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Dallas Opera's Maria Callas Award Nominees Announced

by Jerome Weeks 18 Apr 2011 4:03 PM

The Dallas Opera has announced the nominees for its Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award. Winners have included Cecilia Bartoli and Ben Heppner. Opera subscribers? You’ve got til May 3 to vote.


Charles Castronovo as Romeo with Lyubov Petrova as Juliet

The Dallas Opera has announced the 18 nominees for its Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year. The award will be presented May 19th, and you — if you’re an opera subscriber for the next season, 2011-’12 — you have until May 3rd at 5 pm to cast your ballet. You’ll be getting an e-mail, telling you how.

The prize was created in the 1991-’92 season and subsequent winners have included Cecilia Bartoli, Denyce Graves and Ben Heppner (Capt. Ahab in last season’s Moby-Dick).

Here are the nominees:

Meredith Arwady – “Hostess of the Inn” in Boris Godunov

Evgeny Akimov – “Dmitri” in Boris Godunov

Elena Belfiore – “Smeton” in Anna Bolena

Elena Bocharova –”Marina” in Boris Godunov

Charles Castronovo – “Romeo” in Romeo and Juliet

Kirstin Chávez – “Maddalena” in Rigoletto

Laura Claycomb – “Gilda” in Rigoletto

Roxana Constantinescu – “Stephano” in Romeo and Juliet

Vitaly Efanov – “Pimen” in Boris Godunov

Paolo Gavanelli – “Rigoletto” in Rigoletto

Georgia Jarman – “Elvira” in Don Giovanni

Mikhail Kazakov – “Boris Godunov” in Boris Godunov

Mikhail Kolelishvili – “Varlaam” in Boris Godunov

Mirco Palazzi – “Leporello” in  Don Giovanni

Ailyn Pérez – “Zerlina” in Don Giovanni

Oxana Shilova – “Xenia” in Boris Godunov

Andrei Spekhov – “Shchelkalov” in Boris Godunov

Paulo Szot – “Giovanni” in Don Giovanni

The full release follows:




DALLAS, JUNE 24, 2010 – The Dallas Opera is proud to announce the eighteen artists from around the world who are vying for the prestigious “Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year” Award to be announced at the annual Dallas Opera Board and Trustee Appreciation Dinner on Thursday, May 19th at 6:30 PM in the Crescent Ballroom of the Rosewood Crescent Hotel, 400 Crescent Court in Uptown Dallas.

The award is awarded by the Dallas Opera audience to a single performer each season for a particularly remarkable and memorable company debut.  The deadline for casting your vote is Tuesday, May 3rd at 5:00 PM.

“In the new Winspear Era,” explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, “we are determined to create state-of-the-art productions and commission new works that will attract the finest singers, conductors, directors and designers the world has to offer.  And the task of choosing an honoree for this award should become more difficult for our subscribers with each outstanding season.”

“We have a remarkable list—not only in quality but in quantity,” adds Dallas Opera Artistic Director Jonathan Pell.  “This season allowed me an unusual opportunity to bring nearly twenty of the most talented singers in the world to Dallas for their acclaimed company debuts and I, for one, am glad not to have to make the final choice from a roster of so many extraordinary artists.”


This year, balloting for the award will be conducted entirely online.  Any Dallas Opera subscriber, full or FLEX, who has renewed for the upcoming 2011-2012 Season is eligible to cast a ballot and will receive an email with complete instructions.  The results will be verified by the independent accounting firm of Travis, Wolff & Company, L.L.P.

The winner will receive an etched-crystal plaque, created for the Dallas Opera by award-winning designers from Tiffany & Co., which bears the likeness of legendary soprano Maria Callas, who launched the company in 1957 with an unforgettable recital at the Music Hall in Fair Park.


Meredith Arwady – “Hostess of the Inn” in BORIS GODUNOV

Evgeny Akimov – “Dmitri” in BORIS GODUNOV

Elena Belfiore – “Smeton” in ANNA BOLENA

Elena Bocharova –”Marina” in BORIS GODUNOV

Charles Castronovo – “Romeo” in ROMEO & JULIET

Kirstin Chávez – “Maddalena” in RIGOLETTO

Laura Claycomb – “Gilda” in RIGOLETTO

Roxana Constantinescu – “Stephano” in ROMEO & JULIET

Vitaly Efanov – “Pimen” in BORIS GODUNOV

Paolo Gavanelli – “Rigoletto” in RIGOLETTO

Georgia Jarman – “Elvira” in DON GIOVANNI

Mikhail Kazakov – “Boris Godunov” in BORIS GODUNOV

Mikhail Kolelishvili – “Varlaam” in BORIS GODUNOV

Mirco Palazzi – “Leporello” in DON GIOVANNI

Ailyn Pérez – “Zerlina” in DON GIOVANNI

Oxana Shilova – “Xenia” in BORIS GODUNOV

Andrei Spekhov – “Shchelkalov” in BORIS GODUNOV

Paulo Szot – “Giovanni” in DON GIOVANNI


The Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award was launched during the 1991-1992 Dallas Opera Season.

Sharon Sweet was the first recipient for her impressive performance in the title role of Aida.  Subsequent winners have included Cecilia Bartoli, Mary Dunleavy, Elizabeth Futral, Hei-Kyung Hong, Denyce Graves, Indira Mahajan, Mary Mills, Patricia Racette, Latonia Moore, Christopher Ventris, Catherine Naglestad, James Valenti, and last year’s winner, Canadian tenor Ben Heppner (Captain Ahab in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick).