New York, NY (revised September 12, 2007) – Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Opera, and New York City Opera will present A Tribute to Beverly Sills, a free public event dedicated to the memory of the great soprano, on September 16, 2007 at 5:00 p.m. at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Sills, one of the most popular figures in the history of opera and a champion of the performing arts, died on July 2, 2007 at the age of 78.
Artists scheduled to perform at the event include soprano Natalie Dessay, tenor Plácido Domingo, soprano Anna Netrebko, and bass-baritone John Relyea (replacing Nathan Gunn, who withdrew due to illness). Met Music Director James Levine and Director of Music Administration Craig Rutenberg will play the piano.
Speakers at the event will include Susan Baker, Chairman of the Board of New York City Opera; Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Chairman of Lincoln Center; Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; Carol Burnett; Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera; Henry Kissinger; Nathan Leventhal, former President of Lincoln Center; Julius Rudel, conductor and former General Director of New York City Opera; Stanley Sills, brother of Ms. Sills; and Barbara Walters.
Tickets to A Tribute to Beverly Sills will be free of charge and available at the Metropolitan Opera box office on a first-come, first-served basis starting at noon on September 16 (limit two tickets per person). The tribute will be heard on Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius, the 24-hour satellite radio channel, and streamed live via RealNetworks at www.metopera.org. The radio program will begin at 4:30 p.m. with recordings featuring the late soprano, followed by the live program from the Metropolitan Opera House stage at 5 p.m.
The musical program will feature Handel’s “Ombra mai fu” from Serse, sung by Plácido Domingo with James Levine at the piano, and three art songs with Craig Rutenberg as pianist: Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Nightingale and the Rose (Oriental Romance)” sung by Anna Netrebko; Schubert’s “An die Musik” sung by John Relyea; and Richard Strauss’s “Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden” sung by Natalie Dessay.
A renowned coloratura soprano and a popular media personality in America, Beverly Sills lent her fame, energy, and business acumen to promote the cause of opera and the performing arts following her celebrated singing career. Among other prominent roles, she served as General Director of the New York City Opera; Chairman of Lincoln Center; and Managing Director, Chairman, and Chairman Emerita of the Board of the Directors of the Metropolitan Opera.
At the New York City Opera
The New York City Opera, where Ms. Sills first achieved international celebrity, and with which she was affiliated as prima donna, General Director, and board member for well over three decades, will officially launch its celebrations of her life and legacy on Saturday, October 27, at the opening matinee of its new production of Massenet's Cendrillon. It was at the City Opera premiere of Cendrillon in 1983 that Ms. Sills first introduced supertitles to American opera audiences. The October 27 Cendrillon matinee, dedicated to Ms. Sills’s memory, will be followed by a brief musical tribute, a toast, and a gathering of past and present City Opera company members, some of whom will offer reminiscences. At this time, New York City Opera will launch ongoing opportunities for the public to offer personal tributes to Ms. Sills and will announce further initiatives in her memory.
At the Metropolitan Opera
The Met will dedicate both its free Open House (the final dress rehearsal of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and related events on September 20) and its season-opening performance of that opera (September 24) to Ms. Sills. On February 9, as part of the 2007-08 Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera Radio broadcast season, the Met will air Rossini’s L’Assedio di Corinto (The Siege of Corinth), a performance that features Ms. Sills in her Met broadcast debut on April 19, 1975. Last season, Ms. Sills was a regular presence on the live HD and radio broadcasts, offering both commentary and conducting backstage artist interviews. The Met’s annual Beverly Sills Artist Award, given to a young singer on the Met roster for the purpose of artistic career development, will continue; the annual award of $50,000 is funded by an endowment gift from Agnes Varis, a managing director of the Met Board, and her husband Karl Leichtman, in tribute to Ms. Sills’s many accomplishments in the arts.
At Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Chairman of the Board of Lincoln Center from 1994-2002, Beverly Sills was the first woman and professional musician to serve in that position. Her tireless championship of the arts and irresistible personal warmth raised millions of dollars for Lincoln Center. She oversaw the beginning of Lincoln Center Festival and the American Songbook series during her tenure, as well as early plans for Lincoln Center’s current redevelopment projects. Ms. Sills was a major force in popularizing the performing arts in general and opera in particular through her numerous network television appearances, highlighted by many years as featured performer on and then as host of Live From Lincoln Center, which last week included a tribute to her.