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Metropolitan Opera Stars to Make Sweet Music with Village Orchestra

By Andrea Swalec | April 25, 2013 6:30am

MANHATTAN — Maestro Pierre Vallet spends his days inside the elegant halls of the Metropolitan Opera House, conducting some of the most accomplished musicians in the world.

Come nightfall for the past six weeks, the 25-year Met veteran has been heading Downtown to lead a community orchestra inside a high school auditorium.

Bringing a taste of the Met to the masses, Vallet will lead the Greenwich Village Orchestra through a selection of Wagner's finest at a Sunday afternoon performance, with tickets priced at just $15 each.

Vallet and the 70-person community orchestra performing for its 26th season will be joined by Grammy Award-winning Met dramatic soprano Christine Goerke and up-and-coming baritone Jesse Blumberg.

The GVO musicians, some of whom have retired from full-time music careers, approach performing with the same level of dedication as the violinists and flutists who play at the Met, Vallet said.

"The level of enthusiasm, energy and skill is quite remarkable," the 50-year-old Parisian-turned-Upper West Sider said. "It's really exactly the same."

Vallet, who was invited to work with the GVO by music director Barbara Yahr, said he was inspired in his day job by the musicians he met by night.

"A community orchestra will follow you with no preconceived idea. They're flexible," he said. "For these people, this is an opportunity to be able to make music."

After performing for years at Washington Irving High School on Irving Place near Union Square, most GVO concerts are now held on the Old Stuyvesant Campus at 345 E. 15th St. near First Avenue, where Sunday's show will be held.

Admission to the Opera Spectacular show of Wagner's greatest highlights on Sunday at 3 p.m. costs a suggested donation of $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children.

The volunteer musicians will play to the height of their abilities, Vallet said.

"The program pushes the range of all the instruments to the utmost possibility," he said.