This year’s Richard Tucker Foundation Gala — a perennial highlight of the opera season — celebrates Richard Tucker’s centennial with performances by many of the world’s greatest voices and a salute to this year’s award winner, Isabel Leonard.
For the past 38 years, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s annual gala event has presented the world’s biggest opera stars on one stage on one night. This year’s event is no exception: in a special tribute to celebrate the centenary of the late Brooklyn-born tenor’s birth, a star-studded group of American singers will take the stage for a program of favorite arias and ensembles. Performers include Stephanie Blythe, Stephen Costello, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Gregg Grimsley, Angela Meade, Eric Owens, Ailyn Pérez, Matthew Polenzani, and Patricia Racette, joining the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Choral Society, under the baton of conductor Riccardo Frizza.
Many of the singers featured on the program are past recipients of the foundation’s biggest prize, the Richard Tucker Award, which gave them recognition and much needed funds at a crucial point in their careers. This year’s Richard Tucker Award recipient is the “fresh, effervescent, and lovely” (New York Times) Isabel Leonard, a native New Yorker and rising star in the United States and abroad. Besides her current run as Dorabella in the Met’s Così fan tutte under James Levine, which will be broadcast to cinemas worldwide in the spring as part of the company’s Live in HD series, the 2013-14 season sees Leonard in her highly anticipated debuts at the San Francisco Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Dallas Opera as Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Last season also saw Leonard in an array of distinguished roles. She sang Miranda in Adès’s The Tempest, Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, and Rosina in the English version of Rossini’s Barber of Seville. She also made her debut with the Canadian Opera Company as Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and impressed audiences in recital at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. Last year, she appeared on a segment about Lincoln Center and the Met Opera on Sesame Street.