Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jill Krementz covers the Met Opera Guild Luncheon

Marilyn Horne singing "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair," from a 1983 "Live from Lincoln Center" concert.

This photograph appeared in one of two video sequences shown during the luncheon. A highlight of the afternoon, they were written and produced by Paul Gruber, Executive Director of the Guild's Program Development.
Celebrating Marilyn Horne
The Metropolitan Opera Guild
October 31, 2011

Marilyn Horne, who is known as "Jackie," is one of the greatest opera singers of our time. A legendary American mezzo-soprano, Ms. Horne has had an unparalleled five-decade career in opera, concert and recital. Born in Pennsylvania in 1934, she made her debut as Adalgisa in Norma (1970).

The beloved diva sang 23 seasons at the Met starring in new productions of Carmen, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, L'Italiana in Algeri, Aida, Don Carlo, Le Prophete, Semiramide, and Pelleas et Melisande, as well as the company premiere of Handel's Rinaldo.

A veteran of more than 1,300 recitals in the U.S. and abroad, Horne launched the Marilyn Horne Foundation in 1994 to support young singers and the art of song. She is Vocal Director of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.

On Monday, she was honored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild at its 77th annual luncheon held in the Waldorf's Grand Ballroom. On hand to honor Ms. Horne were Stephanie Blythe, Martina Arroyo, Bryn Terfel, Frederica von Stade, Florence Henderson, Tyne Daly, Frank Corsaro, Robert White, and Ms. Horne's daughter, Angela Lewis Houle.

Met director Peter Gelb sent his regrets saying he was in the midst of a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Philip Glass production. "Gandhi and an orchestra stage rehearsal of Satyagraha have kept me a prisoner at the Met today. At least it wasn't a singer crisis. It's still too early in the day for most of them to have figured out what might be wrong."
A huge photograph of Marilyn Horne, known as Jackie, was projected on the wall behind the dais of the Waldorf's Grand Ballroom.
Marilyn Horne, the legendary mezzo-soprano and guest of honor.

Ms. Horne is one of the giants of American opera, beloved for her artistry and personality.
Winthrop Rutherfurd and Richard Miller greeted guests as they arrived for a private reception in the West Foyer before the luncheon.

Mr. Rutherfurd is the Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera Guild as well as an Advisory Director of the Met. Mr. Miller is the President of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
Louis Miano and Jean Vanderbilt. Mr. Miano, who is on the board of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, hosted a benefactor's table. Ms. Vanderbilt was one of his guests, as was I. Stephanie Blythe, acclaimed mezzo-soprano.
Catia Chapin, who is on the board of the Guild. She is the widow of Schuyler Chapin, who was the General Manager of the Met from 1972-1975. Keiko Nishida, whose husband, Yukio Takasu is the Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations.
Victor Callegari had been in charge of the Met's Makeup Department for 44 years. Ted Porter, President of the Board of Gotham Chamber Opera, and Domna Stanton, GCO's Vice-President. The premiere of Nico Muhly's opera Dark Sisters, for the GCO is on November 9.
Bill Bardel, a former banker with Lehman Brothers. Soprano Martina Arroyo made her Met debut in Don Carlo, 1959.
Frederica von Stade and Mercedes Bass. Ms. von Stade, a mezzo-soprano, made her Met debut in Die Zauberflöte in 1970. I saw her so many times in Hansel and Gretel. Mrs. Bass is Vice Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera.
Martina Arroyo, Harolyn Blackwell, and Mercedes Bass. Harolyn Blackwell is a lyric coloratura soprano who sang at the Met in Strauss's Die Fledermaus.
Mercedes Bass checks out her phone messages before the luncheon. Susan Braddock, a Managing Director of the Metropolitan Opera, and Mercedes Bass.
Barbara Chase and her mother, Florence Henderson. Ms Henderson has recently published her memoir: Life Is Not a Stage; From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond (Hachette).
Ann Ziff and Theodore Kurz. Ms. Ziff is a very attractive advertisement for the jewelry she designs and now sells in her store Tamsen Z on Madison Avenue. Mr. Kurz is with Debevoise & Plimpton. Baritone Bryn Terfel, who made his Met debut in Le Nozze de Figaro, 1994.
Emily Rafferty, who is the President of The Metropolitan Museum. Met conductor Richard Bonynge, Marilyn Horne, and DeAndre Simmons. Mr. Simmons is an American bass-baritone who has performed with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the San Diego Opera, the Little Opera of New Jersey, and others. He is a protégé of Ms. Horne's and is an alumnus of her academy voice program.
Met conductor Richard Bonynge, Marilyn Horne, and Ms. Horne's daughter, Angela Lewis Houle.
This year the Opera Guild Luncheon fell on Halloween so there were small pumpkins on the table centerpieces. Felix Perea did the floral arrangements.
Richard Miller takes his place on the dais. Marilyn Horne makes her entrance to thunderous applause.
On the dais: Kevin Kennedy, President and CEO of the Met, and Mercedes Bass.
There were two video sequences. The first was a biography of Marilyn, produced by the Guild for the event and narrated by Tyne Daly.

