March 17, 2009

Met celebrates 125th anniversary

An event celebrating the Metropolitan Opera House's 125th anniversary raised $6.3 million for the cash-strapped New York company.

The New York Post said longtime conductor James Levine led Sunday night's gala in Manhattan with selections from Wagner's Parsifal, Mozart's The Magic Flute and Verdi's Otello.

Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, who is celebrating his fourth decade with the company, performed an aria from Puccini's La fanciulla del West and scenes from Parsifal and Otello, and gave a preview of his upcoming baritone role in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, which included a duet with soprano Angela Gheorghiu, the Post reported.

Offerings from Puccini's Rigoletto, Wagner's Siegfried, Verdi's Aida, Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades and Korngold's Die Tote Stadt were included on the bill, as well.

AM New York said the gala also featured performances by Roberto Alagna, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Kim Begley, Stephanie Blythe, Joseph Calleja, Natalie Dessay, Renee Fleming, Juan Diego Florez, Marcello Giordani, Maria Guleghina, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Maija Kovalevska, Mariusz Kwiecien, Waltraud Meier, Susanne Mentzer, James Morris, Sondra Radvanovsky, John Relyea and Deborah Voigt.

The Met earlier this month announced it is using its lobby murals by Russian-born artist Marc Chagall to secure a long-term loan. The Manhattan institution's spokesman Peter Clark has declined to disclose the size of the loan or the estimated value of the paintings.

The famed opera company said last month its $300 million endowment had decreased, while donations were plummeting. As a result, the Met slashed senior staff salaries by 10 percent and cut four performances out of its schedule for next season.