Russo, who has recently undergone chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer, will be conducting the orchestra out of more than simply a love of music. All proceeds from the performance will be donated to local organizations that service people with cancer. Tickets range from $15 to $200. The orchestra is scheduled to play selections from Beethoven, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Mozart's Per Questa Bella Man K 612 and Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor."This should be really fun," said the mayor recently. "We are keeping the piece that I am conducting a surprise. Actually, I don't even know what it is going to be yet. But it should be fun. It's for a good cause."
Russo said that he planned to put in some practice with the Maestro Franco Bertacci, the orchestra's usual conductor, before the performance.
Officials with the orchestra said that they were inspired to use the opening night performance to raise funds for the cause because, in part, of the mayor's recent diagnosis.
"Part of the mission of the orchestra is to give back to the community," said Lyric President Steve Abel last week. "Every year we have a world AIDS concert - and we will again this year - but we also recognize that there have been a number of people in the community who have been hit with cancer in the last year, including the mayor. And we wanted to do something to address the issue."
Though this will only be the orchestra's third season together, this is not the first time that it has used its power to entertain to raise money for local causes. When Hoboken High School Teacher John Sacci was shot and killed in front of the school two years ago, the orchestra raised nearly $10,000 to help his family, Abel said.
The president also said that he was not at all concerned about the world-class orchestra, which is composed primarily of recent graduates from the Juliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, losing its way under the untrained hand of the mayor.
"The mayor is going to practice with us beforehand so that we will all look good doing it," said Abel. "The baton will come down at the right time and he will keep rhythm. Also keep in mind that these are world-class musicians who can play some pieces with their eyes closed."
The performance with Russo is not the only new project the orchestra is working on.
It has also recently completed recordings that are said to be the first of their kind. The recordings were done on Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, a new DVD format. "The listener is right in the center of the ensemble - you hear everything," said Bertacci last month in explaining the new technology. "Some conductors are not going to like this format because it makes traditional orchestral blending less of an issue, and instead highlights the vibrancy of the orchestra's sections and individual players."
For tickets to the performance, call 217-2628.