WNO Announces Star-Studded Gala With Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, and Leslie Odom Jr., 6/3

WNO Announces Star-Studded Gala With Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, and Leslie Odom Jr., 6/3

WNO Announces Star-Studded Gala With Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, and Leslie Odom Jr., 6/3

Washington National Opera (WNO) today announces an exciting conclusion to its 2016-2017 season: the 2017 WNO Opera Gala, celebrating WNO Board Chairman Jacqueline Badger Mars, who will step down as Chairman this summer. The Gala, on Saturday, June 3, 2017, will include a concert in the Kennedy Center Opera House featuring the WNO Orchestra and an array of musical stars who will pay special tribute to Jacqueline Mars's visionary leadership of WNO: legendary soprano Rene?e Fleming, superstar mezzo-soprano and D.C. native Denyce Graves, and Hamilton Tony Award® winner Leslie Odom Jr. The Gala is presented as part of JFKC, the Kennedy Center's season-long celebration of John F. Kennedy's centennial, and explores the themes of service and gratitude, which are often associated with President Kennedy.

The Co-Chairmen of the WNO Opera Gala are WNO Life Chairman Mrs. Eugene B. Casey and Mrs. John F. Mars. The Opera Gala pays tribute to Jacqueline Badger Mars for her six seasons of leadership of the WNO Board of Trustees. Highlights of her tenure include the founding of the American Opera Initiative, which for the last five seasons has helped identify the brightest rising American composers and librettists and has added their work to the repertory; the programming of an annual opera for families at the holiday season, including Hansel and Gretel, The Little Prince, and the world premiere commission of The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me; and the presentation of WNO's first-ever complete Ring cycles in 2016, a feat that put WNO into a very elite group of American opera companies.

"I have been honored to work with Jacquie Mars since 2008, and her imaginative leadership and guidance have brought WNO unparalleled growth and success while also making the opera more accessible to a broader audience," said WNO executive director Michael L. Mael. "Our next Chairman will certainly have big shoes to fill, but I am happy that Jacquie will continue to steer this company as a WNO trustee."

Tickets for the Gala concert start at $49 and are on sale now to Kennedy Center members. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 10 a.m.

For those who wish to purchase special Gala packages, the evening will begin with a VIP cocktail reception on the Kennedy Center's River Terrace at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Gala concert at 6:30 p.m. After the performance, Gala package holders will depart the Kennedy Center for elegant black-tie dinners hosted by many ambassadors at their embassies or residences throughout the city, a longtime tradition of the Opera's season- ending social gathering.

The Opera Gala is WNO's largest fundraiser and one of Washington's most anticipated events of the year. Proceeds from the Opera Gala will play a crucial role in advancing the Opera's award-wining artistic, educational, and outreach programs.

While the 2016-2017 season is coming to an end, the new season promises excitement. WNO's 2017-2018 season includes new productions of Verdi's epic drama Aida, the company premiere of Handel's magical baroque opera Alcina, and Verdi's towering masterpiece Don Carlo, plus Rossini's delightful comedy The Barber of Seville and Bernstein's biting satire Candide. The season also features a festival weekend of four world premieres as part of the American Opera Initiative, the return of the holiday family opera The Little Prince, two special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist performances, and more. Subscription packages are available now.


Tickets for the Gala concert start at $49 and are available online, in person at the Kennedy Center Box Office, and by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.

Information about Gala ticket packages, which include the VIP cocktail party, priority seating for the Gala concert, and seating at private embassy dinners following the performance, is available online or by contacting the Special Events office at (202) 416- 8496 or operagala@kennedy-center.org.<


In the year leading up to the centennial of John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 2017, the Kennedy Center is revitalizing the very mission of the institution created to honor him. Inspired by a handful of enduring ideals he championed-Courage, Freedom, Justice, Service, and Gratitude-the Center is reenvisioning itself as a "living memorial": a place that explores, challenges, and reflects the contemporary spirit of America. Guided by JFK's legacy of idealism, hope, and empowerment, the Kennedy Center will launch new initiatives, serving as a catalyst and a meeting place, and invite members of the public to engage with artists and ideas, and to participate in the civic and cultural life of their country.

Washington National Opera (WNO) is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, the company presents a diverse season of grand opera-including both classics from the repertory and more contemporary pieces-plus several newly commissioned American works and a variety of special concerts and events. The WNO Orchestra is led by Music Director Philippe Auguin. Founded in 1956 and an affiliate of the Kennedy Center since 2011, WNO has a storied legacy of world premieres, new productions, international tours, live recordings and radio broadcasts, and innovative education and community-engagement programs. Throughout its history, WNO has been led by titans in the opera field, including the legendary Pla?cido Domingo, who headed the company from 1996 to 2011.

WNO contributes to the future of opera through two signature artist-development programs. The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, now in its 15th season, has become one of the nation's most competitive and comprehensive professional training programs for young singers and collaborative pianists. Alumni of the program have won major competitions and gone on to successful careers at major opera houses in the U.S. and abroad. The WNO Opera Institute nurtures the ambitions of high-school-age singers from across the nation during an intensive three-week summer program held at American University in Washington.

Among the company's most successful recent programs is the 2012 launch of the American Opera Initiative, a comprehensive commissioning program that works to expand the American operatic repertory, to give WNO's young artists the chance to collaborate with living composers and librettists on new works, and to make American opera more relevant to 21st-century audiences. The most popular of WNO's community-engagement programs is M&M'S® Opera in the Outfield, during which an opera is broadcast live from the Kennedy Center Opera House stage to the high-definition scoreboard at Nationals Park. The company's other education programs include the Kids Create Opera program at local elementary schools, Look-In performances for students in grades 4-8, and the Student Dress Rehearsal Program for middle and high school students. The company also offers free Opera Insights programs before every performance in the Opera House.

To celebrate the company's 60th anniversary last season, Washington National Opera presented three complete cycles of Wagner's Ring in spring 2016. These performances, featuring an acclaimed production by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by Music Director Philippe Auguin, marked the first time the company presented The Ring in complete cycles in its history.

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The 2017 WNO Opera Gala Presenting Sponsor is Mars, Incorporated. Major support for WNO is provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars.
David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of WNO. WNO acknowledges the longstanding generosity of

Life Chairman Mrs. Eugene B. Casey.

WNO's Presenting Sponsor General Dynamics

Support for JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy is provided by Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Chevron,