Richard Tucker Music Foundation Names Christian Van Horn as Winner of 2018 Richard Tucker Award

Christian Van Horn
21C Media Group

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation announced today that Christian Van Horn – “one of those treasurable singers in whose presence one can entirely relax, assured that everything he does will be delivered with solid interpretive insight and unfailingly attractive tone” (Opera News) – has been named as the winner of the 2018 Richard Tucker Award. The first bass-baritone to be afforded this honor since 2003 and only the third in the award’s 40-year history, Van Horn is currently accruing a string of credits in starring roles, most recently winning praise as Mephistopheles in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of Faust. Widely referred to as the “Heisman Trophy of Opera,” the Tucker Award carries the foundation’s most substantial cash prize of $50,000 and is conferred each year by a panel of opera industry professionals on an American singer at the threshold of a major international career. Past winners include such luminaries as Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, and Matthew Polenzani. Christian Van Horn will be inducted into this who’s who of American opera at the foundation’s annual gala, a perennial highlight of the opera season, on Sunday, October 21, at Carnegie Hall.

Barry Tucker, who is the president of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and the son of the Brooklyn-born tenor for whom it is named, said:

“We couldn't be more thrilled to have Christian as this year’s Richard Tucker Award-winner. In addition to being a fantastic singer and actor, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. As people in the opera business know, 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 since he first won a Study Grant from the Tucker Foundation 15 years ago. Needless to say, we're excited to see the award go to the third bass in our history, and we look forward to the many great performances he has in his future.”

Reached by phone in Toronto, where he is currently preparing to sing the role of Emperor in The Nightingale at the Canadian Opera Company, Christian Van Horn responded:

“I was on a treadmill at the gym when I received Barry Tucker’s phone call saying I’d won the award. Being 39, it’s not something I was expecting, so I was very surprised, and it’s still sinking in. Receiving this honor means so much because the Tucker Foundation has been there for me since the very beginning. When I won a Sara Tucker Study Grant back in 2003, it both reaffirmed to me that this was something that was going to work and enabled me to survive as a young singer. I am incredibly grateful for Barry and the foundation’s ongoing support; joining this list of legendary singers is a dream come true.”

About Christian Van Horn
Christian Van Horn is, as Opera Wire put it, “well on his way to stardom.” His long association with the foundation dates back to his receipt of a Sara Tucker Study Grant in 2003, in which year he also took first place at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Since then, he has made debuts on many of the world’s great opera stages, where he is now taking on principal roles in major international productions. This season alone, besides starring as Mephistopheles in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new treatment of Faust, he sang his first Enrico in Anna Bolena at the Canadian Opera Company and created the role of Julio in the Metropolitan Opera’s American premiere of The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adés. Next season brings two more important firsts, when the bass-baritone makes debuts at the Paris Opera and in the title role of Mefistofele at the Met.

Other of the world’s foremost opera houses where Van Horn has appeared include Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Rome Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Netherlands Opera, as well as the Salzburg and Munich festivals. Besides undertaking such signature roles as the title character in Le nozze di Figaro, Colline in La bohéme, Banquo in Macbeth, the Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and Escamillo in Carmen, he took part in the world premiere productions of Tan Dun’s Tea: A Mirror of the Soul at Santa Fe Opera and Marco Tutino’s Two Women at San Francisco Opera. Among his most notable concert engagements are recent debuts with the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony and appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle in Salzburg; in the Emerson String Quartet’s “Perspectives” series at Carnegie Hall; and with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Los Angeles, and Melbourne. He has recorded the title role of Le nozze di Figaro for Sony Classical and recently appeared in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast of Falstaff. In addition to winning first place at the 2003 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and receiving a 2003 Sara Tucker Study Grant, his honors include first place at the 2002 MacAllister Competition Collegiate Division, a top prize at the 2002 Liederkranz Foundation Vocal Competition, and the Richman Award from Opera Theatre of St. Louis. A native of Long Island and graduate of Chicago’s Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, Van Horn holds a Master’s in music from Yale University. 

About the Richard Tucker Music Foundation
Founded in 1975, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great Brooklyn-born tenor by nurturing the careers of talented American opera singers and by bringing opera into the community. Through awards, grants for study, performance opportunities and other activities, the foundation provides professional development for singers at various stages of their careers. It also offers free performances in the New York metropolitan area and supports music education enrichment programs. The foundation presents its annual gala featuring a starry lineup of today’s leading opera singers every fall in New York City. Audiences in 125 countries around the world were able to enjoy last year’s gala, which introduced soprano Nadine Sierra as the 2017 Richard Tucker Award-winner, thanks to WQXR 105.9 FM, New York’s classical radio station. Further information about the foundation’s work is available at

Read the New York Times story on the award.