$7.4 million of the grant will help offset the costs of four new productions through the 2009-10 season, including completion funds for this spring's production of Puccini's Il Trittico, which opens on April 20. (2006-07). The remaining three productions supported by the Annenberg gift are Donizetti's La Fille du r_giment (2007-08), starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Fl‹rez; Verdi's Il trovatore (2008-09); and Puccini's Tosca (2009-10).
$1.6 million will be used to establish the new Annenberg Principal Artists Fund, meant "to ensure the Met's future as a home for the world's greatest singers." Money from the Fund will underwrite the performances of two to four leading artists at the Met during each of four seasons (2006-07 through 2009-10. Among the prominent soloists who have agreed to perform at the Met in at least two productions in each upcoming season are Olga Borodina, Diana Damrau, Plšcido Domingo, Ren_e Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu, Ben Heppner, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Jonas Kaufmann, Karita Mattila, Ren_ Pape, Matthew Polenzani, and Deborah Voigt.
The remaining $1 million will cover the full production costs of "Anna & Rolando Celebrate the Met," this week's 40th Anniversary Gala in honor of the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center. The April 3 program featured soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villaz‹n, famous for their on-stage chemistry with each other as well as for their individual musical achievements, in one act each from Puccini's La Bohme, Massenet's Manon, and Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.
In a statement, Mrs. Annenberg said of the new gift, "The Met has proven this year to be a driving force in the global arts community, breathing new life into the art form and attracting a larger, more diverse audience for opera. The Foundation is proud to be a part of these exciting changes and committed to helping the Met maintain long-term viability."