Friday, October 28, 2011

Jackie! Celebrating Marilyn Horne

Marilyn Horne at the WQXR Studio
This coming Monday, the Metropolitan Opera Guild is paying tribute to operatic legend, Marilyn Horne. The Guild’s 77th annual luncheon, titled “Jackie! Celebrating Marilyn Horne”, will feature tributes from her colleagues; live and prerecorded performances including a musical tribute by fellow mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. Among the 800 guests expected to attend are a bevy of stars and fans of opera, as well as an array of New York’s society, business and civic leaders.

Unfortunately, Yours Truly will not be in attendance. And honestly, it's a damned shame. [sigh]

Anyway, current Met stars Bryn Terfel and Deborah Voigt will be on hand, along with many Met stars of the past, including Martina Arroyo, Richard Bonynge, Roberta Peters, Renata Scotto and Frederica von Stade. Also attending will be Miss Horne’s friends, such as stage and screen actress Tyne Daly (who recently starred to great acclaim in a revival of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class), TV and stage actress Florence Henderson, and famed soprano Marni Nixon (who provided the film singing voices for Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, and Natalie Wood). Proceeds from the event will benefit the Guild’s education programs in New York City and throughout the country.

Widely known by her nickname Jackie, General Marilyn Horne is beloved by the public and critics alike for her incandescent artistry and ebullient personality. While giving definitive performances of some of the most important characters in the mezzo-soprano repertory, and also reviving interest in many neglected Baroque and bel canto works on the operatic stage, she also appeared on television a number of times. Most notably on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Odd Couple (where she played Jackie, a secretary who secretly pined to be an opera diva). Horne was of the opinion that if she appeared on television, it might inspire someone to actually go to the theater and see a live performance. It was good PR for the art form.

An impassioned advocate for the art-song recital, her Marilyn Horne Foundation, promoted recitals as well as provided extensive teaching and mentoring. In July of last year, the programs of the Marilyn Horne Foundation became part of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. With Marilyn Horne as the Artistic Advisor, these programs will continue the work of her foundation and will be part of the Marilyn Horne Legacy at Carnegie Hall.

Marilyn Horne discusses her remarkable career at length with WQXR’s Naomi Lewin in an interview available here, and in a broadcast on WQXR this Saturday, October 29, after Saturday at the Opera.

Congratulations on being honored, Ms. Horne. You are one in a million!

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