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You are hereHome News Met Opera stars mark Lincoln Center anniversary: The Metropolitan Opera toasted 50 years at Lincoln Center with a Wagnerian-scale extravaganza that showcased its global talent roster from across multiple generations.

The multimedia concert featured about 40 singers who normally carry an entire show, but were instead presented in one, or at most two numbers, usually a major aria or duet from a popular opera.

The evening’s dramatic highlight came early when Met General Manager Peter Gelb came out to introduce an artist whom he described as “defying all the odds” to return to the Met stage, in the evening’s only performance that wasn’t on the official program.

Out walked star Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky who late last year withdrew from opera performances due to an ongoing battle with brain cancer.

Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky withdrew from opera performances late last year due to an ongoing battle with brain cancer

Hvorostovsky looked a bit gaunt and walked gingerly as he took the stage to loud cheers and a standing ovation. But he delivered an aria from Verdi’s “Rigoletto” with ferocious gusto after which he blew kisses to the crowd, which stood for a second time.

The Met’s anniversary at Lincoln Center, a cultural plaza on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, comes at a challenging time for opera in the United States.

Like other US opera houses, the Met has faced difficulty attracting enough new subscribers to replace older audience members who are in decline.

But Sunday’s concert sold out and drew an enthusiastic response from the audience, most of whom stayed until the end. The show zipped from piece to piece and genre to genre with fast-changing sets that made ample use of video, but the sheer volume of material lengthened the event to five hours, much longer than expected.


– Highlighting new stars –

Interspersed with the music were a handful of video segments and vintage footage that included former president Dwight Eisenhower touting the building of Lincoln Center and a segment on how the design of the Met’s signature chandeliers was spawned by an errant paint splatter on a sketch by architect Tadeusz Leski.

Other segments featured artist Marc Chagall, whose murals hang in the Met, and legendary soprano Leontyne Price, who opened the Met in 1966 in “Antony and Cleopatra.”

The performance included several selections intended to whet the audience appetite for future Met shows, many featuring newer stars, such as South African soprano Pretty Yende, who joined Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien in a cheeky duet from Donizetti’s comedy “Don Pasquale” and also sang alongside American Austrian bass-baritone Eric Owens in “Porgy & Bess.”

Yende is scheduled to sing the Donizetti opera in a future season, while Owens will appear in “Porgy” down the road.

Others in this group included soprano Angela Meade and tenor Michael Fabiano, both rising American singers, who appeared with Austrian bass Gunther Groissbock in Verdi’s “I Lombardi.”

Mexican tenor Javier Camarena, who sang from Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment,” won cheers including several chants of “Viva Mexico.”

But the gala also showcased artists in the twilight of their Met careers, including conductor and music director emeritus James Levine, the only performer besides Hvorostovsky to get a standing ovation.

Levine conducted the final portion of the evening, a highpoint of which was a moving performance by Spanish legend Placido Domingo and veteran American soprano Renee Fleming, who joined forces for a love duet from Massenet’s “Thais.”

The evening closed with a rousing choral number from “Aida” that included a screen backdrop with photos of Met stars of yore, including icons like the late Luciano Pavarotti, who still win cheers.

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