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Keenlyside wins opera prize

Published 17 April 2008

Baritone Simon Keenlyside has been given the Outstanding Achievement in Opera Laurence Olivier Award in recognition of his performance in two major roles last year.

Keenlyside headed the cast as Winston in 1984, the new opera based on George Orwell’s famous novel. With a score by Lorin Maazel, lyrics by J D McClatchy and Thomas Meehan and direction by Robert Lepage, 1984 was eagerly awaited when it opened in May 2005 at the Royal Opera House.

Late last year Keenlyside also played the title role in the ENO production of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd, adapted from the novel by Herman Melville, at the London Coliseum. Directed by Neil Armfield and conducted by Andrew Litton, Billy Budd also starred John Tomlinson and Timothy Robinson.

Keenlyside was not able to collect his Laurence Olivier Award at the ceremony. Instead tenor Toby Spence was on hand to accept the statuette on Keenlyside's behalf.

English National Opera was sure to win, as it was involved in every nomination in both opera categories. In the Outstanding Achievement category Keenlyside beat nominees Sarah Connolly for her performance in ENO’s La Clemenza Di Tito, David McVicar for his direction of the same production and the husband and wife team Anthony Minghella and Carolyn Choa for their direction and choreography of the ENO’s Madam Butterfly.

CB

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