Dr. Agnes Varis Subsidizes 500 Seats at Avery Fisher Hall for L'Africaine Performance


The Opera Orchestra of New York announced today that Dr. Agnes Varis will subsidize 500 premium seats at Avery Fisher Hall for the company's opera-in-concert performance of Meyerbeer's L'Africaine conducted by Music Director Eve Queler on March 2, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. The subsidized seats in the orchestra and first tier sections, ranging in price from $145 to $110, will be available for $20 each through an online drawing, which may be entered at the Opera Orchestra of New York's website, www.operaorchestrany.org.

Ms. Queler said, "I am deeply moved by Dr. Varis's generosity and I'm incredibly thankful for her support of the Opera Orchestra of New York. Dr. Varis's gift not only benefits the Opera Orchestra, but all opera fans. Her contribution makes it possible for even more people to enjoy opera and provides OONY with the opportunity to share our music with a wider audience."

Dr. Varis added, "I am honored to subsidize the 500 premium seats for the March 2nd concert. I did so in the hope that young, eclectic opera fans would join our many other eclectic opera fans to an exciting evening with Maestro Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York. Welcome Back Eve!"

Opera-goers may sign up for the drawing on the Opera Orchestra of New York's website, www.operaorchestrany.org. The deadline for entries is Friday, February 18, 2011, at 5:00 p.m. ET. Winners will be notified beginning Monday, February 21, 2011 and each winner may purchase up to two tickets at $20 each. Specific seat locations are random and non-negotiable. Official rules are also available on the company's website.

In August 2010, Dr. Varis made a contribution of $250,000 to the Opera Orchestra of New York in support of Eve Queler and the company's 40th anniversary season presentation of L'Africaine. The gift was dedicated to her late husband Karl Leichtman.

L'Africaine stars tenor Marcello Giordani in his seventh performance with the company; sopranos Ellie Dehn and Chiara Taigi making her U.S. debut; baritone Fikile Mvinjelwa in his company debut; and bass-baritone Michael Anthony McGee. The opera-in-concert will be presented in honor of Richard Tucker, who performed the lead role of Vasco da Gama in L'Africana, the Italian language version of the opera, during the company's premiere season.

All L'Africaine ticket holders are also invited to attend OONY's special event, The Meyerbeer Retrospective, on Tuesday, February 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Bohemian National Hall located at 321 East 73 Street in New York. This event will feature major arias and duets from Meyerbeer's operas including L'Africaine, Les Huguenots and Robert Le Diable, performed by members of the Opera Orchestra of New York's Young Artists Program. Tickets to the Meyerbeer Retrospective are free to L'Africaine ticket holders and can be obtained by calling the Opera Orchestra of New York's box office at 212-906-9137.

Dr. Varis serves as the founder and President of Agvar Chemicals and Modavar Pharmaceuticals. She is actively involved in the arts community and has underwritten programs at the Metropolitan Opera including the popular weekend and weekday orchestra-seat rush tickets programs, a senior citizen orchestra multi-seat program, and a children's program. She donated the Agnes Varis Performance Stage to Jazz at Lincoln Center, and sponsors the Jazz Foundation of America's national educational children's Jazz In School Program, which employs elderly jazz musicians. Dr. Varis was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.