The 13th European Opera-directing Prize of the Camerata Nuova Wiesbaden was awarded in Birmingham on the last week-end of July.
The 31-year-old Italian stage director Lorenzo Ponte and his team consisting of Alice Benazzi, set designer, and Giulia Rossena, costume designer, received the first prize, the realisation of their concept for the opera Two Widows by Bedřich Smetana.
The winning concept will be performed at the Smetana's Litomyšl Festival. The requirement was for a short version of the opera with a reduced orchestra and ensemble.
Since the Smetana Festival does not produce its own operas, Birmingham Opera Company will take on this task and will receive €25,000 towards the production costs.
In addition to the performances at the Smetana Litomyšl Festival, this production will also be performed by Lviv National Opera in Ukraine. The International May Festival in Wiesbaden is also interested in inviting this production in 2025.
The jury's decision to award the first prize to 31-year-old Lorenzo Ponte was unanimous. He convinced the jury with his way of working with the singers and amateur actors and his humorous
and at the same time topical reading of the opera Two Widows, explained Barbara Minghetti, artistic director of the Teatro Sociale di Como and chair of the jury.
In his concept, Ponte explored the question of when a person stops living. He moved the story to a retirement home, where the characters, despite their age, fight for their rights, their love and their humanity.
A special prize went to Verena Silcher from Stuttgart - a further training course at Birmingham Opera Company, for which Birmingham Opera Company will receive a grant of €10,000.
For the 13th European Opera-directing Prize, 91 young artists in 46 teams from 18 nations applied and submitted their concepts. In April 2023, the semi-final took place in Wiesbaden with 10 selected teams, where two Italian and two German teams qualified for the final in Birmingham.
In the final round, the four finalists had to perform the final scene of "Two Widows" with four singers from Birmingham Opera Company and several amateur performers from Birmingham and the surrounding area.
The 4 finalist teams were:
Benedikt Arnold - Stage Director (Germany)
Chiara Osella - Stage Director (Italy)
Eleonora Peronetti - Set Designer (Italy)
Lorenzo Ponte - Stage Director (Italy)
Alice Benazzi - Set Designer (Italy)
Verena Silcher - Stage Director (Germany)
Elena Stranghöner - Set Designer (Germany)
The jury consisted of:
Barbara Minghetti (Jury Chair)
Director of Programming and Special Projects Teatro Sociale di Como and Artistic Director of the Festival in Parma
Director of Opera Europa
Director of Birmingham Opera Company
Artistic Director of the Smetana Litomyšl Festival
Artistic Director of Lviv National Opera