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News | 9 April 2018

Bass-Baritone Christian Van Horn named 2018 Richard Tucker Award Winner


The Richard Tucker Music Foundation announced today that Christian Van Horn – “one of those treasurable singers in whose presence one can entirely relax, assured that everything he does will be delivered with solid interpretive insight and unfailingly attractive tone” (Opera News) – has been named as the winner of the 2018 Richard Tucker Award. The first bass-baritone to be afforded this honor since 2003 and only the third in the award’s 40-year history, Van Horn is currently accruing a string of credits in starring roles, most recently winning praise as Mephistopheles in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of Faust. Widely referred to as the “Heisman Trophy of Opera,” the Tucker Award carries the foundation’s most substantial cash prize of $50,000 and is conferred each year by a panel of opera industry professionals on an American singer at the threshold of a major international career. Past winners include such luminaries as Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, and Matthew Polenzani. Christian Van Horn will be inducted into this who’s who of American opera at the foundation’s annual gala, a perennial highlight of the opera season, on Sunday, October 21, at Carnegie Hall.

Barry Tucker, who is the president of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and the son of the Brooklyn-born tenor for whom it is named, said:

We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Christian as this year’s Richard Tucker Award-winner. In addition to being a fantastic singer and actor, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. As people in the opera business know, it takes a long time for a low voice like his to mature, and it’s been a privilege to watch and hear him grow since he first won a Study Grant from the Tucker Foundation 15 years ago. Needless to say, we’re excited to see the award go to the third bass in our history, and we look forward to the many great performances he has in his future.

Reached by phone in Toronto, where he is currently preparing to sing the role of Emperor in The Nightingale at the Canadian Opera Company, Christian Van Horn responded:

I was on a treadmill at the gym when I received Barry Tucker’s phone call saying I’d won the award. Being 39, it’s not something I was expecting, so I was very surprised, and it’s still sinking in. Receiving this honor means so much because the Tucker Foundation has been there for me since the very beginning. When I won a Sara Tucker Study Grant back in 2003, it both reaffirmed to me that this was something that was going to work and enabled me to survive as a young singer. I am incredibly grateful for Barry and the foundation’s ongoing support; joining this list of legendary singers is a dream come true.

About Christian Van Horn

Christian Van Horn is, as Opera Wire put it, “well on his way to stardom.” His long association with the foundation dates back to his receipt of a Sara Tucker Study Grant in 2003, in which year he also took first place at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Since then, he has made debuts on many of the world’s great opera stages, where he is now taking on principal roles in major international productions. This season alone, besides starring as Mephistopheles in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new treatment of Faust, he sang his first Enrico in Anna Bolena at the Canadian Opera Company and created the role of Julio in the Metropolitan Opera’s American premiere of The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adés. Next season brings two more important firsts, when the bass-baritone makes debuts at the Paris Opera and in the title role of Mefistofele at the Met.

Other of the world’s foremost opera houses where Van Horn has appeared include Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Rome Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Netherlands Opera, as well as the Salzburg and Munich festivals. Besides undertaking such signature roles as the title character in Le nozze di Figaro, Colline in La bohéme, Banquo in Macbeth, the Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and Escamillo in Carmen, he took part in the world premiere productions of Tan Dun’s Tea: A Mirror of the Soul at Santa Fe Opera and Marco Tutino’s Two Women at San Francisco Opera. Among his most notable concert engagements are recent debuts with the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony and appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle in Salzburg; in the Emerson String Quartet’s “Perspectives” series at Carnegie Hall; and with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Los Angeles, and Melbourne. He has recorded the title role of Le nozze di Figaro for Sony Classical and recently appeared in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast of Falstaff. In addition to winning first place at the 2003 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and receiving a 2003 Sara Tucker Study Grant, his honors include first place at the 2002 MacAllister Competition Collegiate Division, a top prize at the 2002 Liederkranz Foundation Vocal Competition, and the Richman Award from Opera Theatre of St. Louis. A native of Long Island and graduate of Chicago’s Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, Van Horn holds a Master’s in music from Yale University. Click here for more information, and here for high-resolution photos.

