Opera Vlaanderen voted best opera house in the world


The Antwerp-based company took home the Opera Company of the Year award at the top event for opera in the world, while De Munt wins Best New Production

Prizes all around

Opera Vlaanderen has won the top prize of Opera Company of the Year at the International Opera Awards. It was one of three awards won by the Antwerp-based house during the prestigious event at Sadler’s Wells in London.

While the Antwerp-based company has been nominated for the prize four times, this is the first time it brought it home. “It’s a great honour and the icing on the cake for a decade of hard work,” said the opera’s artistic director, Aviel Cahn.

The awards were handed out at a gala ceremony in London on Monday evening. The much-anticipated grand prize is the final one announced: Opera Company of the Year. The nominees were an impressive group: Opéra national de Paris, Theater an der Wien, Houston Grand Opera, Deutsche Oper am Rhein and the Gothenburg Opera.

The name that emerged from the golden envelope, though, was Opera Vlaanderen, to thunderous applause. It was the company’s fourth time to be nominated for the top prize.

‘At the vanguard’

Cahn accepted the prize, calling it “a great honour and the result of 10 years of hard work by everyone involved in our house, onstage and behind the scenes, in the offices and workshops. So above all, this is also an award for them.”

He went on to say that the prize “once again underscores the fact that Opera Vlaanderen is at the vanguard internationally, precisely because we present opera in a way that is exciting, relevant and contemporary. I hope that this prize will inspire everyone who believes, as we do, in the future of the genre.”

Cahn, 44, has been at the helm of Opera Vlaanderen since 2009 but is leaving at the end of this season to take up the post of general director of Le grand théâtre de Genève, in his homeland. He is credited with leading Opera Vlaanderen into a more political and edgier form of the genre, engaging more young people than ever before.

We present opera in a way that is exciting, relevant and contemporary

- Aviel Cahn

Before Opera Vlaanderen, Cahn already had an impressive CV: He started out as the manager of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra before becoming artistic director of the China National Symphony in Beijing, casting director of the National Opera of Finland and opera director of the Bern City Theatre. A book about his directorship at Opera Vlaanderen, Opera Out of the Box, was recently published by Stockmans Art Books.

Opera Vlaanderen won two more prizes at the International Opera Awards: Best Designer for Rebecca Ringst for Les Bienveillantes, on stage now in Antwerp; and Best Female Singer, which went to Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian for her leading roles in both La Juive and Bluebeard’s Castle

De Munt opera house in Brussels also took home an International Opera Award: From the House of the Dead, onstage last autumn, was named Best New Opera.

Photo: Antwerp Opera House during a charity event
(c)Jonas Roosens/Opera Vlaanderen