Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Monday, November 20, 2000

Release #442-00


Michael Anton/Lynn Rasic (212) 788-2958




Metropolitan Opera Singers Receive Prestigious Cultural Award

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani this evening presented the Handel Medallion to Mme. Licia Albanese and Ms. Roberta Peters at a Gracie Mansion reception. The Handel Medallion is the highest official honor given by the City of New York and is presented to individuals for their contributions to the City's cultural life.

"Roberta Peters and Licia Albanese have generously given their talent to the City of New York, and all the people of the world," said Mayor Giuliani. "Individually, they have careers that span decades, and they are without question two of the most loved and respected performers in the world."

Mme. Licia Albanese has played 17 roles in 16 operas in 427 performances and over the past 26 seasons, has continued to be one of the great talents of the Metropolitan Opera. Born in Italy, the soprano has performed in her native country, France, England and Malta. Mme. Albanese is the founder and chair of the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, which over the past 26 years has assisted hundreds of young American and international artists through scholarships, study grants, and master classes. Mme. Albanese has recently given her time to The Juilliard School of Music and Marymount Manhattan College directing operatic scenes and presenting master classes.

Ms. Roberta Peters, who celebrated the Golden anniversary of her professional debut on November 17, 2000, has sung more than two thousand concerts in every state of the union. Peter's anniversary celebrates her unscheduled debut at the Metropolitan Opera. As a 19 year-old who had never sung professionally before, Peters sang Zerlina in "Don Giovanni". Peters served as National Chairman for the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as well as devoting her time to other social causes such as AIDS awareness. She is a board member of the Carnegie Hall Corporation and the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Peters has sung for every president since John F. Kennedy and among her many honors is the prestigious National Medal of the Arts.

Joining the Mayor for the Medallion presentation were Cultural Affairs Commissioner Schuyler Chapin and New York State Senator Roy Goodman. At the reception, an aria was sung by Metropolitan Opera performer Lorraine Ernest.

The Handel Medallion is named for the German-born composer George Friederic Handel and was established in 1959 on the 200th anniversary of his death.

Over the years, the Medallion has been awarded to renowned artists such as Benny Goodman, Richard Rodgers, George Abbot, Charlie Chaplin, Lena Horne and Kitty Carlisle Hart.

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