Richard Tucker Career Grants and Sara Tucker Study Grants

In addition to Christian Van Horn’s win, the foundation has conferred study and career grants on ten more young American artists. Three 2018 Richard Tucker Career Grants of $10,000 each, awarded to young singers who have already performed with professional companies, go to Andrea Carroll, Samantha Hankey, and Jack Swanson. 2018 Sara Tucker Study Grants of $5,000 apiece go to seven young singers displaying great promise at the start of their professional careers, namely Eric Ferring, Theo Hoffman, David Leigh, Brian Michael Moore, Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez, Zoie Reams, and Kyle van Schoonhoven. The winners of the study and career grants were chosen by the panel after auditions held last week at New York’s 92nd Street Y, thanks to the generous support of the Agnes Varis Trust. Biographies of the recipients are provided below, and high-resolution photos of the 2018 Study and Career Grant recipients are available for download here.

About the 2018 Richard Tucker Career Grant Winners

Richard Tucker Career Grants are awards of $10,000, bestowed on young singers who have already gained performance experience in professional companies.

Soprano Andrea Carroll (28) is an ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera, where she has performed more than 25 roles, including Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Adina in L’elisir d’amore, and Norina in Don Pasquale. This spring she returns to Houston Grand Opera as Maria in West Side Story and gives recitals under the auspices of the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic. In addition to upcoming roles in Vienna, she also looks forward to singing Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles in Houston. Recent career highlights include numerous appearances as a member of the Opera Studio at Houston Grand Opera, including Musetta in La bohème, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Woglinde in Das Rheingold, and Anne in A Little Night Music. She has sung Gilda in Rigoletto with Palm Beach Opera, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande with Garsington Opera, and Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas with Washington National Opera. Carroll is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music and has received awards from the Eleanor McCollum Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the Liederkranz, Lissner, Shoshana, and Sullivan Foundations.

The recipient of a 2016 Sara Tucker Study Grant, mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey (26) took first prize at this spring’s inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup. A native of Marshfield, Massachusetts, this season she made debuts as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia in Oslo, as Siébel in Faust in Geneva, and at Carnegie Hall in The Messiah with Musica Sacra. Next season, she looks forward to singing numerous roles at the Metropolitan Opera, including the Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, Wellgunde in Das Rheingold, Mercédès in Carmen, Pantalis in Mefistofele, and Mlle. Dangeville in Adriana Lecouvreur. She is a recent graduate of the Juilliard School, where she won a Vocal Arts Honors Recital award and appeared in Agrippina and Katya Kabanova. As a member of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, she headlined La Cenerentola in summer 2017. Her previous honors include awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Dallas Opera Guild Competition, and the Lissner Foundation.

As the recipient of a 2017 Sara Tucker Study Grant, tenor Jack Swanson (26) is one of the few young singers to receive the foundation’s Study and Career Grants in consecutive years. On the heels of two milestone debuts – at Los Angeles Opera as Candide and at Glyndebourne as Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia – he now looks forward to engagements as Almaviva at Kansas City Opera, in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Choral Arts Society of Washington, and as Lindoro in L’Italiana in Algeri for his Santa Fe Opera debut. Next season he makes his first Oslo appearances as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, and sings Alfred in Die Fledermaus at Palm Beach Opera and Sam Kaplan in Street Scene in Cologne. Recent career highlights include portrayals of Camille in The Merry Widow with Winter Opera St. Louis, Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Opera Delaware, and Albazar in Il turco in Italia with Garsington Opera. In concert he has appeared with orchestras including the Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and Oregon Symphony. In addition to his Sara Tucker Study Grant, he has received awards and recognition from the Eleanor McCollum Competition and Glyndebourne Opera Cup, among others. Swanson is a native of Stillwater, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma before earning his Master’s at Rice University.

About the 2018 Sara Tucker Study Grant Winners

Sara Tucker Study Grants are awards of $5,000, bestowed on young singers in the process of transitioning from student to professional singer.

Tenor Eric Ferring (25) was a top prize-winner at the 2017 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Voice Competition. As a second-year Resident Artist with Pittsburgh Opera, he has appeared as Spoletta in Tosca, Don Basilio and Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro, Ricky in The Long Walk, and Flask in Moby-Dick, and looks forward to headlining L’elisir d’amore and taking part in the world premiere production of Savage Winter. This fall he joins the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he will cover roles in Idomeneo, Il trovatore, Cendrillon, La traviata, and Ariodante. Originally from Dubuque, Iowa, he is a graduate of Drake University and the Boston Conservatory, and a former member of young artist programs at Opera Theater of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, and the Seagle Music Colony.

