Music Academy of the West to Honor Marilyn Horne with CARMEN in 2014
The Music Academy of the West will honor legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, the director of the Academy's renowned Voice Program who celebrates her 80th birthday on January 16, 2014, with special programming during its 2014 Summer Festival. The centerpiece of the Horne tribute programming will be a new production of Georges Bizet's immensely popular opera Carmen, one of the iconic mezzo's signature roles. Related programming next summer will include a screening of the 1954 musical film Carmen Jones, which features Horne's dubbed singing for actress Dorothy Dandridge. Additional events will be announced in the coming months.
"Many regard Carmen as the perfect opera, and it has maintained a constant place in the repertoire since its premiere in 1875," said Horne, whose celebrated history with Bizet's masterpiece includes singing the title role to open the Met's 1972-73 season. That production, which also featured Leonard Bernstein as conductor, went on to garner a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 1974. "Whoever sings Carmen has to bring a lot of herself to the character. That's one of the reasons she's so interesting."
"Such was her thrilling prowess in so many roles, but especially as Carmen, that we can't think of a more fitting tribute to this extraordinary artist and Music Academy advocate," said Academy President Scott Reed. The new production, to be conducted by James Gaffigan and directed by David Paul, will take place during the Academy's 2014 season, which runs from June 16 to August 9 in Santa Barbara, California. Hailed as "a magnet for some of the country's most gifted young musicians" (Santa Barbara News-Press), the Music Academy of the West ranks among the nation's pre-eminent summer music schools and festivals, and is the only one of its kind on the West Coast.
Horne's Music Academy roots extend back to 1953 when she attended the Summer School and Festival as a Vocal Fellow. Alumni from the elite program that she now directs include Metropolitan Opera stars Juan Diego Flórez ('95), Susanna Phillips ('02, '03), Isabel Leonard ('05), and Alek Shrader ('08). The Academy's Marilyn Horne Song Competition is an annual highlight of the Summer Festival; the 2013 winners, baritone John Brancy and pianist Mario Marra, will be presented by the Academy in recitals in California and New York City in March 2014.
Marilyn Horne has been called the "Star-Spangled Singer" and "the Heifetz of singers." In 2002, following a career that had seen her dominate her field for more than four decades, Opera News declared, "Marilyn Horne, whose face and song have been in the light - in so many places, in so many styles, through so many media, for so many years - may be the most influential singer in American history." In the words of esteemed KUSC commentator and host Jim Svejda, she is "America's greatest living singer." During her distinguished career Horne has garnered numerous honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Gramophone magazine. She was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1995, received the National Medal of Arts in 1992, and has been inducted into the American Classical Music and Hollywood Bowl halls of fame. She was named a National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors recipient in 2009. Horne has performed in more than 1,300 recitals, made well over 100 recordings, and received three Grammy Awards. Her most recent recording, Marilyn Horne - Just for the Record: The Golden Voice, is a retrospective of her career and includes classical songs, opera arias, and American standards. She assumed the directorship of the Music Academy of the West's Voice Program in 1997.