Winners of 2016 WhatsOnStage Opera Poll

WhatsOnStage’s opera editor Mark Valencia reveals the winners

Rosa Feola as Elvira with Barry Banks as Arturo in I Puritani (WNO)
Rosa Feola as Elvira with Barry Banks as Arturo in I puritani (WNO)
© Bill Cooper
Results of the fifth annual WhatsOnStage Opera Poll are now in and Welsh National Opera takes the palm this year, winning both Best New Opera Production and Outstanding Achievement in an Operatic Role (Rosa Feola) for its transformative staging of Bellini’s unfashionable I puritani . This production, so thrillingly conducted by Carlo Rizzi, was a triumph for director Annilese Miskimmon. Her imaginative vision breathed new life into what could easily have been a moribund slice of bel canto.

Italian soprano Rosa Feola is an especially exciting category winner because we also championed her last year (in the UK Breakthrough Artist category) for her entrancing performance in La finta giardiniera on the 2014 Glyndebourne Tour.

WNO’s success is shared with English National Opera, who brought Richard Jones’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg back to triumphant life as The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and wins the accolade for Best Opera Revival. Wagner’s comedy gave ENO one of its greatest recent successes just when the company’s internal convulsions were at their most acute.

Tenor Sam Furness beat off formidable competition to be voted Breakthrough Artist in UK Opera, and no one who witnessed either his startling Baron Lummer in Garsington’s splendid Intermezzo or his accomplishing assumption of the title role in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann (for ETO) will need telling that he is an exciting talent on the threshold of a great career.

Finally, few would deny that Glyndebourne richly deserves its accolade for Outstanding Contribution to the UK Operatic Scene. Our visits to the summer’s six operas resulted in three five-star and three four-star reviews – a remarkable tally by any standards. To cap it all, the autumn Glyndebourne Tour managed the impossible when it revived the Festival’s biggest hit of all, Handel’s Saul, and actually improved on it.

The Opera Poll is distinct from its big brother, the WhatsOnStage Awards (whose winners are revealed on Sunday 21 February), in that the shortlist is selected by WhatsOnStage from the best of UK opera that we review. That list is then put to the public vote.

Here are the full results. Hearty congratulations to the winners, runners-up and shortlisted candidates.


Winner: I PURITANI (Welsh National Opera/Annilese Miskimmon)

Runner-up: Saul (Glyndebourne/Barrie Kosky)

Also shortlisted:
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Glyndebourne/David McVicar);
Król Roger (Royal Opera/Kasper Holten);
The Marriage of Figaro (Opera North/Jo Davies);
Il trittico (Opera Holland Park/Martin Lloyd-Evans & Oliver Platt).


Winner: THE MASTERSINGERS OF NUREMBERG (English National Opera/Welsh National Opera)

Runner-up: L’amore dei tre Re (Opera Holland Park)

Also shortlisted:
Don Pasquale (Glyndebourne Tour);
Jenůfa (Opera North);
Ravel Double Bill (Glyndebourne);
Tristan und Isolde (Royal Opera).


Winner: ROSA FEOLA (I puritani/Welsh National Opera)

Runner-up: Henry Waddington (Saul/Glyndebourne Tour)

Also shortlisted:
Mariusz Kwiecień (Król Roger/Royal Opera);
Rachel Nicholls (Tristan und Isolde/Longborough Festival Opera);
Iain Paterson (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg/English National Opera);
Nina Stemme (Tristan und Isolde/Royal Opera).


Winner: SAM FURNESS (Intermezzo/Garsington Opera The Tales of Hoffmann/English Touring Opera)

Runner-up: Tamara Wilson (The Force of Destiny/English National Opera)

Also shortlisted:
Janai Brugger (Die Zauberflöte/Royal Opera);
Nicole Car (Carmen/Royal Opera);
Tobias Kehrer (Die Entführung aus dem Serail/Glydnebourne);
Duncan Ward (Conductor, Don Pasquale/Glyndebourne Tour).


Winner: GLYNDEBOURNE for an exceptionally strong Festival 2015

Runner-up: Stephen Barlow (director) and the ensemble company of Flight (Opera Holland Park)

Also shortlisted:
Susan Bickley for a trio of unforgettable performances in Orfeo (Royal Opera), Between Worlds (English National Opera) and Jenůfa (Opera North);
Douglas Boyd for an eye-catching first season as artistic director of Garsington Opera;
Edward Gardner and Mark Wigglesworth for sustained musical excellence in ENO’s music directorship handover;
Anthony Negus for his revelatory conducting of Tristan und Isolde at the Longborough Festival.