The BBC Symphony Orchestra became the first organisation of its kind to be presented with the honour following its performance of Martinu’s opera Juliette in March 2009.
According to the BBC, the orchestra fought off strong competition to be presented with the prize, with judges describing its rendition of the opera as a “musically outstanding performance”.
The annual awards show is generally considered to be the most prestigious of its kind celebrating live classical music. A total of 13 separate categories, decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners, can be won.
Having built up a strong reputation for staging concert opera in past years, the award is recognition for the hard work put in by those involved in the production. Other performances in recent times include John Adams’s The Death Of Klinghoffer (2002) and Wagner’s Tristan Und Isolde (2002-03).
Paul Hughes, general manager of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, expressed his delight at the presentation of the accolade, telling the news providers: “To be shortlisted for two RPS awards amongst such illustrious company is exciting enough, but to win the award for opera and music theatre is amazing – and historical that the award has never gone to an orchestra before.
“A commitment to opera is central to our programming and for that to be recognised by this award is just the most thrilling conclusion to what has been a great season.”
Opera fans will be able to enjoy a plethora of new material on the BBC after the broadcaster recently announced a major new collection of programmes celebrating the genre.