Edward Nelson, 31, grew up in a non-musical family, with the exception of
his uncle who used to take him to concerts. Growing up he took part in a
variety of performing arts including jazz, classical piano and musical
theatre before dedicating himself to opera. He recently made an acclaimed
European debut at Norwegian National Opera as PellÈas in Debussy’s PellÈas et MÈlisande after learning the role in just four weeks.
During the Glyndebourne Opera Cup final, Nelson performed two dramatic
arias from Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet before sealing his win with a
spectacular performance of the show-stopping ‘Largo al factotum’ aria from The Barber of Seville.
He was presented with his prize by Dame Janet Baker, the competition’s
honorary president, who sat on the prestigious jury alongside fellow opera
legends Sumi Jo, Sir Thomas Allen, and Dame Felicity Lott and top industry
professionals. The competition was produced for Sky Arts by Factory Films
and was presented by Chris Addison and Danielle de Niese.
As part of Glyndebourne’s commitment to diversity in the Glyndebourne Opera
Cup, Sky Arts offered a bursary for BAME and Financially Disadvantaged
contestants, which was claimed by a quarter of the singers who reached the
semi-finals and a third of the finalists.
Six singers competed at the final for the top prize of £15,000 and the
guarantee of a role within five years at one of the top international opera
houses represented on the competition’s jury. They were accompanied by the
London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the up-and-coming Canadian
conductor Jordan de Souza.
Second Place went to British soprano Alexandra Lowe, 28, while taking Third
Place was American tenor, Eric Ferring, 27.
The Audience Prize, voted on by the live audience at Glyndebourne, was
awarded to Chinese soprano Meigui Zhang, 26, and the Ginette Theano Prize
for Most Promising Talent, was presented to South Africa mezzo-soprano
The Glyndebourne Youth Jury, made up of young singers aged 16-21 who have
taken part in Glyndebourne talent development and youth opera programmes,
awarded their prize for the most engaging and communicative performance to
South Korean tenor Sungho Kim.
Stephen Langridge, Glyndebourne’s Artistic Director and chair of The
Glyndebourne Opera Cup jury, said: ‘All of the finalists performed to an
extremely high standard but Edward Nelson’s dramatic flair and vocal
elegance set him apart on the night and made him our worthy winner.’
Dame Janet Baker, honorary president of The Glyndebourne Opera Cup, said:
‘Sometimes the differences between talented singers are very small indeed;
this was the case tonight. Both the semi final and the final stages
produced technical singing of quality and all the singers involved can go
home with heads held high knowing they have done themselves justice.’
The final of The Glyndebourne Opera Cup was broadcast live on Sky Arts and
is available to watch on demand.
product_title=2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup
product_id=Above: Edward Johnson
Photo credit: Richard Hubert Smith