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Reminder: first NEA Opera Awards presented tonight

The NEA Opera Honors, the nation's first awards for exceptional contributions to opera, will be bestowed tonight in Washington to illustrious soprano Leontyne Price, eminent conductor James Levine, distinctive composer Carlisle Floyd and innovative administrator Richard Gaddes. The awards mark the first individual honorifc from the National Endowment for the Arts in more than 25 years.

The awards ceremony/concert at 8 p.m. at the Harmon Center is open to the public; at last check, some unclaimed tickets remain and will be released at 7:30 p.m. to the public at no charge. After the hall is filled, another 300 free tickets will be made available for people who can watch a live video feed of the event in a nearby room.

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The bad news for celebrity-watchers (as if the chance to see Leontyne isn't enough) is that Sarah Jessica Parker has canceled as co-host "due to last-minute professional commitments," but the other co-host, marvelous mezzo Susan Graham, will still be there to emcee and help pass out the awards, along with brilliant tenor and general director of Washington National Opera Placido Domingo, and others. Domingo will also conduct part of the concert during the evening, which features soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and members of WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists program.

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