Marilyn Horne Remembers Triumphs, Battles and 'Singing Everything'

A Candid Interview with the Mezzo-Soprano and Teacher

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Video: Marilyn Horne on Television Stardom

The mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne ignited numerous trends in opera over the last half-century, including the bel canto revival of the 1960s, the growth of the art song recital and the fleeting burst of opera on television. In an in-depth interview with host Naomi Lewin she talks about how she came to dominate many of these areas. She also wades into more controversial territory.

Horne argues that opera houses have been too infatuated with overly conceptual productions while ignoring the lavish, albeit traditional, spectacles by director Franco Zefferelli. She sighs that too many singers are hired today because of their appearance (“if you got three singers vying for a role today, and they sing equally, the person who looks great is going to get it”). And she feels that microphones are an inevitable next step for opera houses, just as they have taken over on Broadway stages. 

Horne, 77, was a fixture on many of the world's opera and concert stages for some five decades. She speaks passionately about some of her famed musical partners including Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballe, James Levine and her late husband, the conductor Henry Lewis. While considering her own battles -- with everything from conductors to pancreatic cancer -- Horne reflects on her legacy. “I’ve sung everything – from soup to nuts I’ve sung it,” she said. “If I have a legacy, it’s that I did sing so much variety and that it can be done.”

Horne is being honored at the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s annual luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria on Oct. 31, with many tributes from past and present colleagues expected. Listen below to Horne on key topics in her life and career and tune in to WQXR on Saturday, Oct. 29 after Saturday at the Opera to hear more:

On finding her voice and discovering bel canto roles

On the Metropolitan Opera, television and weight loss

On recital singing

On leaving a legacy

Produced by Naomi Lewin and Brian Wise; Video produced by Kim Nowacki


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Comments [7]

HH from Westchester, NY

Marilyn Horne is the epitome of talent, hard work, being prepared, knowing her 'stuff' and class and guts. One of the all time greatest.......that class of singer/musician Ms. Horne helped to create the standard for. I still get chills listening to her recordings. Glad to see her being honored, so well deserved.

Oct. 31 2011 01:19 PM
Ira Ehrenkranz from morristown new jersey

My wife and I have been personal friends of Jackie's for many years. She is a wonderful lady and the best mezzo to come along in our life time of listening to opera. We loved the opportunity to go with her to the opening of the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel many years ago. She introducted us to Joan Sutherland, her husband Richand and last ,but not least Luciano Pavarotti. Mr. Pavarotti forgot his tie and cumerbund in a a local hotel and my brother-in-law and myself drove him back to retrieve it before the concert. It was a thrill of a lifetime! Best wishes to Jackie at her luncheon Monday! All our love, Meryl and Ira.

Oct. 29 2011 11:13 AM
Rita Lehr from Baltimore

I wish I could come to the luncheon, but I can't aford it. I am such a fan of Marilyn Horne and had the pleasure of seeing her 18 times in the DC area. I have a scrapbook of all her programs and articles about her.

There is no one like her. She was such a fantastic performer. I listen to her CDs all the time.

Rita Lehr in Baltimore

Oct. 28 2011 04:55 PM
Jeep from NYC Upper West Side

Marilyn Horne is just the greatest, in so many many ways. She's right that good singing will get the message across, but just imagine if, say, Joyce DiDonato had had a chance to be a featured player in a prime-time TV sitcom, what kind of effect she might have made on today's POTENTIAL audiences! Brava, Jackie!

Oct. 27 2011 05:52 PM

Why bother really!

Oct. 27 2011 05:14 PM
Jacob from Louisiana

Love the interview, but WQXR should have exercised better placement of the indiscreet WQXR microphone and not have chosen to have Ms. Horne in a discernable shadow.

Love Horne. She taught me that a contralto can be a hullava coloratura too. I believe that she paved a way for the popular demand for similar contraltos like Bartoli to have the careers they have today.

Oct. 26 2011 04:23 PM
Rowland C. Rodgers from Center Valley, PA

Marilyn Horne is a woman that was ahead of her time.

Oct. 26 2011 01:43 PM

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