13th EOP final

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And the winner is…

The final round of the 13th EOP – European Opera-directing Prize took place on the first weekend in August 2023 in Birmingham. The host was the BOC – Birmingham Opera Company, an opera institution with a permanent ensemble but without its own house.

On the studio stage of the public library, all four teams had to work with four of the BOC singers on a scene of Bedřich Smetana’s Two Widows (Dvě vdovy) in front of a jury of five. Based on their interpretations of the opera and their directing concepts that had won them the final round, all of them had to prepare the same scene. While their individual directing concepts had been the focus of the semi-finals, their work with the singers was the main focus for the jury on the day of the finals.

Two special features characterized the 13th EOP:

On the one hand, there was the requirement to create a director’s concept for a reduced mobile version of the opera, so that the production could go on tour with a reduced orchestra and ensemble and be performed flexibly at various venues that were not expressly intended for opera performances. The result was the platform RMO – reduced mobile opera.

As a second special feature, the finalists in the final round had to work with eight amateur actors, so-called volunteers. This idea is based on the concept of the BOC, and the finished production will also involve people from the respective city in its performances.


At the end of the performances the jury announced the winner of the 13. EOP – European Opera-directing Prize:

The four singers of the BOC-Ensemble together with the eight amateur artists volunteers


1. Preis
Lorenzo Ponte (IT) Director
With Alice Benazzi, set design
and Guilia Rossena, costume design
Staging of Zwei Witwen (Dvě vdovy), Bedřich Smetana
and 25.000 EUR towards the production costs


„We were laughing all the time. So it wasn’t a sort of sad end-of-life view, quite on the contrary: it was feisty people, still fighting for their existence and their rights and their humanity. It’s a very inspiring, humorous project,“ said juror Karen Stone, Director of Opera Europa, explaining the jury’s unanimous decision.

The First Night will take place on the 20th June 2024 on the occasion of the composer’s 200th birthday as part of the Smetana Festival in his birthplace Litomyšl in the Czech Republic and will be performed several times in Prague between the 5th-10th November 2024. The BOC – Birmingham Opera Company has taken over the task of production. In 2025, if circumstances allow, this production will then be performed at the Lviv Opera, Ukraine. The Wiesbaden International May Festival has also expressed its interest in 2025.

To find out more about this particular interpretation of Two widows (excerpts) please click here

For more information about Lorenzo Ponte please click here

To find out more about the Smetana Festival in Litomyšl, please click here

The winning team (from left to right): Guilia Rossena, Alice Benazzi, Lorenzo Ponte


Lorenzo Ponte and Alice Benazzi at the rehearsal, introducing their ideas around the production and set design to the artists.


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Verena Silcher (Special Award) and Richard Willacy, Artistic Director of the Birmingham Opera Company
Special Award
Verena Silcher (GER) Director
With Elena Stranghöner, set design
10.000 EUR for advanced training at the Birmingham Opera Company – either an assistantship on a large project by Peter Sellars or a small production of their own.

The 2nd and 3rd prizes were not awarded.

In the run-upto the 13th EOP – European Opera-directing Prize applications from a total of 91 young artists in 46 teams and 18 nationalities worldwide were received. Twelve young up-and-coming opera directors under the age of 35 years made it to the semi-finals, from which the four finalists were chosen. The other two finalists were Benedikt Arnold (D) and Chiara Osella (IT) with Eleonora Peronetti, set design.


The finalists and their teams: Lorenzo Ponte, Chiara Osella, Benedikt Arnold, Verena Silcher

The EOP panel of judges consists of renowned artistic directors as well as distinguished opera stage directors. For the 13th EOP these are:


Barbara Minghetti, Director of Teatro Sociale di Como and Artistic Director of Festival Verdi of Parma (Chair)
Karen Stone, Director of Opera Europa
Aleš Březina, Director of Smetana Festival
Richard Willacy, Director of BOC, Birmingham Opera Company
Vasyl Vovkun, Director of Lviv National Opera


Every two years the Camerata Nuova invites tenders for the EOP-European Opera-directing Prize, in collaboration with one European Opera House as well as Opera Europa, an association of more than 230 opera houses and festivals. The EOP is the major competition for young  opera directors with the widest international reach.

(c) Fotos and video: Claudia Bathe. Rights Camerata Nuova.

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