Soprano Leah Hawkins named the Met’s 2024 Beverly Sills Artist Award winner

New York, NY (May 28, 2024)—The Metropolitan Opera has named soprano Leah Hawkins the winner of the 2024 Beverly Sills Artist Award. The annual $50,000 award recognizes extraordinarily gifted singers with rising Met careers. Established in 2006 by an endowment gift from the late Agnes Varis, a former Met board member, and her husband, Karl Leichtman, the award is given in honor of legendary American soprano Beverly Sills.

An alumna of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Hawkins made her Met debut in Suor Angelica in 2018. During the 2023–24 season, she sang the principal role of Louise/Betty in the Met premiere of Anthony Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, after also appearing as a soloist in Verdi’s Requiem. She is scheduled to perform on June 18 at SummerStage in Central Park and on June 20 at Brooklyn Bridge Park as part of the Met’s 2024 Summer Recital Series. Her other Met roles have included the Priestess in Aida, Strawberry Woman in Porgy and Bess, Masha in The Queen of Spades, and Musetta in La Bohème.

“I am extremely honored and grateful to be the 2024 recipient of the Beverly Sills Award and to join this incredible group of recipients, all of whom I deeply admire and respect. From the moment I began the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, I’ve felt the love and support of the entire company,” Hawkins said. “I am in awe of the legacy of Ms. Sills, whose vocal, artistic, and social prowess continue to inspire us all. I hope that my passion for people and my love for singing reflect the brilliance she inspired not only in my own life, but in those she touched on stage and off.”

Additional performance highlights include Giorgetta in Il Tabarro at Dutch National Opera; Louise/Betty at Seattle Opera; the title role of Tosca at the Santa Fe Opera and Opera Memphis; the Foreign Princess in Rusalka at Pittsburgh Opera; the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos at Arizona Opera; Mrs. Johannes “Ma” Zegner in the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up and Justice at the Opera with late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Washington National Opera; Desdemona in the world premiere of Marina Abramović’s 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at the Bavarian State Opera and at the Paris Opera; recitals at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Park Avenue Armory, and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg; and Verdi’s Requiem with the Colorado Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Hawkins was the recipient of the 2023 Marian Anderson Award, a 2022 Richard Tucker Career Grant, and the 2021 Women in Classical Music Career Advancement Award from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, nominated by Renée Fleming. 

The Beverly Sills Artist Award was created to help further the careers of rising stars by providing additional funding for vocal coaching, language study, travel costs, and other professional expenses. Sills, who died in 2007, was well known as a supporter and friend to developing young artists, and this award continues her legacy as an advocate for important emerging singers.

The award has been presented to an outstanding roster of previous winners: baritone Nathan Gunn in 2006, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in 2007, tenor Matthew Polenzani in 2008, bass-baritone John Relyea in 2009, soprano Susanna Phillips in 2010, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard in 2011, soprano Angela Meade in 2012, tenor Bryan Hymel in 2013, tenor Michael Fabiano in 2014, baritone Quinn Kelsey in 2015, soprano Ailyn Pérez in 2016, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton in 2017, soprano Nadine Sierra in 2018, soprano Lisette Oropesa in 2019, and soprano Angel Blue in 2020. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its devasting economic impact on singers, five recipients received the award in 2021, including sopranos Erin Morley and Brenda Rae, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, tenor Ben Bliss, and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green. Baritone Will Liverman received the award in 2022. Ryan Speedo Green received the honor a second time in 2023.