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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Princess of Asturias Awards


Núria Espert, Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts

Actress and stage director Núria Espert has been bestowed with the 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts, as made public today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.


Actress and stage director Núria Espert has been bestowed with the 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts, as made public today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for the Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by José Lladó y Fernández-Urrutia and composed of Bárbara Allende Gil de Biedma, José Luis Cienfuegos Marcello, Marzio Conti, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart Martínez de Irujo, Duke of Alba, Josep María Flotats i Picas, Carmen Giménez Martín, Catalina Luca de Tena y García-Conde, Hans Meinke Paege, Elena Ochoa Foster, Alfredo Pérez de Armiñán y de la Serna, Sandra Rotondo Urcola, Benedetta Tagliabue, Patricia Urquiola Hidalgo, Carlos Urroz Arancibia, Miguel Zugaza Miranda and José Antonio Caicoya Cores (acting secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Teatro Real, Madrid, and Lluis Pasqual, director of the Teatre Lliure, Barcelona.

Núria Espert (Hospitalet de Llobregat, 1935) joined the company of the Romea Theatre, Barcelona, at 12 years of age and debuted in a leading role at the Teatre Orfeó Graciense in 1952. She first came to the public’s attention in 1954 when starring in Medea, in her first national tour with the Teatro de Cámara Company, Barcelona. Together with her husband Armando Moreno, she founded the company that bears her name when she was 24. Since then, her career has taken her to stages all around the world, both as an actress and director, without neglecting her work in film and television.

In addition to her artistic and human sensitivity, Núria Espert has become one of the most outstanding and prolific personalities in the acting world, transcending all theatrical genres thanks to her own particular style and tradecraft as an actress and director. Moreover, her proficiency has made her a model for several generations of professionals, enjoying the respect and admiration of the entire profession. The first production her company staged was Gigi, by Sidonie Gabrielle (Colette), premiered at the Recoletos Theatre, Madrid, in 1959. This was followed by plays by Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Seneca, Euripides, Sartre, Guimerá, Casona, Bertolt Brecht and Shakespeare, among others. She was the first woman to play the role of Hamlet in Spain and she managed to make Sartre’s texts known outside of minor chamber theatre circles. The Maids, by Jean Genet, premiered in 1969 at the Barcelona Poliorama and the Belgrade Festival, where it won the Grand Prix, supposed the springboard for an unprecedented international tour for a Spanish company. In Spain, however, the censors banned the scheduled tour. The same occurred with the premiere of Yerma, by Federico Garcia Lorca, which was suspended several times until obtaining permission in 1971 for its staging at Madrid’s Teatro de la Comedia. This play became her most emblematic production, with which she toured the stages of London, Paris, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Rosario, Cordoba (Argentina), Caracas, Maracaibo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Mexico City, Belgrade, Venice, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Warsaw and Tokyo.

In 1979, she became head of the then newly created National Drama Centre (CDN) for two seasons, directing the programming of the Teatro María Guerrero, which exclusively comprised plays by Spanish authors (Cervantes, Benet i Jornet, Calderón de la Barca, Bergamin, Lorca and Nieva). In 1986, she began to work as stage director in theatre productions and operas such as Madama Butterfly, Electra, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Carmen and Turandot, which she staged at the Liceu, in Barcelona, Covent Garden and the Lyric Hammersmith, in London, Glasgow Royal Theatre, Los Angeles Opera and La Monnaine, in Brussels. In 1990, she resumed acting with the monologue Make-up, directed by Koichi Kimura, while her latest plays as an actress include The Little Foxes (2012) and King Lear (2015).

Holder a honorary degrees from the Menéndez Pelayo International University and Madrid’s Complutense University, Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, she has received Spain’s National Acting Award (1960) and National Theatre Award (1984), the Los Angeles Critics Award (USA, 1972), the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play in London (1986), Sarajevo’s Freedom Award (1995), the Sigismund Award from the Association Stage Directors (1997), the Spanish Union of Actors Lifetime Award (2007), the Valle-Inclán Theatre Award (2010), the Corral de Comedias Award from the Almagro Festival (2011), the Ceres Emerita Augusta Award (2013 ) and Catalonia’s National Culture Award (2015), among others. Holder of the Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts, she has also been awarded the Medal of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, the Band and Gold Star of the City of Belgrade, the Medal of Merit in the Theatre from the Barcelona Provincial Council and the St George’s Cross from the Generalitat of Catalonia. As stated in the Statutes of the Foundation, the Princess of Asturias Awards are aimed at rewarding “the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. In keeping with these principles, the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts shall be conferred on those “whose work in cinematography, theatre, dance, music, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture or any other form of artistic expression constitutes an outstanding contribution to the universal heritage of humanity”.

This year a total of forty candidatures from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Mauritania, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain ran for the award.

This is the first of eight Princess of Asturias Awards, which are being bestowed this year for the thirty-sixth time. The rest of awards will be announced in the coming weeks in the following order: Communication and Humanities, Social Sciences, Technical and Scientific Research, Sports, Literature and International Cooperation, with the Award for Concord being announced in September.

Each of the Princess of Asturias Awards comprises a Joan Miró sculpture –representing and symbolizing the Awards–, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by TM The King and Queen of Spain.

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