31 May 2006

Sheffield graduate wins top singing prize

A former student at the University of Sheffield has won the prestigious first prize in the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Awards for young British singers. Elizabeth Watts studied archaeology at the University of Sheffield and graduated in 2001.

She then won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where she studied with Lilian Watson on the Advanced Opera studies course at the Benjamin Britten International Opera School. She graduated in 2005 with distinction and the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Rose Bowl, awarded annually for outstanding achievement.

The Kathleen Ferrier Awards started in 1956, in memory of Kathleen Ferrier, a contralto from Lancashire who died at the age of 41, and whose career as a singer lasted just 12 years. Each year since then, the awards have continued to provide a few outstandingly talented singers with the opportunity of making a start in a difficult and demanding career.

Elizabeth Watts has now joined the English National Opera as a company artist in the ENO Young Singers' programme, and made her debut as Papagena (Die Zauberflote). Her roles this season include Music and Hope in Orfeo and a role in King Arthur - a new production in collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Company.

Elizabeth said, "I am absolutely thrilled to have won this award as it's something I have been working towards for a long time. When I look down the list of previous winners I can only hope my career might follow a similar path, having come to singing from a somewhat unorthodox route!"