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New York City Opera: Puccini Celebration

Honoring the 100th anniversary of the passing of Giacomo Puccini
June 1, 2024, 7:00pm–8:30pm

Honoring the 100th anniversary of the passing of Giacomo Puccini, one of the greatest opera composers in history, Picnic Performances opening weekend features New York City Opera and two glittering concerts celebrating Puccini's immense and indelible legacy. Featuring the New York City Opera Orchestra and Chorus and conducted by Maestro Joseph Rescigno, the concerts will include selections from each and every Puccini opera, performed by some of the brightest stars of the opera world singing some of the most beloved arias, duets, and ensembles in all of opera.

Stream Puccini Celebration on Friday, May 31 at 7pm

Joseph Rescigno, conductor
Joseph Rescigno has conducted the music of Bach through the moderns for companies on four continents. Permanent engagements have included the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee, WI, where he served as Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor for 38 seasons beginning in 1981. He also has been Music Director of La Musica Lirica since 2005. As a guest, he has mounted the podium of more than 50 companies such as the Montreal Symphony and the New York City Opera (debut 1985). Maestro Rescigno’s discography of seven recordings includes two operatic world premieres and studio recordings of operatic and symphonic works. The University of North Texas Press published his Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music in 2020. A native New Yorker, Joseph Rescigno comes from a long line of musicians on both sides of his family. He trained as a pianist and has studied and performed music since childhood.

Irina Rindzuner, soprano
Irina Rindzuner is an American dramatic soprano who has appeared in leading roles at many of the world’s major opera companies and has received great critical acclaim from international publications. As a designated Metropolitan cover artist for the principal role of Katerina in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in the 22/23 season, Irina Rindzuner made her Metropolitan Opera stage debut (in comprimario role of the Convict) in September 2022 with no rehearsal. Turandot is Irina Rindzuner’s signature role, as she has sung it 84 times in theaters across the globe. The most notable performances have taken place at such theaters as Gran Teatro Puccini, Den Norske Opera, Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile, Minnesota Opera, National Lyric Opera of New York, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, Saarländisches Staatstheater, Braunschweig Staatstheater and many others. The New York Times has described Ms. Rindzuner's appearance as Turandot at the Dicapo Opera Theater as a performance that has “earned her a rousing ovation”. She covered the role at the Metropolitan Opera in the 20/21 season.

Ashley Galvani Bell, soprano
The “delightful” (Opera News) soprano Ashley Galvani Bell has been performing from an early age, debuting as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus at age nine and making her Off-Broadway debut at sixteen in the world premiere of the musical The Golden Touch. Bell’s 2023-24 season includes producing and performing the title role in Divaria Productions’ Giovanna D’Arco/Maid of Orleans at the Bay Street Theatre; singing the role of Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and reprising the title character in Pedro Halffter’s Klara at the Teatro Pérez Galdos in Gran Canaria, a role she originated and has performed at Harvard University and in several venues in Spain. In 2023, Bell made her debut with ABAO Bilbao Opera as Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte where ProOpera highlighted her “superabundance of talent.” Other recent highlights include her debut with Seville’s Teatro Maestranza as Violetta in La Traviata, performing the role of Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with both Bohème Opera New Jersey and Daytona Beach Symphony Society; singing as soprano soloist with Milan’s Orchestra UNIMI in Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate; and singing Mimì in La Bohème with Opera Modesto.

Victor Starsky, tenor
Tenor Victor Starsky, a native of Richmond Hill, New York, received critical acclaim for role debuts as Radamés in Verdi’s Aïda and George Gibbs in Rorem’s Our Town at the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater in 2023. He performed Roméo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette with New York City Opera and Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème with Wichita Grand Opera. This winter, Starsky makes his Sarasota Opera debut as Don José in Carmen; one critic wrote “While possessing a voice that flexes with nuance...Watching his slow crumbling into unhinged desperation is unforgettable." Starsky will make his debut with Charlottesville Opera as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore in summer 2024. Previously, Starsky performed The Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass with Maestro Maurice Peress, and as an Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera, he was awarded the Shoshana Foundation’s Richard F. Gold Career Grant.

