Monday, 18 February 2019


It is the gala event of the season: a star-studded concert and award ceremony presented by the Glenn Gould Foundation and the Canadian Opera Company (COC) will award, this Wednesday, February 20, the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize – the Canadian Foundations' biennial highest honor in recognition of extraordinary artistic and humanitarian contributions to the arts - to American opera legend Jessye Norman.

The beloved septuagenarian proved a dominating force on the operatic stage throughout much of the the 20th century, (and later as a sought-after recitalist) beginning at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1969 as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser.

Norman's vocal range, in it's prime, proved so expansive the diva's voice type - commonly described as a dark, lush, dramatic soprano – was considered by many vocal experts (and remains still), as undefinable: a perfect compliment to the barricade-smashing diva's insistence on not being "pigeon-holed" in the press.

The 73 year old African-American powerhouse will accept the prestigious award as it's 12th recipient Wednesday evening on the stage of Toronto's Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts by Jury chair and American actor Viggo Mortensen during a special gala concert honoring the singer in which Norman's renowned colleagues – including fellow operatic legend Nina Stemme - are slated to perform alongside the COC Orchestra. The entire affair is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm.

Norman will add the Glenn Gould Prize - whose past recipients include Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Canadian singer/songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, and minimalist composer Philip Glass - to an already impressive array of past honors which include, but are not limited to, France's Legion d'honneur, awarded to the songstress in 1989; the American National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor given to artists and patrons, bestowed to Norman in 2009; and the Kennedy Center Honors - then as the youngest recipient in its history, awarded to Jessye in 1997.

There remains, at the time of writing this post, a chance to score seats for this once-in-a lifetime event.

For details and to purchase tickets, visit

Watch below an inpromptu performance by Norman singing Elisabeth's Greeting (Dich Teure Halle) from the opera that launched her critically acclaimed career - Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser:

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