The second was a medley of Marilyn's performances, also produced by the Guild for this luncheon. It included performances from the Met, Live from Lincoln Center and other concerts.
The singer at age twelve.
An early recording.
Igor and Vera Stravinsky were friends of Ms. Horne.
Marilyn Horne when she went to Europe to study voice.
Marilyn Horne with her husband, conductor Henry Lewis.
Sutherland and Horne.
Proud parents with their daughter Angela.
Mother and daughter at the piano.
A family Christmas.
Marilyn Horne in her 1970 Metropolitan Opera debut as Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma, with Sutherland in the title role.
Marilyn Horne with Eileen Farrell on The Carol Burnett Show, 1971.
The second video was a medley of Marilyn's performances, also produced by the Guild for this luncheon. It included performances from the Met, Live from Lincoln Center and other concerts.

Here you see Ms. Horne performing "L'Italiana in Algeri" by Rossini at the Met.
Taking a curtain call in front of the big gold curtain at the Met.
L'Italiana in Algeri" by Rossini at the Met.
Beverly Sills and Marilyn Horne in Rossini's The Siege of Corinth (L'Assedio di Corinto).
Making history in 1984 in the title role of Rinaldo, the first Handel opera ever to be presented at the Metropolitan Opera.
Dame Joan and Marilyn Horne.
Marilyn Horne in her role as mentor and teacher at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
Jackie with her three grandchildren.
The tributes began with Frederica ("Flicka") von Stade reading a letter from Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Met:

Jackie, I wish I were here on this dais joining the chorus of bravas in saluting your unsurpassed career. No Met season goes by without thinking of your artistry and achievements, so it certainly is appropriate that you are being honored so lavishly today. This Met season is no exception, as we prepare a revival of Handel's Rodelinda and the world premiere of our Baroque pastiche, The Enchanted Island.

It was you, of course, who paved the way for Baroque music at the Met, breaking the Baroque barrier in 1984 with Rinaldo, the first time a Handel opera was ever performed at the Met. Since your triumphant debut as Adalgisa to Sutherland's Norma in 1970 -- which, as a young usher, I listened to enthralled -- to your retirement from our stage in 1996 as Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, you set the standard for mezzo artistry, musicianship and stardom.
But you always kept a healthy perspective on the wacky world of opera, helped by your incisive wit. After all, it was you who said in response to a singer's whine about the Met being too big -- "no, honey, your voice is just too small." Jackie, your luscious voice and your generous artistic heart were always just the right size for the Met.

Congratulations and cheers from all of your fans and admirers at the Met and around the opera world. Bravissima!
A high five from conductor Richard Bonyange.
A major supporter of the arts, Mimi Levitt, is a big donor to New York's Living Landmarks and to the Met
Opera Guild.
Louise Hirschfeld Cullman.
After lunch, and before dessert, Stephanie Blythe performed.

She sang "Amarilli" by Caccini, "To The Land of My Own Romance" from Victor Herbert's operetta, Sweethearts, and Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do."
"I've had it up to here with arias," Stephanie Blythe told the audience.
Jane Scovell, Marilyn Horne's biographer, salutes "Jackie" from her seat.
Matthew Epstein also paid tribute. Mr. Epstein was a very influential artists' manager for many years, director of the vocal division of CAMI (Columbia Artists Management Inc.), and now teaches all around the country.

Epstein has also been an artistic consultant for many opera companies, and a trusted manager and advisor to many singers, including Marilyn.
Angela Lewis Houle, who is the daughter of Marilyn Horne. Ms. Houle teaches psychology at Pepperdine University. Her three children appear regularly on Jackie's Christmas card. Angela Houle pays tribute to her mother.

"Over the years I've been able to come to appreciate my mother and what she brings to music. When my third child was born, I listened to her duets with Joan Sutherland in the middle of the night."
A big hug.
"I've loved seeing the video clips--watching my hair change color and being able to see when I'm up 30 pounds or down 30.

And how can I thank Stephanie Blythe? Thank God someone has gotten into this Kate Smith repertory.
And Flicka von Stade. We made our debuts at the Met the same year. I am indebted, too, to Warren Jones, my accompanist and cohort of the vocal program at my school.

I feel that I wasn't a great mother because I was away so much. I was so afraid of catching colds that I usually kissed my daughter on the back of her head. So Angela has paid the price for this wonderful award you are giving me today.

And now I have three wonderful grandchildren. If they don't go into a life of music they're all going to be great soccer players.

Our culture is what we are going to be judged by. It's what we leave behind that matters."
The ballroom.
As is the tradition, at the conclusion of the lunch, the honoree was joined by special guests who came up on to the stage. That's Stage Director Frank Corsaro greeting Marilyn Horne.
Angela Lewis Houle, Marilyn Horne, Tyne Daly, and Soprano Lucine Amara.
Carol Miller, Stephanie Blythe, Doris Meister (Sponsor; Bank of NY), Marilyn Horne, Tenor Robert White, and Richard Miller.
Met opera singer June Anderson gives a warm embrace to conductor Richard Bonynge. Tyne Daly, who recently appeared in the Broadway production of Master Class, Terrence McNally's portrait of a late-career Maria Callas.
Nedda Casei (veteran Met mezzo), June Anderson, Martina Arroyo, and Mark Adamo (composer).
Anthony Laciura and Harolyn Blackwell. Mr. Laciura is an American operatic tenor who is currently playing Eddie Kestler on the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire.
Sasha Lazard is a young singer who began her operatic career at thirteen, singing arias in churches and at parties in her native Manhattan. After studying at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she toured Europe extensively as a soprano for top chamber orchestras and opera companies. She is about to record her fifth CD.
Tyne Daly and Frederica von Stade.
The guest of honor is flanked by Richard Miller and his wife Carol Miller.
Each guest received two CDs in a party bag.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved.