Richard Tucker at 100 Gala to Air on PBS' LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER, 1/10

By: Jan. 08, 2014
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A "dream team of opera singers" (New York Times) will light UP TV screens across the country on Friday, January 10 at 9 p.m. EST (check local listings) in the national broadcast of "Richard Tucker at 100: An Opera Celebration." Hosted by Audra McDonald for PBS's Emmy Award-winning Live From Lincoln Center, the telecast captures the Richard Tucker Music Foundation's recent gala concert at Avery Fisher Hall, which honored the legendary tenor's centennial. Isabel Leonard, the 2013 Richard Tucker Award-winner and a rising star in the U.S. and abroad, joined many of today's biggest names in opera-Stephanie Blythe, Stephen Costello, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Greer Grimsley, Angela Meade, Eric Owens, Ailyn Pérez and Matthew Polenzani-for arias and ensembles by Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Puccini, Offenbach and more with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Choral Society led by Maestro Riccardo Frizza.

As the New York Times observed in a glowing review, this year's Richard Tucker Gala featured a "stellar lineup...from the exquisite mezzo Isabel Leonard, to Ms. Fleming, whose silken soprano won her first place in 1990." The review went on to single out a few of the performances:

"For her highly entertaining performance of Offenbach's 'Ah, que j'aime les militaires,' from La Grande Duchesse Gerolstein, Ms. Graham recruited four actors in uniform with whom she toyed like a cat, with knowing winks in the direction of the audience... In a deliciously comic scene with her husband and fellow Tucker Prize recipient, Stephen Costello, [Ailyn Pérez] showed her sassy side, as [Adina] played hard to get in 'Esulti pur la barbara,' from L'elisir d'amore. Each revealed a perfect grasp of comic timing in acting and singing."

This year's gala boasted a who's who of Tucker Award-winners. Isabel Leonard was joined by numerous previous recipients of the prestigious award: sopranos Renée Fleming (1990), Angela Meade (2011) and Ailyn Pérez (2012); mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe (1999) and Joyce DiDonato (2002); and tenors Matthew Polenzani (2004) and Stephen Costello (2009). The program also featured mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who sings the lead role of Sycorax in The Enchanted Island this season at the Metropolitan Opera; bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, who sang Wotan in the Met's recent Ring cycle; and bass-baritone Eric Owens, who undertakes the role of Amonasro this season in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's concert production of Aida.

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 career. 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: $50,000 given to an artist judged to be on the threshold of a major international career.

Live From Lincoln Center is in its 39th broadcast season. The series has received 13 Emmy Awards to date, and has made the world's greatest artists on Lincoln Center's renowned stages accessible to home viewers in virtually every corner of the United States. This episode will be directed by Emmy Award-winner Annette Jolles and produced by Andrew C. Wilk; Lincoln Center's Chief Media and Digital Officer, Elizabeth W. Scott, is executive in charge of the series' production. More information about Live From Lincoln Center can be found here.