Metropolitan Opera Guild to Honor Music Director James Levine at Annual Luncheon, 11/11
On Monday, November 11, the Metropolitan Opera Guild's 79th Annual Luncheon presents "Welcome Home, Jimmy!" to salute music directorJames Levine on his triumphant return to the Met podium. A perennial highlight of the opera season, the luncheon will bring together a host of artists who have collaborated with the preeminent conductor over the course of his long and celebrated Met tenure, as well as opera fans and an array of New York's society, business, and civic leaders. "Welcome Home, Jimmy!" will feature musical tributes by Dolora Zajick, "a mezzo in a class by herself" (New York Times); Thomas Hampson, "America's foremost baritone" (International Herald Tribune); and Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone Eric Owens, all accompanied by the Met's Director of Music Administration, Craig Rutenberg. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Guild's education programs in New York City and throughout the country.
According to Guild President Richard J. Miller, Jr.: "The Metropolitan Opera Guild is honored to pay tribute to one of the towering figures in the world of music - the Met's own Maestro James Levine. He is a treasure, and we are all delighted to see him back where he belongs."
James Levine has helped shape the Metropolitan Opera for more than four decades, serving as music director since 1976 and leading nearly 2,500 Met performances. Now, returning after an absence of more than two years because of major health problems, the conductor has just made his comeback in the season premiere of Mozart's Così fan tutte.
His return to the Met's pit was greeted with a veritable avalanche of positive press. In a front-page story, the New York Times called it "one of the most keenly anticipated events in the opera world." As for the music director's leadership of Mozart's masterpiece, the critical response was unanimous. He "scored a triumph," proclaimed the Chicago Tribune. "He led his beloved musicians like a man rejuvenated," agreed the Associated Press. "I don't think I have ever heard a more vibrant, masterly, and natural performance," concluded Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times. "Now, it can truly be said that James Levine is back." Così's happy ending marked, as the New York Post put it, "a happy new beginning."
The Guild's Annual Luncheon has been a highlight of every opera season for many decades, bringing together artists and their fans - many of them Guild members - to celebrate the leading exponents of the art form. Last year, "Star Power!" paid tribute to the Met's National Council Auditions,and in 2011 more than 600 guests came together to honor living legend Marilyn Horne. Other recent honorees have included such beloved artists asFrederica von Stade, Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo and director Franco Zeffirelli.
Among the myriad distinguished Met artists of past and present who are already slated to help celebrate Levine on November 11 are Roberto Alagna, Paul Appleby, Marco Armiliato, Harolyn Blackwell, Jennifer Check, Graham Clark, Beth Clayton, Philip Cokorinos, John Del Carlo, Daniela Dessì, Mignon Dunn, Rosalind Elias, Maria Ewing, Richard Paul Fink, Judith Forst, Riccardo Frizza, George Gagnidze, Christine Goerke, Matthias Goerne, Denyce Graves, Paul Groves, Nathan Gunn, Thomas Hampson, John Harbison, Lynn Harrell, Hei-Kyung Hong, Vladimir Jurowski, Torsten Kerl, Ildikó Komlósi, Richard Leech, Catherine Malfitano, Fabrizio Melano, Susanne Mentzer, Aprile Millo, Sherrill Milnes, Leona Mitchell, James Morris, Heidi Grant Murphy, Eric Owens, Ailyn Pérez, Roberta Peters, Paul Plishka, Florence Quivar, Patricia Racette, Johan Reuter, Renata Scotto, Benita Valente, Deborah Voigt, Jeffrey Wells, and Dolora Zajick.