Five winners announced for 2009 NEA Opera Honors


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The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the recipients of its second annual Opera Honors. Composer John Adams (left), mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, director Frank Corsaro, conductor Julius Rudel and general director Lotfi Mansouri are this year’s winners.

Each recipient will receive a grant of $25,000 at an award ceremony to take place in November in Washington. The award was established last year by then-NEA Chairman Dan Gioia.


According to the NEA, the award is intended to ‘honor those visionary creators, extraordinary performers, and other interpreters who have made a lasting impact on our national cultural landscape.’

The award can be given to an individual based on lifetime achievements or a single accomplishment.

Adams is best known as the composer of the operas ‘Nixon in China’ and ‘Doctor Atomic.’ (He will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic for three concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall starting May 12.) Horne is a world-renowned singer who created her own foundation in 1994 to help young performers receive training.

Corsaro is a stage director and librettist who has long been associated with New York City Opera. Rudel also has had a long career with City Opera, where he has conducted 19 world premieres and more than 50 20th century operas, according to the NEA.

City Opera is currently experiencing a well-publicized financial struggle, with the closing of its main venue for renovations and rumors of an impending strike.

Mansouri is most widely known as the general director of the San Francisco Opera, where he served from 1988 to 2001.


Last year’s recipients of the NEA Opera Honors were conductor James Levine, singer Leontyne Price, general director Richard Gaddes and composer Carlisle Floyd.

Do you know someone you’d like to nominate for next year’s Opera Honors? The NEA is accepting nominations now.

-- David Ng