The Richard Tucker Music Foundation holds its 37th annual gala, one of the most highly anticipated events of the opera season, tonight, November 11 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York's Lincoln Center. Soprano Ailyn Pérez, winner of the 2012 Richard Tucker Award and the first Latina singer to be so honored, joins a dazzling array of special guests – including baritones Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Gerald Finley; mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina; tenor Marcello Giordani; bass Ildar Abdrazakov; bass-baritone Erwin Schrott; and many more – in a program of favorite arias and ensembles, including selections by Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Massenet, Mascagni, Handel, and Wagner. Maestro Patrick Summers, Artistic and Music Director of Houston Grand Opera, leads the lineup of luminaries, supported by members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Choral Society.
Tickets for this year's event, which is being made possible in part by the generous support of Cadillac, range from $40 to $500 and are on sale to the public on the Richard Tucker Music Foundation's recently redeveloped web site, www.richardtucker.org, as well as at www.lincolncenter.org, by calling CenterCharge (212) 721-6500, or at the Avery Fisher Hall box office. Seats at the gala dinner on the Grand Promenade that follows the concert can be arranged by contacting the foundation's offices at (212) 757-2218.
Those unable to attend the star-studded performance will be happy to learn that it is returning to television for the first time since 2007; the concert will be filmed for delayed national broadcast in the U.S. as part of PBS's Emmy Award-winning "Live From Lincoln Center" series on Thursday, December 13. Hosted by five-time Tony Award-winning singer and actress Audra McDonald, the telecast will feature mini-documentaries in addition to the musical performance.
Founded in 1975, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great Brooklyn-born tenor by nurturing the careers of talented American opera singers and bringing opera into the community. Through awards, grants for study, performance opportunities, and other activities, the Foundation provides professional development for singers at each stage of their careers. The Foundation also offers free performances in the New York Metropolitan area and supports music education enrichment programs.
The Foundation's most substantial prize is the annual Richard Tucker Award: $30,000 given to an artist judged to be on the threshold of a major international career, with previous award winners including Renée Fleming, David Daniels, Joyce DiDonato, Deborah Voigt, Lawrence Brownlee, and Angela Meade. The winner of the 2012 award is soprano Ailyn Pérez, who continues to gain momentum as one of America's fastest-rising talents as she heads into a season packed with many of opera's best-loved heroines: Puccini's Mimì, Mozart's Countess, Verdi's Violetta, and Donizetti's Adina; Opera News writes: "The phrase 'an embarrassment of riches' might have been invented to describe the combination of talents that belong to Ailyn Pérez." Born in Chicago to first-generation Mexican immigrants, Pérez is the first Hispanic singer to receive the Tucker Award in its 34-year history. What is more, her husband, tenor Stephen Costello, won in 2009, making the couple dubbed "America's fastest-rising husband-and-wife opera stars" (Associated Press) the first to have not one, but two Richard Tucker Awards on the mantelpiece.