Philip Glass and Opera Pacific founder David DiChiera win $25,000 opera award


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The National Endowment for the Arts’ $25,000 NEA Opera Honors lifetime achievement awards for 2010 will go to composer Philip Glass, soprano Martina Arroyo, opera executive David DiChiera and music director Eve Queler.

Ceremonies will be Oct. 22 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with a video tribute to each recipient and a concert produced by the Washington National Opera.


Glass, 73, has applied his minimalist style to an operatic oeuvre that includes ‘Einstein on the Beach,’ ‘Satyagraha’ and ‘Akhnaten.’ ‘the CIVIL WarS,’ one of his collaborations with director Robert Wilson, is a 12-hour work originally intended to premiere at the 1984 Olympic Art Festival in Los Angeles until funding fell apart.

DiChiera, 75, played a role in Southern California opera as founding general director of Opera Pacific from 1985 to 1996. While the Costa Mesa company folded under financial strain in 2008, DiChiera continues as general director of Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theatre, which he founded in 1970 and led concurrently with his tenure at Opera Pacific.

Arroyo, 74, faced racial barriers early in her career; the daughter of Puerto Rican and African American parents was a teacher and social worker in New York City before getting a break in 1958 in a production at Carnegie Hall. She began performing at the Metropolitan Opera as well, with a 1965 ‘Aida’ her first lead role there. President Ford appointed her to a six-year term on the National Council for the Arts, an advisory body for the NEA.

Queler, 74, is the founding artistic director of the Opera Orchestra of New York, established in 1971.

-- Mike Boehm


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