AMSTERDAM - Opera singer Tania Kross has been awarded the 2023 Johannes Vermeer Award in Amsterdam. The Dutch state prize is considered one of the most prestigious awards for arts and culture.
"With this award, I get an enormous boost to make my dreams come true," said Kross at the presentation. One of those dreams is to build a theater in Curaçao, where she currently resides. Over twenty years ago, it was destroyed by a major fire.
The mezzo-soprano from Curaçao is praised by the jury for her international singing career and how she makes opera popular for a wide audience. Acting State Secretary Gunay Uslu presented the award to Kross.
In the audience were teachers, conductors, and other individuals Kross has collaborated with. She thanked them extensively, saying, "People often don't realize how much work goes into extracting the essence of the music."
Kross has achieved a lot, such as being the first person to create an opera in Papiamento: " di Shon," based on the book by Cola Debrot. "Almost unique in opera history," noted the jury.
Kross Wins €100,000 With the award, Tania Kross receives €100,000. She mentions wanting to invest this in a small theater and music lessons for children.
"I am not at all special in Curaçao. There many Tania's walking around in Curaçao," she says. "With this amount, I can give people in that small theater the opportunity to develop themselves for the theater."
The small theater will be set up in an old hall currently used for storage in a retirement home.
Progress in Tania Kross' Theater Plan
Kross is making strides in her plan for a theater. She has been granted a plot of land by Curaçao Airport Holding to build it. "I have to get this done. It won't be because of me!"
"I hope your dream comes true, and I have a lot of confidence in that," says Acting State Secretary Uslu. "Because something else caught my attention during my stay in Curaçao. The women: they rule Curaçao! And you are a wonderful example of that."
First Caribbean Winner It is the first time that a Dutch person from the Caribbean parts of our Kingdom has received the Johannes Vermeer Award. Various artists from Curaçao thank her in a video for her achievements.
"I am bursting with pride!" says singer and presenter Giovanca. "Curaçao is super proud of you. You should know that!"
pianist and composer Randal Corsen, also a good friend of Kross, thanks her for what she has achieved for the island. "It shows us that hard work, dedication, and discipline in the music world take us very far."
Exhibition in The Hague
With the award, Kross has also been able to open her own exhibition about her work at the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science. It can be viewed for free until mid-2024.
It shows how her Curaçao background has fueled her music career. "Curaçao is music," says Uslu. "The music there, you truly feel in every cell of your body. I experienced that when I stayed there."
What Kross does with opera is "sing, feel, and pass on all those songs," says Uslu. "So that they are preserved and have meaning for new generations."