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Richard Tucker Day (Aug 28) honors legendary tenor’s centennial in NYC

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has declared Wednesday, August 28 the second annual Richard Tucker Day” in New York City, marking what would have been the legendary Brooklyn-born tenor’s 100th birthday. To observe this honor, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation will lead celebrations throughout the city and online, in collaboration with a number of renowned New York institutions, including Junior’s restaurant, Brooklyn Brewery, the Metropolitan Opera, The Juilliard School, the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, WQXR, Operavore and more.

The leading American tenor of his day, native New Yorker Richard Tucker has been dubbed “King of the Met during the 1950s and ’60s” (Opera News), and his invaluable contribution to the cultural life of the city has already been recognized in a number of ways: the park adjacent to Lincoln Center was designated “Richard Tucker Square,” with a bronze portrait bust of the singer, and last August, on what would have been his 99th birthday, New York celebrated the first annual Richard Tucker Day.

“We are thrilled that Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York have chosen once again to honor my father’s legacy. He had a deep attachment to the city, and on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday, the tribute is especially fitting,” said Barry Tucker, President of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and eldest son of the great tenor. 

Highlights of the festivities planned for Richard Tucker Day include the following:

  • At noon, the Manhattan-based Opera Collective – as featured on NHK’s documentary series New York Streets – will present a concert celebrating the centennial at Richard Tucker Square (Broadway between W. 65th and W. 66th Streets), as part of Lincoln Square’s Business Improvement District’s Free Lunchtime Concert Series.
  • Beginning at 2pm, Tucker Foundation award- and grant-winning singers will present an Aria-thon at Richard Tucker Square, singing beloved pieces from some of the 30 different operas in which Tucker starred at the Met during his 30-year career at the famed house.
  • At 4pm, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation will hold a panel discussion on the great tenor’s legacy at The Juilliard School. The distinguished speakers will include superstar soprano and 1990 Tucker Award-winner Renée Fleming; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is an ardent, life-long fan of opera; and lyric tenor Neil Shicoff, who serves on the Tucker Foundation’s audition panel and whose father, like Richard Tucker, was an American-Jewish opera singer and cantor.
  • Richard Tucker Day will conclude with a 7:30pm concert at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. Renée Fleming hosts the evening, while performers will include lyric soprano Ailyn Pérez, winner of the 2012 Tucker Award; mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, a 2012 Tucker Career Grant recipient and winner of the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition; 2009 Tucker Award-winning tenor Stephen Costello; tenor Paul Appleby, who won a Career Grant from the Foundation in 2011; and 2013 Career Grant recipient, soprano Erin Morley will join other Tucker Foundation laureates in a musical tribute to the great tenor’s legacy.
  • Throughout the day, Junior’s restaurant – a Brooklyn institution for more than 60 years – will offer an off-menu special sandwich, “The Richard Tucker Reuben,” in a nod to the American tenor’s given name, Rubin. The sandwich, a variation on the traditional Reuben, includes both pastrami and corned beef, which were two of Richard Tucker’s favorite deli meats. Junior’s is located at 386 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.
  • WQXR 105.9 FM, New York’s classical music radio station; Operavore, its online opera stream (; and the Metropolitan Opera’s Sirius/XM channel will present Richard Tucker recordings on-air and online throughout the day.
  • The Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, and Juilliard will lead online celebrations by posting Richard Tucker-related content on their respective social media channels. During his lifetime, the tenor enjoyed close ties to New York’s great cultural institutions.
  • Currently celebrating its own silver anniversary, the Brooklyn Brewery will donate a selection of its award-winning craft beers for a Richard Tucker Day private reception and honor the borough’s hometown hero on its social media.

Further centennial celebrations include the release of two limited-edition boxed sets of Richard Tucker’s own recordings by Sony Classical on August 6: the ten-disc Opera Recital Album Collection and 14-disc Song and Cantorial Album Collection both contain a wealth of material that has never previously been issued on CD. And a special Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala will honor the centenary at Avery Fisher Hall on November 17, when many of the biggest names in opera will gather together to celebrate. Singers already scheduled to appear at the event include Tucker Award-winners Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Angela Meade, Ailyn Pérez, Matthew Polenzani, and Stephen Costello.

Founded in 1975, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great tenor by nurturing the careers of talented American opera singers and bringing opera into the community. Through awards, grants for study, performance opportunities, and other activities, the foundation provides professional development for singers at various stages of their careers. It also offers free performances in the New York metropolitan area and supports music education enrichment programs. Further information about the foundation’s work is available at

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© 21C Media Group, August 2013

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