The prestigious Richard Tucker Award often goes to highflying sopranos, like Nadine Sierra and Renée Fleming, or to acrobatic tenors like Michael Fabiano and Lawrence Brownlee.
He is just the third bass-baritone to be awarded in the prize’s 40-year history. The award comes with a cash prize of $50,000 and a celebratory performance at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 21.
At 39, Van Horn is significantly older than past winners. Sierra, who won last year, is currently 29. But there’s a good reason for this discrepancy: “It takes a long time for a low voice like his to mature, and it’s been a privilege to watch and hear him grow,” Barry Tucker, the president of the foundation (and the son of the award’s namesake), said in a statement.
Van Horn has performed with opera companies across the globe, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, the Bavarian State Opera and the Netherlands Opera. He won first place at the 2003 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
This year, Van Horn has performances scheduled with the Canadian Opera Company and Opera Philadelphia before he returns to the Met Opera in November to play the diabolical title character in Boito’s “Mefistofele.” And in December he will stay at the Met to revisit the role of Colline in “La Bohème.” In a 2014 New York Times review, Anthony Tommasini wrote that his portrayal of Colline “reveals his sturdy voice and commanding presence.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.