Press Room

Met Guild celebrates “Star Power!” at Waldorf-Astoria on Dec 4

On Tuesday, December 4, the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s 78th Annual Luncheon celebrates “Star Power!”: a salute to the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions. A perennial highlight of the opera season, the luncheon will bring together a host of artists whose careers were launched by this venerable program – familiar from the celebrated and much talked-about documentary The Audition (2009) – with opera fans and an array of New York’s society, business, and civic leaders. “Star Power!” will feature performances and reminiscences from several National Council Auditions Grand Finals-winners, as well as a video history of the program. Among the highlights will be spoken tributes by Martina Arroyo, Harolyn Blackwell, Grace Bumbry, Michael Fabiano and Richard Stilwell, and musical tributes by tenor Lawrence Brownlee and sopranos Angela Meade and Latonia Moore. (Meade and Fabiano were two of the finalists – and ultimately winners – followed in The Audition; another winner from the film, Amber Wagner, will also attend the December 4 luncheon.) Proceeds from the event will benefit the Guild’s education programs in New York City and throughout the country.
According to Guild President Richard J. Miller, Jr.:
“The Metropolitan Opera Guild is delighted to celebrate the Met’s National Council Auditions at our 78th annual luncheon. Since 1935, the Met Auditions have brought hundreds of talented young singers to the attention of the company, including many who went on to become beloved Met artists. On December 4, we will have the pleasure of seeing four generations of Auditions participants reunite, many of them decades after they triumphed at this invaluable competition.”
Dubbed “the most visible competition in America” (New York Times), the Met’s National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. District auditions are held annually at 40 North American locations, enabling talented singers from all over the US and Canada to enter the program at a local level. District audition winners advance to one of 13 regional finals, where they compete to win a trip to the national semi-finals at the Met. Approximately ten semi-finalists are then selected as national finalists, who compete before the public in the Grand Finals Concert with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Around five grand winners receive awards of $15,000 each, and the concert is broadcast nationwide on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Network. Further awards are made to each of the remaining finalists and semi-finalists, of $5,000 and $1,500 respectively.
To the vast majority of opera fans, the process is best known thanks to The Audition, a documentary from award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke. As seen on PBS, this feature-length film offers a vivid and in-depth look behind the scenes at the extraordinary experience of eleven singers who made it to the finals of the 2007 National Council Auditions, introducing the general public to the considerable challenges young singers face as they try to carve out careers in opera’s highly competitive and discerning world. Combining the guilty pleasure of reality television with the uplifting delights of opera, The Audition was a resounding success when it first aired, and continues to generate buzz today.
Many of the world’s foremost singers, from Leonard Warren, Eleanor Steber, Robert Merrill, Patrice Munsel, Martina Arroyo, Grace Bumbry and Teresa Stratas to Jessye Norman, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Deborah Voigt, and Stephanie Blythe, have been winners at the Auditions. Annually, approximately 100 former participants appear in Metropolitan Opera productions; on this season’s Met roster alone, nearly 60 artists were finalists and semi-finalists in the program. 
The Guild’s Annual Luncheon has been a highlight of every opera season for many decades, bringing together artists and their fans – many of them Guild members – to celebrate the leading exponents of the art form. Last year, more than 600 guests came together to honor living legend Marilyn Horne, and in 2010, the Guild celebrated its own 75th anniversary with a salute to its pioneering founder, Eleanor Belmont. Other recent honorees have included such beloved artists as Frederica von Stade, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Plácido Domingo; director Franco Zeffirelli; and former General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Joseph Volpe.
Among the Met artists past and present who are slated to attend on December 4 are Roberta Alexander, Paul Appleby, Martina Arroyo, Harolyn Blackwell, Lawrence Brownlee, Grace Bumbry, Loretta Di Franco, Vinson Cole, Mary Costa, Rosalind Elias, Hei-Kyung Hong, John Macurdy, Spiro Malas, Jane Marsh, Angela Meade, Latonia Moore, Patrice Munsel, Lisette Oropesa, Mary Beth Peil, Roberta Peters, Susanna Phillips, Paul Plishka, Regina Resnik, George Shirley, Richard Stilwell, Benita Valente, Carol Vaness and Amber Wagner.      
The Honorary Chairmen of the event are Mercedes T. Bass, Susan S. Braddock, Kevin W. Kennedy, Frayda B. Lindemann and Ann Ziff, while the Chairmen are Edmée Firth, Marifé Hernández, Mrs. Kerryn King, Camille LaBarre, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Richard J. Miller, Jr., Winthrop Rutherfurd, Jr. and Langdon Van Norden, Jr.  BNY Mellon Wealth Management is the Luncheon’s Corporate Sponsor.
For more than 75 years, the Metropolitan Opera Guild has provided substantial support to the Met and has greatly enhanced the public’s appreciation of opera in general. Since its founding by the pioneering philanthropist Eleanor Robson Belmont in 1935, the Guild has contributed more than $250 million to the Met. The organization runs one of the country’s most innovative and far-reaching music education programs, which impacts more than 16,000 students and teachers in seven states. In 2010, the Guild received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Arts-in-Education” Model Development and Dissemination Program for its Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT) project. The Guild also publishes Opera News, the world’s largest-circulation magazine devoted to opera, and produces an annual series of major public programs, including the Opera News Awards, Met Legends, and Met Mastersingers series. The eighth annual Opera News Awards will take place on April 21, 2013 at The Plaza in New York City.
“Star Power!”
Tuesday, December 4 at 12:15pm
Grand Ballroom, Waldorf-Astoria, NYC
For tickets, call 212-769-7009, or visit!/MetOperaGuild

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