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Barbara Cook To Sing At Metropolitan Opera

NEW YORK (AP) — Barbara Cook, the former Broadway ingenue who found her greatest success as a cabaret singer, will be the first female pop singer presented in concert by the Metropolitan Opera.

Cook is scheduled to perform at the Met on Jan. 20. The only other pop singer to be presented by the Met was the late singer and actor Yves Montand.

"The quality of her singing and the high level of artistry that she has certainly puts her in a class by herself," the Met's spokesman, Peter Clark, told The Associated Press on Monday.

"She is just thrilled because she happens to be a huge opera fan and goes to the opera all the time, so it's one of the highlights of her career. It's a big deal," said Cook's manager, Jerry Kravat.

Kravat said he had been in talks to have Cook perform at the Met about 10 years ago, but a concert date never materialized.

But two years ago, she appeared as a special guest at the Met's New Year's Eve performance of "The Merry Widow," which renewed discussions on having her perform.

Cook, 78, became a star more than five decades ago as Broadway's leading ingenue — the go-to gal when producers needed a fresh, young face and a beautiful voice. She earned a Tony Award for her performance in "The Music Man."

But her Broadway career waned in the 1960s, and she fell into alcoholism before she reinvented herself as a torch singer. She went on to perform at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at London's Albert Hall, among other venues. Her revue of "Mostly Sondheim," in which she performed Stephen Sondheim songs, was a critical and commercial success.

Kravat said Cook would have some surprises for her January show, including unannounced guests.

"It will be something special," he said.