New York City Opera Orchestra to 'CELEBRATE 70 YEARS OF THE PEOPLE'S ORCHESTRA,' 2/21
Seventy years ago, on February 21st, 1944, New York City Opera showcased Giacomo Puccini's Tosca at the historic City Center. The beloved company went on to launch the careers of many of the opera world's most accomplished singers, including Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Maralin Niska, Shirley Verrett, Tatiana Troyanos, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano and Samuel Ramey, to name just a few. New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia called it the "People's Opera" in recognition of the company's mission to make opera accessible to a wide audience at a reasonable cost.
Now, the New York City Opera Orchestra presents "New York City Opera Orchestra and Stars Celebrate 70 Years of the People's Opera," happening Friday, February 21 at 7:30pm, at the site of the company's historic first performance, will feature performances by singers Lauren Flanigan, Joélle Harvey, Jennifer Rivera, Ryan MacPherson, Mark Delavan, and Sidney Outlaw, as well as the full 60-piece New York City Opera Orchestra, conducted by former music director George Manahan. The concert will feature selections from The Ballad of Baby Doe, Candide, Carmen, L'etoile, Giulio Cesare, Malcolm X, Martha and Die tote Stadt.
"I-and surely thousands of other New York City Opera fans and artists-am deeply grateful to the New York City Opera Orchestra and the Musicians Emergency Relief Fund for creating this golden opportunity to celebrate the 70th anniversary of a pioneering American Opera Company that forever changed the face of opera in America. This company's great legacy will long live on in the artists, repertoire and spirit it engendered, which now extends across the world," said the performance's Director of Artists and Repertoire, Cori Ellison, "For the occasion, we have chosen a program of beloved works important in New York City Opera's history, which will be sung by some of the company's favorite recent artists."
"Being called 'the thinking man's Diva' as a result of a lifetime's work at New York City Opera has been thrilling," said NYCO soprano Lauren Flanigan. "Honoring its legacy of great music-making, daring productions, unending commitment to American Opera and the musicians who made that possible is what musical dreams are made of. I am very happy to be a part of this incredibly special event. Happy 70th, NYCO!"
All proceeds will be donated to The New York City Musicians' Emergency Relief Fund (ERF), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides aid to musicians in dire need. The fund, which was established by the Associated Musicians of Greater New York under president Max Arons in 1967, has helped thousands of performers through emergenCy Grant assistance. Through its resources, musicians in distress have access to a full-time New York State licensed social worker who can provide counseling and intervention relating to serious issues including the threat of homelessness, alcoholism, addiction, family and relationship crises. Musicians are also able to apply for help through the fund in meeting financial needs during times of catastrophic illness and other financial hardships. ERF board members include legendary artists Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Pete Seeger and Roseanne Cash.
"The mission of the 'People's Opera' has always been an altruistic one-to share the power of outstanding opera with those who cannot otherwise afford it. And the mission of the Musicians' Emergency Relief Fund is to help those musicians who cannot afford necessary services in times of crisis. With this concert, as we gather to celebrate the history and legacy of the New York City Opera, it's fitting that we will also be helping musicians in need," said AugusTino Gagliardi, president of the New York City musicians union, Local 802 AFM, which manages the Musicians Emergency Relief Fund.