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NEA Opera Honors

The 2010 recipients of the NEA Opera Honors were saluted for "their exceptional contributions to opera in America" Friday night at the Kennedy Center during a ceremony that was "called to order" by Supreme Court Justice and devoted opera fan Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Naturally, we in Baltimore are particularly pleased that native son Philip Glass was among the celebrated.

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The composer has been shaking up operatic conventions for decades, both with his unmistakable brand of minimalism and his eclectic choice of subject matter.

The finale of his stunning "Satyagraha" was performed bytenor Sean Panikkar during Friday's ceremony, a cooperative production of the NEA, Washington National Opera and Opera America. Metropolitan Opera artistic manager Sarah Billinghurst presented the award to Glass.

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Fans of opera singing had to be heartened to see soprano

Martina Arroyo in the select group as well; her sumptuous tone and vibrant personality made her one of the most exciting vocal artists of her time. And it's great to see that she's passing along her wisdom to new generations through the efforts of her Martina Arroyo Foundation. Notable jazz musician Paquito D’Rivera presented the award to Arroyo; soprano Tamara Wilson sang an aria from Verdi's Ernani.

Also on the honors was Eve Queler, who has championed many a neglected opera and many a rising vocal artist as music director of the Opera Orchestra of New York, and David DiChiera, whose imaginative direction of various companies, particularly Michigan Opera Theatre, has earned him industry-wide admiration.

PHOTO BY TONY BROWN/IMIJINATION

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