Friday May 31, 2024

07:00 PM - 9:00 am

New York City Opera kicks off Celebrating 100 Years of Giacomo Puccini, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passing of Giacomo Puccini, one of the greatest opera composers in history, and kicks off with Puccini Celebration as part of the Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America on May 31 & June 1, 2024 at 7pm at Bryant Park, NYC. Entry is on a first-come, first-served basis. Performances are designed to be enjoyed casually – no tickets required – with ample seating available and free picnic blankets for audience members to borrow. For more information, visit bryantpark.org/picnics.


For anyone unable to attend in person, a free livestream broadcast of the performance will be available nationwide via Bryant Park’s website and social media platforms.

“My favorite part of performing outdoors is how the music soars under the stars,” says Michael Capasso, General Director, New York City Opera. “The magic oasis of Bryant Park in the summer can’t be beat, surrounded by the iconic New York City landscape. We are “The People’s Opera,” and through our partnership with Bryant Park, we are thrilled to present our favorite offerings for free to thousands of New Yorkers.”

Dan Fishman, Vice President of Public Events at Bryant Park, says “Picnic Performances aims to make New York City’s extraordinary arts and culture accessible to everyone. Without the barriers of traditional venues and with the help of extraordinary partners including New York City Opera, Bryant Park becomes a great setting for newcomers to hear opera for the first time and for longtime fans to experience these lasting works in a new way.”

New York City Opera was famously dubbed “The People’s Opera” by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia at its founding in 1943. More than 75 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.​ Picnic Performances continues the tradition of opera in Bryant Park.

Puccini Celebration

Bryant Park, 42nd Street, (Between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas), NYC, NY

Friday, May 31, 2024 at 7:00 pm and Saturday, June 1, 2024 at 7:00 pm

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.

Kristin Sampson, soprano

Ashley Bell, soprano

Victor Starsky, tenor

WooYoung Yoon, tenor

Todd Thomas, baritone

Tatev Baroyan, soprano

Celebrating 100 Years of Giacomo Puccini continues later this summer with perennial favorite, Tosca, presented by New York City Opera at Bryant Park on Friday, August 23, 2024 at 7:00pm and Saturday, August 24, 2024 at 7:00pm.

About the Performers

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. 

Kristin Sampson, soprano

Praised by The New York Times for her “bright, sizable and expressive voice,” Mexican-born American soprano Kristin Sampson’s 2023-2024 performances include returning to the signature roles of Minnie in La fanciulla del West and Tosca, and concert performances with New York City Opera, The Accord Symphony Orchestra, and Washington Opera Society. Other recent performances include a company debut as Tosca with Connecticut Lyric Opera, a workshop of Jake Landau’s Psyche, a debut and return engagement with the Kauno Filharmonijain in Lithuania under the baton of Maestro Constantine Orbelian, a company debut with Opera Grand Rapids as Liù in Turandot, a role debut as Marguerite in Faust with the Washington Opera Society, and concerts with NYCO and WOS. Additionally, Ms. Sampson performed as Magda in La campana sommersa, as well as Minnie in La fanciulla del West with NYCO, a role she has also sung with Opera Carolina, Teatro del Giglio in Lucca, Teatro Goldoni in Livorno, and Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony and her debut at the Festival Puccini in Torre del Lago as Tosca. 

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. 

About New York City Opera

Founded as “The People’s Opera” by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in 1943, New York City Opera (NYCO) has remained a critical part of the city’s cultural life. Launching the careers of dozens of major artists, presenting engaging productions of both mainstream and lesser-known operas alongside commissions and regional premieres, NYCO has continued to endure as a uniquely American opera company of international stature with a distinct identity and singular mission: affordable ticket prices, a devotion to American works, English-language performances, the promotion of up-and-coming American singers, and seasons of accessible, vibrant and compelling productions intended to introduce new audiences to the art form.

Stars who launched their careers at New York City Opera include Plácido Domingo, Catherine Malfitano, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Beverly Sills, Tatiana Troyanos, Carol Vaness, and Shirley Verrett, among dozens of other great artists. New York City Opera has also presented such talents as Anna Caterina Antonacci and Aprile Millo in concert, as well as its own 75th Anniversary Concert in Bryant Park.

New York City Opera forged a path of inclusion and diversity in the arts. It was the first major opera company to feature African American singers in leading roles (Todd Duncan as Tonio in Pagliacci, 1945 and Camilla Williams in the title role of Madama Butterfly, 1946); the first to produce a new work by an African American composer (William Grant Still, Troubled Island, 1949); and the first to have an African-American conductor lead its orchestra (Everett Lee, 1955).

A revitalized City Opera re-opened in January 2016 with Tosca, the opera that originally launched the company in 1944. Outstanding productions since then include: the world premieres of Iain Bell and Mark Campbell’s Stonewall, commissioned and developed by NYCO), legendary director Harold Prince’s new production of Bernstein’s Candide; Puccini’s beloved La Fanciulla del West; and the New York premiere of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas — the first in NYCO’s Ópera en Español series. Subsequent Ópera en Español productions include the New York premiere of the world’s first mariachi opera, José “Pepe” Martinez’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Literes’s Los Elementos, and Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires. NYCO’s Pride Initiative, which produces an LGBTQ-themed work each June during Pride Month, includes such productions as the New York premiere of Péter Eötvös’s Angels in America and the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain.

New York City Opera continues its legacy with regular main stage performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, an acclaimed summer series in Bryant Park that brings free performances to thousands of New Yorkers annually, and revitalized outreach and education programs at venues throughout the city that are designed to welcome and inspire a new generation of opera audiences.

New York City Opera:


Instagram: @nycopera


Twitter: @nycityopera

About Bryant Park

Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a private not-for-profit company, was founded in 1980 to renovate, finance and operate Bryant Park in New York City. BPC is funded by income from events, concessions, and corporate sponsors, as well as an assessment on neighboring properties, and does not accept government or philanthropic monies. In addition to providing security, sanitation, and horticultural services, BPC offers restaurants, food kiosks, world-class restrooms, and a wide range of free events throughout the year. The Midtown Manhattan park is visited by more than 12 million people each year and is one of the busiest public spaces in the world. BPC’s website, bryantpark.org, offers more detailed information and a schedule of upcoming events.

Friday May 31, 2024

7:00 pm - 9:00 am

All Ages

Cover: FREE

New York City Opera presents Puccini Celebration: Celebrating 100 Years of Giacomo Puccini as part of Bryant Park Picnic Performances