Martina Arroyo Receives 2013 Kennedy Center Honors on CBS-TV, 12/29
In recognition of her outstanding lifetime contribution to American culture, Martina Arroyo was saluted as one of five recipients of this year's Kennedy Center Honors in a star-studded gala celebration held on December 8 that will be broadcast nationwide as a two-hour prime time special on CBS-TV this Sunday, December 29 at 9pm, ET/PT. Seated with President and Mrs. Obama at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as with her fellow honorees (actress Shirley MacLaine and musicians Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel and Carlos Santana), the pre-eminent American soprano was introduced in a speech by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who also narrated a short video about Arroyo. She was then saluted by a musical tribute celebrating her legendary portrayal of the title role in Verdi's Aida. First, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja performed Radames's aria "Celeste Aida," and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sang Aida's aria "O patria mia." Then the two star singers were joined by graduates of the Martina Arroyo Foundation's programs-Ryan Speedo Green, Chantelle Grant, Robert Kerr, and Yuriy Yurchuk-as well as the Army Herald Trumpets and the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, to perform the opera's Act II finale.
The Martina Arroyo Foundation offers two intensive programs of study, coaching, and performance, both of which provide immersive preparation of complete operatic roles. Prelude to Performance offers a tuition-free, six-week intensive training program that culminates in four fully staged opera performances sung in the original language with supertitles-complete with sets, costumes, and orchestra-at a prominent New York venue. The foundation has offered masterclasses by such artists as Stephanie Blythe, Eric Owens and Tito Capobianco. Similarly, in Role Preparation Class, which takes place over twelve weeks each spring, each participant learns a complete operatic role for performance in a public recital of operatic ensembles.
Alumni of the Martina Arroyo Foundation may be found performing on leading professional stages around the world; they include soprano Eleni Calenos; tenors Michele Angelini, Taylor Stayton, Won Whi Choi, and Noah Stewart; baritone Steven LaBrie; and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green. By offering tuition-free training, the foundation is able to select and support talented artists from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds; past participants have come from Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa as well as the United States. As Green, one of five winners of the Metropolitan Opera's prestigious National Council Auditions, explains:
"Being able to spend up to six weeks studying every nuance of an operatic role...is priceless. The program truly helped bring my artistry to the next level."
As NY1 News observes, "The program is a unique opportunity for these young talents to hone their skills and learn from someone who sang in many of the world's leading opera houses."