Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves & ‘Hamilton’ Star Leslie Odom Jr. Headline Washington National Opera Opera Gala

By Francisco Salazar

The Washington National Opera has announced an Opera Gala to conclude its 2016-17 season.

The 2017 WNO Opera Gala, celebrating WNO Board Chairman Jacqueline Badger Mars, will take place on Saturday, June 3, 2017, and will include a concert in the Kennedy Center Opera House featuring the WNO Orchestra and an array of musical stars who will pay special tribute to Mars’s visionary leadership of WNO.

“I have been honored to work with Jacquie Mars since 2008, and her imaginative leadership and guidance have brought WNO unparalleled growth and success while also making the opera more accessible to a broader audience,” said WNO executive director Michael L. Mael in a press release. “Our next Chairman will certainly have big shoes to fill, but I am happy that Jacquie will continue to steer this company as a WNO trustee

Among the featured guests will include legendary soprano Renée Fleming, superstar mezzo-soprano and D.C. native Denyce Graves, and Hamilton Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. No other artists were announced in the press release.

Jacquie has been a vital part of the company as she founded the American Opera Initiative, which for the last five seasons has helped identify the brightest rising American composers and librettists and has added their work to the repertory. She has also helped to program the annual opera for families at the holiday season, including “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Little Prince,” and the world premiere commission of “The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me.” She also helped in bringing the company’s first-ever complete Ring cycle in 2016.

The Washington National Opera will conclude its 2016-17 season with Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” starring Ermomela Jaho. The production opens May 6.