Tony Bennett to Perform at the Metropolitan Opera September 18, 2011
The Met presents the legendary singer in a special celebration of his 85th birthday
Program will include selections from the Great American Songbook
Tickets go on sale Sunday, June 5th
NEW YORK, June 1, 2011 -- The Metropolitan Opera will present Tony Bennett in a special concert, the legendary singer's first appearance on the Met stage, on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 7 p.m. The concert will be the first in a series of events celebrating Bennett's 85th birthday and leading up to the release of the 15-time Grammy winner's upcoming album, Duets II (RPM/Columbia Records), which is scheduled for a September 20th release. Tickets to the concert, which range from $50 to $350, will go on sale at metopera.org or (212) 362-6000 at 12 p.m. on Sunday, June 5th.
The concert will feature pop standards from the Great American Songbook, many of which Bennett has introduced and recorded to critical and popular acclaim that led to a string of greatest hits over his 60-year career. The quartet performing with Bennett is composed of pianist Lee Musiker, guitarist Gray Sargent, drummer Harold Jones, and bassist Marshall Wood.
"I've been practicing my whole life to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House," Bennett said. "It's a dream come true."
The Met has previously presented a variety of popular artists in concert, including Barbara Cook (2006), Kristin Chenoweth (2007), Sting (2010), and Andrea Bocelli (2011).
Bennett's Duets II CD, one of the most highly anticipated releases of this year, will be available on September 20th. It is a follow up to his multi-Grammy Award winning Duets: An American Classic and will be available at a variety of retailers, including the Met Opera Shop. Please visit www.tonybennett.com for more information.
Notes to Editors
About Tony Bennett
The son of a grocer and Italian-born immigrant, Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in the Astoria section of Queens, New York. He attended the High School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, where he nurtured his dual passions, singing and painting. His boyhood idols included Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, both big influences on Bennett's easy, natural singing style. Bennett sang while waiting tables as a teenager then performed with military bands throughout his overseas Army duty during World War II. After the war, the GI Bill enabled him to study vocal technique at the American Theatre Wing School. The first time he sang in a nightclub was 1946 when he sat in with trombonist Tyree Glenn at the Shangri-La in Astoria.
Bennett's big break came in 1949 when comedian Bob Hope noticed him working with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village. As he recalls, "Bob Hope came down to check out my act. He liked my singing so much that after the show he came back to see me in my dressing room and said, 'Come on kid, you're going to come to the Paramount and sing with me.' But first he told me he didn't care for my stage name (Joe Bari) and asked me what my real name was. I told him, 'My name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto,' and he said, 'We'll call you Tony Bennett.' And that's how it happened. A new Americanized name, the start of a wonderful career and a glorious adventure that has continued for sixty years."
With worldwide record sales in the millions, and dozens of platinum and gold albums to his credit, Bennett has received fifteen Grammy Awards including the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The MTV generation first took Tony Bennett to heart during his appearance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the 1993 MTV Video Awards. He appeared on MTV Unplugged and the resulting recording of the same name garnered him the top Grammy Award for Album of the Year. "Tony Bennett has not just bridged the generation gap," observed The New York Times, "he has demolished it. He has solidly connected with a younger crowd weaned on rock. And there have been no compromises." Bennett credits his eldest son and manager, Danny, for his success in capturing a whole new generation of listeners. His most recent CD release was the holiday recording Tony Bennett: A Swingin' Christmas Featuring the Count Basie Orchestra, which has become a yearly seasonal favorite. In 2009 he re-signed to Columbia Records, continuing his status as the artist signed for the greatest period of time in the label's history.
His initial fame came via a string of Columbia singles in the early 1950s, including such chart-toppers as "Because of You," "Rags To Riches" and a cover of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart." He has placed two-dozen songs in the Top 40, including "I Wanna Be Around," "The Good Life," "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" and his signature hit, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," which earned him two Grammy Awards. Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums chart in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and into the new millennium. He introduced a multitude of songs into the Great American Songbook that have since become pop music standards. He has toured the world to sold out audiences, winning rave reviews whenever he performs. Bennett re-signed with Columbia Records in 1986 and released the critically acclaimed The Art Of Excellence. Since his show-stopping performance of "When Do the Bells Ring for Me," from his Astoria album, at the 1991 Grammy Awards, he has been awarded Grammys for Steppin' Out, Perfectly Frank, MTV Unplugged, Playin' with My Friends, The Art of Romance and Duets: An American Classic. In celebration of his unparalleled contributions to popular music, Columbia/Legacy assembled Forty Years: The Artistry Of Tony Bennett. The four-CD boxed set, released in 1991, chronicled the singer's stellar recording career and documents his growth as an artist inspiring Time magazine to call the collection "... the essence of why CD boxed sets are a blessing." Recently, thanks to Bennett's remarkable career longevity, the set has been updated and expanded, with the title changed from Forty Years to Fifty Years.
He became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005, and was named an NEA Jazz Master in January of 2006 and was also named the recipient of Billboard magazine's elite Century Award, in honor of his outstanding contributions to music. A supporter of charitable efforts throughout his career, Tony was honored by the United Nations receiving their Humanitarian Award in 2007 and has raised millions of dollars for the American Cancer Society and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. With his wife Susan, he established Exploring the Arts to support and fund arts education in NYC public schools and founded in 2001 the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a NYC public arts high school with a state of the art facility in his hometown of Astoria, Queens.
Along with an extraordinary career in music, Bennett is a prolific and critically acclaimed artist and painter whose work has been seen all over the world, including three paintings that are currently in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
Bennett has also authored three books: What My Heart Has Seen, a beautifully bound edition of his paintings published in 1996;The Good Life, his heartfelt autobiography released in 1998; and Tony Bennett In the Studio, a sumptuous salute to his dual career as singer and painter, published in 2007. He has been the subject of both a filmed biography produced by Clint Eastwood and a major television special, Tony Bennett: An American Classic, which aired on NBC in autumn 2006 and won seven Emmy Awards making it the most honored television program at the 2007 Emmy Awards ceremony.
SOURCE RPM/Columbia Records