The Ópera XXI Awards honored the best of the Spanish stages in the 2020/2021 season, in a ceremony directed by Joan Anton Rechi and presented by the singers Berna Perles and Xavier Sabata, with allusions to the complex period in which “Spanish theaters were example of resistance”, to an exciting future in which “we will be even better”, and in which there was no lack of a call for peace in the world.
“Over the last 24 months, opera in Spain has shown conviction and the ability to excel”, addressed the president of Ópera XXI, Oriol Aguilà, to the large auditorium of the Cevantes Theater in Malaga, which on Saturday night hosted the fourth edition of the Spanish lyrical awards, which highlighted the best of our country’s stages in the 2020/2021 cycle, one of the most complex in its history, “which has required many additional efforts from everyone, but which, even on that stage, opera in our country has been able to set an example of resistance and we have sent a positive message to the world by being a model for other countries”.
Today, with these awards, “we want to celebrate that work, continue to consolidate the inescapable commitment to our community and continue working on what is an obsession for us, making opera and art live as an expression of creativity that helps us transform and serve better for society”.
The fourth edition of the Ópera XXI Awards (the second to be held in person) was attended by the general director of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM – Ministry of Culture and Sports), Joan Francesc Marco; the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre; the Councilor for Culture and Sports of the Malaga City Council, Noelia Losada; the Deputy for Culture of the Diputación de Málaga, Víctor González; and the host and managing director of the Cervantes Theater, Juan Antonio Vigar, who also wanted to emphasize a turning point after these two years of uncertainty: “I am sure that we will be what we were again, and I would say even more so, improved by this very hard experience”.
The ceremony at the Cervantes Theater marks the beginning of the tour of the Spanish opera awards, after the last face-to-face appointment at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, in which the theaters of the territory will act as organizers and hosts. In Malaga, the main representatives of the opera and zarzuela theaters, seasons and festivals of Spain met again, as well as representatives of several Latin American lyrical institutions, as well as artists, journalists and critics and lyrical professionals from our country, supporting the winners of the night, some with a thank you message through a video due to their current professional commitments.
The Valencian soprano Marina Monzó offered a highly applauded musical aperitif before receiving her Best Young Singer Award, with Donizetti and “Linda de Chamounix”. This performance was added to the other eight magnificent musical performances and allusions to different opera scripts made by the presenters, soprano from Malaga Berna Perles and countertenor Xavier Sabata, who turned the ceremony, devised by stage director Joan Anton Rechi, into a entertaining and well put together theatrical show, conceived as a tribute to the profession and art, with allusions and music by Sondheim, Cilea, Händel, Verdi, Strauss, Massenet, Donizetti or Purcell.
To this was added the intervention of the violinist Jesús Reina, the pianist Sergio Montero, and the accompaniment on stage of the Malaga Symphony Orchestra, with Jordi Domènech on baton and piano, in addition to the intervention of the Escolanía Pueri Cantores de Málaga , directed by Antonio del Pino, who performed an exciting “Va pensiero” while a video of different operatic titles framed in some war conflict was projected with a resounding final message: “That war only serve as a plot for operas and not be part of of our reality.”
Francisco de la Torre, Mayor of Malaga, who presented the Best New Latin American Production Award, highlighted in his speech the honor of receiving the Spanish lyrical family in his city and praised the public-private partnerships to launch and maintain the much-needed culture. “All collaboration is too little for the harmony of music to permeate humanity and hide the noise of war,” he said.
Joan Francesc Marco, general director of INAEM, was in charge of presenting and presenting Lluís Pasqual with the Honorary Award for Artistic Career. “It is an honor to be here today accompanying this commendable initiative of Ópera XXI. A night of mixed feelings, because being together today is a great victory, but at the same time I feel enormous discomfort, because while we enjoy music and opera there is a people suffering because of a heartless person. And that art can never forget”.
Marco stressed that “the Ministry of Culture and Sports cannot do anything other than support an initiative such as these awards. All the arts come together in opera, they are all within it and it raises them to an even greater art”. Thanks, he said, to the theaters and seasons for continuing to work in these circumstances: “I encourage you in your fertile task.”
“We all seek our space of freedom and mine is in a rehearsal room”, expressed the director Lluís Pasqual in a video that preceded his intervention. He also went on stage tonight and before addressing the audience put on gloves the color of the Ukrainian flag. “With the one that is falling, he said, it’s a bit embarrassing to celebrate something, but let’s continue going on stage, because any day a moron is going to prohibit us and we won’t be able to do it.”
Pasqual continued in a humorous tone: “It’s the second career award I’ve received in a month and my first reaction was to call my family doctor for a full check-up, after looking at my identity card.” The director moved the audience with his allusions to the passion he feels for opera from very early on. “I saw in the award certificate that I was awarded for my contribution to opera. But it is the other way around. I grew up with the great operas of the Liceu. I continue to listen to opera every day and it is the opera that I want say thank you. When I was a young hippie and my friends went to Ibiza to enter nirvana, I stayed home and put on an aria by Montserrat Caballé and entered nirvana itself. Montserrat’s is the voice that most I’ve heard in my life after mine”.
Pasqual announced in Malaga that he has two opera projects underway for next year: “A magnificent Verdi and another here in this city, with a composer from Malaga.”
At the gala, which could be seen live on the association’s website www.operaxxi.com, through the MyOperaPlayer and Arte.tv platforms, and on the websites of the 25 institutions that are part of Ópera XXI, there was a moving memory for cultural manager Miguel Muñiz, one of the founders of the Ópera XXI association, who died last January.
As announced at the ceremony, the fifth edition of the Ópera XXI Awards will be held in 2023 at the Teatre Principal in Palma de Mallorca.