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“The Time of Our Singing”, by the Belgian Kris Defoort, and “Upload”, by the Dutch Michel van der Aa, award-winning contemporary operas.

The ninth annual International Opera Awards ceremony took place last night for the first time at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Founded in 2013 by John Allison, editor of Opera Magazine, and entrepreneur and philanthropist Harry Hyman, they aim to celebrate excellence in opera and raise the profile of opera as an art form internationally.

The awards are presented each year in twenty categories. The only categories awarded this year to contemporary operas were the World Premiere Award and the Digital Opera Award. In the first case, the prize went to The Time of Our Singing by Belgian composer Kris Defoort (Bruges, 1959), an opera premiering at La Monnaie/De Munt in Brussels on 14 September 2021, based on the novel of the same title by American writer Richard Powers, published in 2003.

The prize for Digital Opera went to Upload, by Dutch composer Michel van der Aa. Premiered on 29 July 2021 at the Bregenz Festival and produced by the Dutch National Opera, Upload tells the story of a daughter and her father who, in the face of his inevitable death, has his thoughts and memories uploaded to achieve an eternal digital consciousness. The deeply moving work raises old philosophical questions about destiny, identity, the cost of immortality and the ethics of technological advances – the play explores how life could become eternal in the digital sphere – which take on new meaning against the backdrop of current and future technologies.

© Photograph by Bernd Uhlig from the opera The Time of Our Singing, downloaded from the La Monnaie/De Munt website.