Ms. Martina was born in New York City on this day in 1937. The younger of two children of Demetrio Arroyo, an immigrant from Puerto Rico, and Lucille Washington, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, Ms. Martina enjoyed much success as a soprano - but, it might not have been.
In 1957, a 20 year old Ms. Martina auditioned for the Met but was declined. Somewhat disheartened, she began working on a Masters degree in comparative literature at New York University. The following year, she auditioned again and won the Met's Audition of the Air competition which was a pre-cursor to the National Council Auditions. In March of 1959, she made her official debut as the Celestial Voice in Verdi's Don Carlo.
After an operatic career that spanned 30 years, Ms Martina retired officially from the operatic stage in 1987. Always candid about her perceived status as second-best to her colleague Leontyne Price; once, when a Met doorman greeted her as "Miss Price", she sweetly replied, "No, honey: I'm the other one."
Happy Birthday, Ms. Martina!