Soprano Christine Goerke Headlines WNO Gala

Washington National Opera (WNO) announces initial casting for its 2019 WNO Gala, celebrating local entrepreneur John J. Pohanka for his outstanding contributions to the organization. The Gala concert on Saturday, May 18, 2019, in the Kennedy Center Opera House features Evan Rogister leading theWNO Orchestra and an array of musical stars in his inaugural performance as WNO's Principal Conductor. Headlining the concert is renowned American soprano and Grammy® Award-winner Christine Goerke, joined by Washingtonian bassSoloman Howard. In demand by major opera houses around the world including Metropolitan Opera and Royal Opera House Covent Garden, WNO audiences will remember Goerke's heroic feat of stepping in last minute to take over the role of Brünnhilde during the company's first ever complete Ring Cycle in 2016. Howard, a former Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist, is the recipient of the 2019 Marian Anderson Vocal Award and most recently performed in Aida at The Met and Don Carlo with LA Opera.

The Co-Chairs of the WNO Gala are Jacqueline Badger Mars and Camille Biros.

The 2019 WNO Gala pays tribute to John J. Pohanka for his legacy and leadership with Washington National Opera. Serving nearly 30 years as a member of the Board of Trustees, including a term as Chairman from 2003-2005, Pohanka has been influential in building the company's success, including playing a central role in negotiating WNO's artistic affiliation with the Kennedy Center in 2011. His longstanding relationship with and institutional knowledge of WNO proves to be a valuable historical resource, which guides the Board in its decision-making. An opera aficionado and founding member of D.C.'s Wagner Society, Pohanka's financial support over the decades has been instrumental for WNO. His generous contributions have empowered Artistic Director Francesca Zambello to mount three full cycles of Richard Wagner's epic four-part Ring of the Nibelung in 2016, while also producing WNO's educational recordings with musicologist Saul Lilienstein; these CDs have provided musical analysis and historical context on every opera presented by WNO for thousands of listeners for the past 22 years.

"John's generosity, commitment, and determination in sharing his love of opera and Washington National Opera are unparalleled. His work and dedication over the years have been transformational for opera in the region. He is a lover of Wagner and the standard repertory, but he's also a proponent of operatic diversity, ever encouraging us to take risks in programming that balance the traditional with new and modern works," states Timothy O'Leary, general director, and Francesca Zambello, artistic director, for Washington National Opera in a joint statement. "John's success in business has been made possible because of his passion, work ethic, and extraordinary mind. The same qualities make him an invaluable board member. As a part of our WNO family, we respect John for his opinions, for his knowledge, and for his legacy in ensuring this company has the leadership, structure, and boldness to produce world-class art in our nation's capital. We are honored to celebrate John and thank him for his 30 years of service to Washington National Opera."

Tickets for the Gala concert only, starting at $45, are on sale starting February 19 at 10 a.m. to Kennedy Center members. Tickets go on sale to the general public on February 20 at 10 a.m.

The Gala is WNO's largest fundraising event and one of Washington's most anticipated events of the year. Proceeds from the Gala play a crucial role in advancing WNO's artistic, educational, and community engagement programs.

Special packages to attend all Gala festivities are available. The Gala evening will begin with a cocktail reception on the Kennedy Center's River Terrace at 4:30 p.m., followed by the 6 p.m. Gala concert performance. The event concludes with elegant black-tie dinners hosted by Ambassadors and foreign dignitaries at embassies and residences throughout Washington, a longtime tradition of the Opera's season-ending social gathering.

Washington National Opera's 2018-2019 season continues with Puccini's towering masterpiece Tosca (May 11-25, 2019), a special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist performance A Concert of Comic Masterpieces (May 24, 2019), and other exciting vocal events. Tickets for current productions are available now.

Subscriptions for the 2019-2020 season are now available. Washington National Opera will expand its main stage offerings to six productions next season, featuring Verdi's Shakespearean masterpiece Otello (October 26-November 16, 2019) with American tenor Russell Thomas; Mozart's whimsical fairy tale The Magic Flute(November 2-23, 2019) featuring vivid sets designed by famed children's author Maurice Sendak; bass-baritone Ryan McKinny portraying Mozart's Don Giovanni(February 29-March 22, 2020) as evil determines its own karmic fate; mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges seducing strength in Saint-Saëns's romantic Samson and Delilah (March 1-21, 2020); composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist/director Tazewell Thompson's new work Blue (March 15-28, 2020), in which every parent's worst fear comes center stage; and Gershwin's popular American classic Porgy and Bess (May 9-23, 2020).

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