One of opera’s top honors, the $50,000 Richard Tucker Award has been given to soprano Nadine Sierra, a distinguished alumna of S.F. Opera’s Merola and Adler Programs, who is now triumphing in major opera houses. At 28, Sierra has starring roles at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Paris Opera, Berlin Staatsoper, and Zürich Opera.
The Richard Tucker Music Foundation honors the memory of the great American tenor, one of the Met’s biggest stars. Previous Tucker awardees include Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, and Joyce DiDonato. Sierra has been recognized and received support from the foundation three times now. She previously received a 2010 Sara Tucker Study Grant and a 2013 Richard Tucker Career Grant.
Among recipients of the Tucker Study Grants, also announced today, are countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, a finalist in this year's Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions, bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum, and mezzo Taylor Raven.
Barry Tucker, president of the foundation and son of the tenor, said of the award to Sierra:
We are elated to have Nadine as our 2017 Richard Tucker Award winner. Having known her since she was an undergraduate in college and been in awe of her talents even back then, I could not be more impressed by how she has developed as a singer. She possesses an artistic maturity that is well beyond her years and is destined to be a leading light of the opera world.
Sierra was the youngest winner ever of both the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition. She made her San Francisco Opera debut in 2011 in two roles in Christopher Theofanidis’s Heart of a Soldier, and later appeared as Papagena in The Magic Flute, Musetta in La Bohème, and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. She replaced Diana Damrau in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor in 2015.
The soprano of Portuguese, Puerto Rican, and Italian heritage is a Fort Lauderdale native. She started working with César Ulloa as a teenager in Florida, where she made her professional debut with the Palm Beach Opera. Ulloa is now chair of the S.F. Conservatory of Music’s Voice Department.