NEA Opera Honors

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has established its first individual arts award in 25 years, the NEA Opera Honors. The awards, which celebrate lifetime achievement and individual excellence, will be presented on October 31 at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, DC, with performances by the Washington National Opera and members of its Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists program, conducted by Placido Domingo. NEA chairman Dana Gioia says that the new award "recognizes that American opera has truly come of age with our singers, musicians, composers, directors, designers and opera companies who are second to none in the world." OPERA America, the national nonprofit service organization, is the NEA partner in the Opera Honors program. In this inaugural year of the award, Washington National Opera is also a partner.

The first NEA Opera Honors are being given in four categories: singer, composer, advocate and conductor. Soprano  Leontyne Price is known for her elegant musicianship, her generosity to young singers and her remarkable recording legacy. Composer Carlisle Floyd has had a long and distinguished career; his many memorable operas include Susannah and Of Mice and Men. Advocate winner Richard Gaddes, the general director of the Santa Fe Opera and co-founder of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, is known for challenging, adventurous programming. James Levine, who has led the Metropolitan Opera premieres of work by composers from Mozart to Weill and the world premieres of American operas by John Corigliano and John Harbison, has also fine-tuned the Met orchestra into one of the world's leading ensembles.

For more information, visit www.arts.gov/honors/opera, www.operaamerica.org and www.dc-opera.org.