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Robert Presley was a much-loved founding member of Fulham Opera.

He was a Verdi enthusiast and sang many Verdi roles throughout his career, and was our Alberich in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, and Fulham Opera is proud to credit him with having the idea of staging Der Ring.

Money has been given in his name to begin a bi-annual Verdi Singing Prize, for which there is no age limit.

The 2021 Prize will be announced in March 2021.

The Judges and Prizewinners: The 2019 Fulham Opera Robert Presley Memorial Verdi Prize

The Judges and Prizewinners: The 2019 Fulham Opera Robert Presley Memorial Verdi Prize

The Fulham Opera Robert Presley Memorial Verdi Prize

The 2019 Competition took place on Sunday 6th October in the David Josefowitz Recital Hall at the Royal Academy of Music.

The judges were Richard Hetherington (Head of Music, Royal Opera House), John Rawnsley (ENO’s Rigoletto in the 1980s among many Verdi roles) and Gweneth Ann Rand (ENO’s Aida in their most recent production).

The Winner was Canadian soprano Leah Gordon, who sang “Dich teurer Halle” from Wagner’s Tanhäuser, as well as “Ernani, involami” and “Morrò ma prima in grazia” from Verdi’s Ernani and Ballo in Maschera respectively.

The Runner Up was South Korean tenor Jihan Shin, who sang “Ingemisco” from the Requiem and “Lunge da lei” from La traviata, as well as “È la solita storia del pastore” from Cilea’s L’arlesiana.

The Judges’ Discretionary Prize for the most promising Verdi baritone, as well as the Audience Prize, went to Louis Hurst, who sang “Cortigiani” from Rigoletto, and Roderigo’s death scene, from Don Carlo.



The 2017 competition was won by Nicola Said (soprano), who also won the audience prize.  The runner up was Siv Iren Misund (mezzo), and the Judges’ Discretionary Prize went to tenor Satriya Krisna.

The Judges were David Syrus (Head of Music, Royal Opera House), John Rawnsley (ENO’s legendary Rigoletto) and Pamela Kuhn (US Spinto soprano, Aida for Scottish Opera).

The 2015 competition was won by Nadine Benjamin (soprano). The runner up was Alberto Sousa, who also won the audience prize. The Judges’ Discretionary Prize went to Benjamin Lewis.

The Judges were Sir Thomas Allen (patron), David Syrus and Yvonne Howard (“Verdi” mezzo).

Images from the 2017 competition, at Conway Hall