The award, which supports the winner's research, carries a purse of $1.5 million.
Gossett is considered one of the world's top experts in Italian opera composers Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi. He says he will use the award to advance his new definitive critical editions of Rossini's and Verdi's work, a project that involves searching the world for original published manuscripts: some inappropriately edited to reflect popular tastes: and reconciling them in order to come as close as possible to the composers' intentions. Gossett has already been working on these editions for 20 years, completing 12 of 33 projected volumes for Verdi and over 30 of 70 projected volumes for Rossini.
The scholar's work also includes advising opera companies on their productions and coaching singers such as Ren_e Fleming, Marilyn Horne, and Samuel Ramey in specific roles. In the past he has appeared on radio broadcasts of operas explaining the work's histories.
Gossett is the author of Anna Bolena and The Maturity of Gaetano Donizetti. His Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera will appear early next year.
Gossett did not know he was being considered for the award. "I opened [the notification letter] up and said, 'Oh my God,'" Gossett told the Sun-Times, "and then I went and taught my class. What else do you do?"