The Washington National Opera will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first performance next year -- and, in typical Washington fashion, a party of grand proportions is planned.

On March 19, a program and social event called the Golden Gala will take place at the Kennedy Center Opera House. The cast will include not only WNO General Director Placido Domingo but also some leading singers and musicians, including sopranos Denyce Graves, Elizabeth Futral, Anja Kampe and Anna Netrebko, tenors Juan Diego Florez, Salvatore Licitra and Carlos Alvarez, bass Samuel Ramey and violinist Vadim Repin.

WNO Music Director Heinz Fricke will conduct; Selwa "Lucky" Roosevelt, former White House chief of protocol, will chair the evening.

One highlight will be the world premiere of a brief comic opera by Marvin Hamlisch ("A Chorus Line") and librettist Sheldon Harnick ("Fiddler on the Roof"). The piece, described as a spoof, will feature Domingo in tandem with Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. Immediately after the event, there will be a gala dinner on the Roof Terrace.

Tickets for the concert-dinner package start at $1,000 and are available now; call 202-295-2431 or e-mail specialevents@dc-opera.org. Tickets for the concert alone will be available later this fall, through the WNO box office or www.dc-opera.org, and will cost $50 to $250.

-- Tim Page