Martina Arroyo, Kennedy Center Honoree

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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Soprano Martina Arroyo in the WQXR studio. Soprano Martina Arroyo. (Kim Nowacki/WQXR)

Recent Kennedy Center Honors recipient Martina Arroyo is known for her rich timbre, but descriptions of the classic spinto soprano's personality are just as vibrant.

Those who know her say she's warm, funny, and down to earth. As a testament to this, during her height in the 1970's Arroyo made an appearance on the Johnny Carson show and threw more jokes than the host. 

This week on Operavore, Martina Arroyo recounts her career, gives her thoughts on the next generation of opera singers, and details her brush with Snoop Dogg.

In 2014 much of her focus will be on cultivating the latest crop of opera singers through the Martina Arroyo Foundation, which offers programs for developing singers. 

Scroll to the bottom to see clips of Arroyo on the Johnny Carson show. 


Giuseppe Verdi
Aida “O patria mia”
Orquesta y Coro Estables del Teatro Colon
Bruno Bartoletti, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
La Batuta

Samuel Barber
Andromache's Farewell Op.39
New York Philharmonic
Thomas Schippers, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
CBS/Sony 62837

Giacomo Meyerbeer
Les Huguenots “Je suis seule chez moi!”
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Richard Bonynge, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
London/Decca 430549

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Giovanni “Non mi dir”
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
Philips 422541

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Cosi fan tutte “Un aura amorosa
Willie Anthony Waters, conductor
Taylor Stayton, tenor
Courtesy of Martina Arroyo Foundation's Prelude to Performance | 2007

Giuseppe Verdi
La Forza del Destino “Pace, pace, mio Dio!”
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Lamberto Gardelli, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
EMI Classics 67124

Comments [4]

Sadie Rucker from Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey

Thank you Operavore for presenting this amazing discussion by two such distinguished artists. What a voice! Both ladies are consummate artists with a great sense of humor and an honesty about this art form that they both love. What also comes through is the dedication to the young singers who are part of the programs of both Ms. Arroyo's and Ms. Horne's foundations.
Full disclosure: My husband Mark and I help Ms. Arroyo with her young artist program and have been fortunate to see that dedication first hand.
The young tenor, Taylor Stayton whose beautiful "Un aura amorosa" was heard, was only 20 years old when he sang Cosi fan tutte with Prelude in 2007. This excerpt is a very young Taylor, which is amazing to me.
We enjoyed this exchange so very much and also enjoyed the chance to hear some of Ms. Arroyo's glorious voice! Thank you!

Jan. 04 2014 07:25 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, LaKE Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

MARTINA ARROYO is all one would want to see in a person with high achievements and one wishing to succor, help, others in this highly competitive world. At the Hunter College Opera workshop Martina and I were participant members. We sang a duet from AIDA with ROSE LANDVER as the stage director and maestro WILLIAM TARRASCH as our accompanist. Under the same ausoices, I sang the title role of FRA DIAVOLO in the MET OPERA's JOHN GUTMAN English adaptation with maestro WILLIAM TARRASCH conducting the orchestra, with impressive sets and costumes at the HUNTER COLLEGE PLAYHOUSE, renamed the DANNY KAYE PLAYHOUSE. Others in the cast were PETER BINDER, WILLIAM WORKMAN and JANET SOUTHWICK. I also sang a staged performance there as SIEGMUND [DIE WALKURE]. Eating at the same table \with MARTINA at the cafeteria in the building downstairs, one could soon be aware that here is a real smart, imaginative and droll personality. Everyone loved MARTINA and her self-deprecatory comments should be common currency for all. HAPPY THAT MARTINA AGAIN HAS GOTTEN THE RECOGNITION SHE SO HIGHLY DESERVES !!! . ] am a Wagnerian romantischer heldentenor and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. I will sing the four song cycles that are most often performed in their orchestral garb: Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder," Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen," Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and Schoenberg's "Gurre-Lieder" at the New Life Expo at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC on Saturday March 22nd at 6 PM. I have sung four three-hour-long solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall including programming the Wagner and the first named Mahler song cycle. I am the director at the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute of Boonton, NJ. where I teach voice and train artists in all the Wagner and Shakespeare roles.

Jan. 04 2014 12:46 PM
Charles Fischbein from Front Royal, Va.

Mr. Rothenberg, is is not s commentary on today's politically correct society that if anyone but a minority person made such comments, even in a kind and loving manner they would be immediately labeled a racist. I have an adopted black son from Vietnam fathered by a black American soldier, and even though I love this man who is now a Masters degreed engineer at a large multi-national company I find myself being careful on any remarks I make in the race arena. He arrived in 1975 on a "baby lift" dressed in rags not speaking a word of English. He was educated at the same private schools and Universities my other children attended, and has excelled in business, and his personal life.
Far too many Americans who do not have a racist bone in their bodies are labeled as racist for simply showing the differences in musical, eating and dancing preferences between the races in a non judgmental factual way.
Our society I fear is held hostage by a tiny minority hell bent on editing speech and an individuals right to honestly express him/her self.
Even if one was to bring up the self induced segregation between white and black churches they would be walking on very thin ice today.
So think what you wish but judge a man or woman on their actions and allow for differences in honestly formed opinions. There are far too many media, both broadcast and print such as MSNBC, National Public Radio (re Juan Williams) and now A&E network who try to dictate and control beliefs of others and libel them in the worst ways if they disagree with their self imposed standards. God save America. God Speed, Charles Fischbein

Jan. 04 2014 08:23 AM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

No piece about Arroyo would be complete without referencing her delightful sense of humor.I heard "Madam Butterball" on the radio as she said it,and her witty retorts are almost as iconic.When a security guard at the old MET said "Good night,Miss Price" she replied "I'm the other one,honey."When Augusta,Georgia-born Jessye Norman began to speak in the ersatz British accent she has been known to employ,Arroyo said,"You want some chitlins with that?",and when a Black singer discussed going to Europe as "Returning to the Fatherland",she replied,"Oh,are you going to Africa?"

Jan. 03 2014 08:36 AM

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