Neuwirth wins Grawemeyer Award for Orlando

Neuwirth wins Grawemeyer Award for Orlando

Olga Neuwirth has won the 2022 Grawemeyer Award for her opera Orlando. The University of Louisville (Kentucky, USA) has granted the award annually since 1985 for an exceptional work by a composer from anywhere on Earth. With a cash prize of 100,000 USD, it is the highest endowed prize for a work of contemporary music.

Orlando, based on the novel of the same name by Virginia Woolf, was the first work commissioned by the Vienna State Opera in its 150-year history by a woman. It premiered on 8 December 2019 and was subsequently named "World Premiere of the Year" by Opernwelt magazine.

The libretto, after the novel by Virginia Woolf, was written by Catherine Filloux and Olga Neuwirth. It continues where the story ends chronologically into the present day and illuminates the central themes of intertwining gender identity, love and artistic creativity. "I wanted to reflect the wonderful diversity of life and portray a subtle form of sexual attraction that can't be pinned down to one gender. Moreover, the main character refuses to be patronized and condescended to, something that happens to women again and again, with no end in sight," the composer writes.

The Grawemeyer director Marc Satterwhite's citation states, among other things: "Orlando is an enormous, highly ambitious work. The libretto and multi-faceted score challenge our preconceptions about gender and sexual roles and test our notions of what opera is and is not."

Find out more about Orlando in our blog article.

Photo: Priska Ketterer Luzern