“Richard Tucker was one of my gods. In my life there has always been that great voice to use as an inspiration”
Equally gifted in cantorial music and opera, the Jewish kid from Brooklyn who became one of opera's biggest stars of the mid-20th century annually celebrates the industry that unconditionally embraced him.
Tomorrow night, November 6, Avery Fisher Hall hosts the 36th annual Richard Tucker Gala where the enduring legacy of the American tenor will be celebrated in the city that he called home.
The gala also honors the recipient of the annual Richard Tucker Award and this year's winner is American soprano Angela Meade. The bel canto superstar has lots to sing about -- the purse is $30,000 -- and she's now in stellar company of past recipients such as Renée Fleming, Aprile Millo, Dolora Zajick, Deborah Voigt, Patricia Racette, Stephanie Blythe, Joyce DiDonato and John Relyea -- among many others.
After his passing in 1975, The Richard Tucker Music Foundation was established as a non-profit cultural org to honor the artist's legacy and to support American opera singers with awards and study grants.
During the gala, Meade will perform “Santo di patria” from Verdi’s Attila and she'll be joined by colleagues: Stephanie Blythe, Maria Guleghina, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, Yonghoon Lee, Željko Lučić, Marina Poplavskaya, Dolora Zajick and Marcello Giordani. Maestro Emmanuel Villaume conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Choral Society.
President and board member, Barry Tucker, shared an exclusive quote with Opera Chic about the 2011 award:
We were thrilled to give the Richard Tucker Award to Angela Meade, who we know will make us very proud. I first heard Angela when she gave a concert in Stamford, Connecticut: she sang "Pace Pace" and my jaw really dropped. I hadn't heard it sung like that in more than 30 years - incredible! Since then I've heard her sing Norma, as well as in other concert programs, and I am really impressed with this terrific young singer - both the amazing quality of her voice and how she uses it in these difficult pieces. At last year's Tucker Gala concert she wowed the audience with the end of Lucrezia Borgia.
Barely anyone knew her but I can't tell you how many people asked me about her afterwards, even with all the big-name stars on that gala. At this year's concert she's singing "Santo la patria" from Atilla and the end of Act One of Norma with Zajick and Giordani; these are some veteran heavy hitters, but I know Angela can keep up with them.
Over the last 37 years, the Tucker Foundation has given the Tucker Award to singers from Zajick and Fleming to DiDonato and Brownlee just as their careers took off and before they became international stars. I feel that Angela follows in that great tradition and I have really high hopes for her.
(Angela Meade, photo by Dario Acosta)
Meade made her professional debut in March 2008 at the Metropolitan Opera as Elvira in Verdi's Ernani, substituting on 24 hours notice a sick colleague to good reviews. She recently finished singing the title role in Anna Bolena at The Met in the production that opened the current season and had the critics swooning.
During the summer of 2009, Meade was lauded for her dashed Babylonian queen as the title role in the critical edition of Rossini's Semiramide at Caramoor, praised for her solid skills and confidence.
She's an undiva casta diva that makes easy work of Bellini's Norma, a role cherished by sopranos for its deeply emotional challenges.