As a member of the Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Coburn-Stein Young Artist Program since 2016, baritone Theo Hoffman (24) has taken part in company productions of Candide, Carmen, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Salome, Macbeth, and Akhnaten. Having recently made his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, given a solo recital at the Kennedy Center with Vocal Arts D.C., and sung the lead role of Joseph K. in Philip Glass’s The Trial at Opera Theater of St. Louis, his upcoming engagements include Flight at Des Moines Metro Opera, Bright Sheng’s The Silver River with Chamber Music Northwest, his third summer at Marlboro Music, and West Side Story at the Grand Teton Music Festival. Next season he returns to LA Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and makes his debut at the Mozartwoche in Salzburg. A native New Yorker, Hoffman was a Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2016 National Council Auditions and is a graduate of the Juilliard School.

Bass David Leigh (30) is in his second year at the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera, where he makes his debut this spring as the Surintendant in Cendrillon. He made his Aix-en-Provence festival debut last summer as the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, which was also the vehicle for appearances at Florentine Opera and the Festival de Beaune. Upcoming engagements include Rossini’s Stabat Mater at the Kennedy Center, singing Colline in La bohème for his Bolshoi Opera debut, and the role of Turbo in the world premiere production of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian at the Canadian Opera Company. Leigh has been a member of the young artist programs at Santa Fe Opera and Opera Theater of St. Louis. He studied composition at Yale, where he received both undergraduate and graduate degrees, before earning a Master’s from Mannes College of Music. He has received awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and Fort Worth Opera’s McCammon Voice Competition, among others.

Tenor Brian Michael Moore (25) is a second-year member of the Domingo-Coburn-Stein Young Artist Program at Los Angeles Opera, where he has performed or covered roles in Candide, Nabucco, Carmen, Salome, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Macbeth, and Akhnaten. Other notable engagements have included performances as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at Italy’s Spoleto Festival and the Duke in Rigoletto for Asheville Lyric Opera. A participant in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program and the Aspen Music Festival, he also performed numerous roles while earning his degree at Manhattan School of Music. Moore was born in Cincinnati, and has won recognition from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Spoleto Festival, and the Kennedy Center VSA Young Soloists.

A first-year member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, soprano Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez (25) is a recent graduate of the Boston Conservatory and Boston University’s Opera Institute, where her notable roles include the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and the title role in Emmeline. In concert, she recently sang the First Lady in excerpts from Die Zauberflöte with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel, and Mimì in excerpts from La bohème with the Boston Civic Symphony. Upcoming engagements include roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with the Santa Cruz Symphony, a collaboration with the Nuremberg Symphony, concerts in the Metropolitan Opera’s “Concerts in the Parks” series, and participation in Germany’s Internationale Meistersinger Akademie. A finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Reyes de Ramírez is Nicaraguan-American, and was born in Meriden, Connecticut.

As second-year studio artist with the Houston Grand Opera, mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams (25) has sung or covered roles in company productions of La traviata, Elektra, West Side Story, Giulio Cesare, and Norma. Last season she took part in Houston’s world premieres of It’s a Wonderful Life and Some Light Emerges, as well as appearing in Nixon in China. She has also appeared as Suzuki in Madame Butterfly at Opera Columbus, as Tituba in The Crucible at Glimmerglass Opera, and as Clarice in Rossini’s La pietra del paragone at Wolf Trap Opera. A Chicago native, and a graduate of Lawrence University and Louisiana State University, Reams won recognition from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Eleanor McCollum Competition, and the Classical Singer Competition.

Tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven (29) is currently an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera, where he made his stage debut as the Young Servant in Elektra, covered Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and looks forward to covering Froh in Das Rheingold, Siegmund in Die Walküre, and Cavaradossi in Tosca. Other 2018-19 engagements include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the San Antonio Symphony. A 2017 winner of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, he also received the Nicolai Gedda Memorial Award from the George London Foundation and awards from the Brava! Opera Theater and the Jensen Foundation. Van Schoonhoven hails from Lockport, New York, and holds degrees from the Fredonia School of Music and Westminster Choir College

About the Richard Tucker Music Foundation

Founded in 1975, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great Brooklyn-born tenor by nurturing the careers of talented American opera singers and by bringing opera into the community. Through awards, grants for study, performance opportunities and other activities, the foundation provides professional development for singers at various stages of their careers. It also offers free performances in the New York metropolitan area and supports music education enrichment programs. The foundation presents its annual gala featuring a starry lineup of today’s leading opera singers every fall in New York City. Audiences in 125 countries around the world were able to enjoy last year’s gala, which introduced soprano Nadine Sierra as the 2017 Richard Tucker Award-winner, thanks to WQXR 105.9 FM, New York’s classical radio station. Further information about the foundation’s work is available at www.richardtucker.org, and high-resolution photos of Richard Tucker can be downloaded here.