WooYoung Yoon, tenor
Tenor WooYoung Yoon has been praised for his “soaring high notes” and a voice that “conveys nobility” - Opera News. Future engagements include Rodolfo in La Boheme, and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, both with Opera San Jose, and his return to Carnegie Hall as a soloist in Hagenberg’s Illuminare, and in the Ramirez Misa Criolla. Recent performances include the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Benvolio and Romeo (cover) in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliet for Opera San Jose, Mozart’s Requiem for the Evansville Philharmonic, and the title role in La Damnation de Faust and Christus am Oelberg with Maestro Nelson and the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica. For the New York City Opera, he made his role debut as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, sang Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, premiered a concert commemorating the heroism of Chiune Sugihara which debuted at Carnegie Hall, and was featured in their production of Peter Rothstein’s All Is Calm.

Todd Thomas, baritone
Recognized by opera companies and critics alike as one of the true Verdi baritones gracing stages today, Todd Thomas continues his tenure as one of America’s most sought-after artists. Last season, Thomas returned to the Shanghai Opera House for his captivating portrayal of Der fliegende Holländer, reprised his signature role of Rigoletto with Amarillo Opera, and performed the role of Scarpia in Tosca with Florida Grand Opera, Opera Memphis, Opera on the James, and Charlottesville Opera, as well as Amonasro in Tulsa Opera’s Aida. This season, Thomas returns to China for concert performances of Roméo et Juliette with the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. Recently, Mr. Thomas performed the title role in Nabucco with Theater Erfurt in Germany, the title role of Rigoletto for both Florentine Opera and Florida Grand Opera, and Michele in Il tabarro with Opera Santa Barbara. Additionally, he sang Rigoletto for Tulsa Opera and Shreveport Opera, Michele/Schicchi in Il trittico with Pacific Opera Victoria, Tonio/Alfio in Pagliacci/Cavalleria rusticana for Opera Omaha, the title role of Gianni Schicchi with Opera Memphis, and Scarpia in Tosca with New Jersey Festival Orchestra.

Tatev Baroyan, soprano
Soprano Tatev Baroyan’s recent seasons have held many significant milestones. She had her role and house debut at the Salzburger Landestheater, portraying the title role of Iolanta. This production was a unique combination of Tchaikovsky's two works: Iolanta and The Nutcracker, crafted into a fantasy setting directed by Thomas Mika, under the baton of Leslie Suganandarajah. Additionally, she returned to the New York City Opera, making her role debut as Annina while covering the role of Violetta in La Traviata, directed by Michael Capasso and conducted by Constantine Orbelian. She also performed the role of Berta in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, directed by Helena Binder. Prior to these engagements, Tatev Baroyan participated in the world premiere production of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie with the New York City Opera, covering the title role of Micòl Finzi-Contini. She also won the Florida District competition and received the second prize in the Southeast Region of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition. 

New York City Opera was famously dubbed “The People's Opera” by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia at its founding in 1943. More than 70 years later, City Opera continues its historic mission to inspire audiences with innovative and theatrically compelling opera, nurture the work of promising American artists, and build new audiences through affordable ticket prices and extensive outreach and education programs.

Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America is a free outdoor festival that welcomes all New Yorkers to experience the city’s vibrant arts and culture. The series provides a platform for extraordinary artists and serves as a vital outdoor venue for a wide array of New York’s cultural institutions.

On the lawn

Bring your own picnic or purchase food and drinks from tents on the east side of the lawn. Attendees can enjoy cuisine from the five boroughs with a rotating line-up of artisanal vendors curated by Hester Street Fair.

Stout NYC also offers giant pretzels, gourmet popcorn and other light bites as well as a selection of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase.

Bryant Park lends out hundreds of free blankets on a first-come, first-served basis, or bring your own cotton or fleece blanket. To protect the lawn, please do not sit on waterproof materials such as plastic tarps, yoga mats, or inflatable chairs. 

Take a seat in one of the pre-set chairs on the lawn or grab a chair from the gravel. You can use a chair anywhere in the park except for the center lawn "blanket zone". 

Find jugglers, hula hoops, giant Jenga, and more fun on the east side of the lawn at select events. 

We love dogs, but dog urine can leave the lawn with bald spots. Dogs are welcome on the gravel and bluestone, but please do not bring dogs on the lawn. 

Performances are cancelled when it is unsafe to be outdoors. In some cases, the lawn may be too wet to open but the performance may continue. Follow @bryantparknyc on Twitter and Instagram for day-of event updates. You can also check the lawn status on the homepage.