Director Peter Sellars has won a special award along with four of the world's finest singers.
On Sunday, the Opera News Awards went to the American theater whiz, and to Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, German soprano Anja Silja, Swedish baritone Peter Mattei and Finnish soprano Karita Mattila.
Sellars says he "took the starch out of the Bugs Bunny version of opera" with productions like the wrenching story of how the nuclear bomb was created in John Adam's Grammy award-winning "Dr. Atomic."
With his trademark hair shooting straight up, Sellars accepted the award at Manhattan's Plaza hotel. He deadpanned to the bejeweled fans, "Nothing in my life prepared me for this ballroom."
The opera magazine honored stars of an art form Sellars says still expresses today's emotions, "here and now."