “My hometown Kherson was one of the first major Ukrainian cities to be occupied by Russian troops, and so many of my relatives and friends remain there today.
“Every time I go on stage to sing our anthem, I feel a sense of deep pain at the suffering that my people are experiencing now, many without access to humanitarian aid. But I also feel both a great sense of pride – a gratitude to all those who fight for our freedom – and an unshakeable faith in our victory.”
Claus Guth’s production of Jenůfa (Janáček, 1904) won Best New Opera Production. The director, along with conductor Henrik Nánási, collected the award, presented by actor and director Fiona Shaw. They paid tribute to the determination of the cast, orchestra and the Royal Opera team.
Oliver Mears, director of the Royal Opera, commented: “Postponed only days before it was due to open because of lockdown, Claus Guth’s wonderful production of Jenůfa was one of the early casualties of the pandemic. It’s thanks to the phenomenal hard work and dedication of the creative team, cast and crew that we were able to open 18 months later. This award is an amazing testament to the resilience of our artform.”
Alex Scott and Clare Beresford of Little Bulb Theatre collected the award for Best Family Show, presented by Floella Benjamin, for Wolf Witch Giant Fairy (2021), a new folk opera for younger viewers co-produced with the Royal Opera. The production marked the Royal Opera’s first fully staged work in the Linbury Theatre after the ROH was forced to close in March 2020 due to Covid-19 health restrictions.
Kate Wyatt and Sarah Crabtree, creative producers of the Linbury, said: “We are delighted that Wolf Witch Giant Fairy has been awarded Best Family Show. Every step of the journey, taken with our friends at Little Bulb Theatre, was a complete joy. We took a truly collaborative, exploratory approach, connecting opera and devised theatre, and working with the most dedicated and talented cast and company.
“The show, for which all performances were relaxed, reminded us of the importance of storytelling during challenging times and offered a gripping introduction to opera for all ages.”
The award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera went to Peter Whelan and Irish Baroque Orchestra for Bajazet (Vivaldi, 1735). This new production from director Adele Thomas was a co-production between the Royal Opera and Irish National Opera. It was performed in the Linbury Theatre in February.
Kate Wyatt and Sarah Crabtree commented: “We are thrilled that this celebration of Baroque music, and the exceptional talent of both Peter Whelan and the Irish Baroque Orchestra, has been recognised. It was a joy to collaborate with the orchestra in a co-production with Irish National Opera and bring a Vivaldi opera to our intimate Linbury Theatre for the first time.”
Established in 1976, the Olivier Awards celebrate the world-class status of London theatre, and are Britain’s most prestigious stage honours. The full list of winners is available here.
Wolf Witch Giant Fairy, a new opera for children co-produced by the Royal Opera and Little Bulb Theatre, won Best Family Show at the 2022 Olivier Awards (Helen Murray).