Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Stars turn out for NY opera gala

 Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Natalie Dessay, and Juan Diego Florez
Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorgiu and colleagues applauded Domingo's long career with the Met

Placido Domingo was joined on stage by a host of world class singers for a gala to mark the Metropolitan Opera's 125th anniversary.

The four-hour performance doubled up as a celebration of Domingo's 40th year performing with the company.

The evening also served to showcase the Met's upcoming season for the celebrity filled audience.

Natalie Dessay previewed her role in La Traviata whilst Domingo sang from the forthcoming Simon Boccanegra.

The 68-year-old will make his debut in the opera's title role in January 2010. Domingo has sung 45 roles and conducted nine operas at the Met but Boccanegra is an unusual choice for the tenor as it was written for a baritone voice.

He gave the audience a taste of what was to come in a duet with soprano Angela Gheorghiu from the Verdi work.

Before the performance Domingo told the International Herald Tribune: "Maybe this Simon Boccanegra I really will make the last thing.

"I will never sing one more day than I should, but I should not sing one day less than I can.

Mary Kate Olsen
Mary-Kate Olsen chose the event to unveil her new look

'Great artists'

Soprano Deborah Voigt and tenor Ben Heppner previewed the new Ring cycle by singing the closing duet from Wagner's Siegfried, while Maria Guleghina and Stephanie Blythe performed together from Verdi's Aida.

In all the evening romped through extracts from 23 different operas, all conducted by music director James Levine, who is approaching his own 40th anniversary with the company.

New York's celebrity scene was out in force for the evening. Mary-Kate Olson, Diane Kruger, Claire Danes, Jeremy Irons, Claudia Schiffer and Willem Dafoe were all in the audience along with Kanye West.

The rapper commented: "It's just great to have the pop music outlet to help bring great artists to the forefront and I'm just happy to get invited to this event."

The sold out gala raised $6.3 m (4.4m).

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