The 36th Annual Richard Tucker Gala was on Sunday night. It's one of the events that I most anticipate each year. This year celebrated soprano Angela Meade, the 2011 Richard Tucker Award Winner.
The gala concert is an annual concert to raise money for the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. The Foundation, named after the great American tenor, was founded as a "non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great American tenor through the support and advancement of the careers of talented American opera singers by bringing opera into the community." Each year the Richard Tucker Music Foundation awards cash prizes to individual U.S. born singers. There is no application process, only nomination.
This year once again brought together a plethora of stars: Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Maria Guleghina, Jonas Kaufmann, Yonghoon Lee, Zeljko Lucic, Bryn Terfel, Dolora Zajick, and Keith Miller. Emmanuel Villaume conducted. The New York Choral Society and members of the Metroplitan Opera Orchestra were on hand to provide backup.
The Met Orchestra opened with Camilla Saint-Saens' "Bacchanale" from Samson et Dalila. It's always exciting to hear their virtuoso out of the pit and on a stage. However, a moment of brevity occurred right before Maestro Villaume hit the downbeat with his baton - a cell phone went off. He turned around and stared down the audience.
This concert is always fabulous and as expected, Angela Meade knocked it out of the park. She opened the concert with "Santo di patria" from Atilla. She was joined by Dolora Zajick on the final scene of Act I of Norma (in hopefully what was a preview of a new production at the Met). Angela also joined in on the Finale from Falstaff. It was all quite thrilling - she sounded and looked fabulous. I cannot expound properly what is like to hear her voice - it's all at once enormous, controlled, and above all, beautiful. It's so exciting that she's so young so no doubt, we will hear her for many years to come and no doubt, she will only get better.
Looking utterly dapper in a velvet jacket, and barely 24 hours since singing "The Wonderer" in the Met's Siegfried, Byrn Terfel stole the show with his rendition of "Udite, udite, o rustici" from L'elisir d'amore. He took the stage carrying a bottle of Guinness Stout as his elixer. He eventually set it down on the conductor's podium and produced three Brooklyn Lagers out of his jacket and pants pockets. He gave one to an audience member in the front row and then proceeded to chug one of them. He also gave one to Maestro Villaume, who chugged it as well. He also played up the comedy when he paused and pointed at audience members who were late arriving. It was entirely hysterical (and also quite unfair not to share with us in the 3rd tier).
The ladies fashion winner of the evening was Maria Guleghina who donned a black and white (ostritch?) feather stole around a subtlely sequened black evening gown, with her hair piled into a glamorous couture. She sang an exquisite "Vissi d'Arte" from Tosca.
"Bacchanale" from Samson et Dalila, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
"Santo di patria" Atilla, Angela Meade, Soprano
"Eri tu", Un balllo in mashera Zeljko Lucic, Tenor
"Udite, udite, o rustici" L'elisir d'amore, Bryn Terfel, Bass-baritone, New York Choral Society
"Mamma, quel vino e generso" Cavalleria rusticana, Jonas Kaufmann, Tenor
"Connais-tu le pays" Mignon, Stephanie Blythe, Mezzo-soprano
"Tsar vishnikh sil" The Maid of Orleans, Dolora Zajick, Mezzo-soprano, New York Choral Society
"O Souverain, o juge, o pere" Le Cid, Yonghoon Lee, Tenor
Finale Act I, Norma Angela Meade, Dolora Zajick, Frank Porretta, Tenor, New York Choral Society
Finale, Carmen Anita Rachvelishvili, Mezzo-soprano, Jonas Kaufmann
"Dio, che nell'alma infodere" Don Carlo, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, Keith Miller, Bass, New York Choral Soceity
"Vissi d'arte", Tosca, Maria Ghuleghina, Soprano
"Tu qui, Santuzza?", Cavalleria rusticana, Dolora Zajick, Yonghoon Lee
Finale, Falstaff, Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Angela Meade, Deanna Breiwick, Renee Tatum, Theo LeBow, Ta'u Pupu'a, Edward Parks, Keith Miller, et al.
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