Metropolitan Opera Guild’s 77th Annual Luncheon, Celebrating Living Legend Marilyn Horne
The Metropolitan Opera Guild pays tribute to the legendary American mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne, on Monday, October 31, when stars and fans of opera, as well as an array of New York’s society, business, and civic leaders, assemble in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria for the Guild’s 77th Annual Luncheon. “Jackie – Celebrating Marilyn Horne” will honor the incomparable achievements of one of the greatest singers of our time with tributes from her colleagues; live and video-taped performances, including a musical tribute by the acclaimed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe; and other surprises. Dozens of special guests from the world of opera, including numerous current and former stars of the Metropolitan Opera, and opera-loving celebrities, will be among the 800 guests expected to attend the luncheon. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Guild’s education programs in New York City and throughout the country.
Marilyn Horne is one of the giant figures of American opera, beloved by the public and critics alike for her incandescent artistry and ebullient personality. While giving definitive performances of some of the most important characters in the mezzo-soprano repertory, Horne also revived interest in many neglected Baroque and bel canto works, including now-revered masterpieces by Handel, Bellini, and Rossini. Her appearances on such popular television shows as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Odd Couple (where she played Jackie – her enduring nickname – the secretary, who secretly pined to be an opera diva) were for many Americans their first exposure to opera. She is also one of the world’s most impassioned advocates for the art-song recital, which she promotes through her Marilyn Horne Foundation, as well as with extensive teaching and mentoring.
The Guild’s President, Richard J. Miller, Jr., comments:
“It’s an enormous pleasure for the Metropolitan Opera Guild to honor Marilyn Horne at our Annual Luncheon. I’d be hard pressed to name anyone who has done more for opera and song over the past 50 years. She has been both an amazing artist, and a good friend to the Guild.”
The Guild’s Annual Luncheon has been a highlight of every opera season for decades, an important and unique community gathering bringing artists together with passionate opera fans – many of them Guild members – for a celebration of leaders in the art form. Last year, the Guild’s own 75th anniversary, including the organization’s pioneering founder, Eleanor Belmont, was saluted at the luncheon. In recent seasons, the Guild’s luncheon has paid tribute to such beloved artists as Frederica von Stade, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Plácido Domingo, as well as director Franco Zeffirelli and former General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Joseph Volpe.
Among the Met artists past and present who are slated to attend on October 31 are June Anderson, Lucine Amara, Martina Arroyo, Harolyn Blackwell, Judith Blegen, Richard Bonynge, Nedda Casei, Dwayne Croft, Raymond Gniewek, Jean Kraft, Shirley Love, John Macurdy, Spiro Malas, Betsy Norden, Roberta Peters, Samuel Ramey, Regina Resnik, Renata Scotto, Rita Shane, Bryn Terfel, Benita Valente, Deborah Voigt, and Frederica von Stade.
Other friends and colleagues expected to attend include beloved singer and Broadway legend Barbara Cook, famed theater and opera director Frank Corsaro (who made his Met debut in 1984 with Handel’s Rinaldo, starring Marilyn Horne), composer John Corigliano (who composed a role in his opera, The Ghosts of Versailles, specifically for Horne), stage and screen actress Tyne Daly (currently starring to great acclaim in a revival of Master Class), television and stage actress Florence Henderson, pianist Martin Katz (Horne’s long-time recital partner), celebrated playwright Terrence McNally (author of Master Class), composer Benjamin Moore, famed singer Marni Nixon (who provided the film singing voices for Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, and Natalie Wood), conductor Eve Queler, singer Robert White, and pianist – and Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Development Program – Brian Zeger.
The Chairpersons of the event are Mercedes T. Bass, Susan S. Braddock, Mr. and Mrs. James Marcus, Karon Cullen Meyer, Mrs. Garfield Miller III, Richard J. Miller, Jr., Winthrop Rutherfurd, Jr., and Ann Ziff.
With her unparalleled five-decade career in opera, concert, and recital, Marilyn Horne has been celebrated throughout the world for the power and artistry of her unique and dazzling mezzo-soprano coloratura and for her revival of many forgotten Rossini, Handel, Vivaldi, and Bellini operas. The brilliance and strength of this Pennsylvania-born dynamo’s performances brought glory to all of the opera world’s great stages. Horne’s repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her debut as Adalgisa in Norma in 1970, is a testament to her versatility: in her 23 seasons at the Met, she starred in new productions of Carmen, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, L’Italiana in Algeri, Aida, Don Carlo, Le Prophéte, Semiramide, and Pelléas et Mélisande, as well as the company premiere of Rinaldo, the first Handel opera ever presented by the Met, and the world premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles. 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 the song. She is Vocal Program Director at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, of which she is an alumna, and she has led master classes throughout the classical musical world; among the institutions that have hosted her teaching residencies are Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Oklahoma, and the Académie Musicale de Villecroze in Paris. In January 2009, Horne celebrated her 75th birthday and the 15th anniversary of the Marilyn Horne Foundation with an all-star concert gala at Carnegie Hall.
The Metropolitan Opera Guild at a glance
For more than 75 years, the Metropolitan Opera Guild has provided substantial support to the Met, and has greatly enhanced the public’s appreciation of opera in general. Since its founding by the pioneering philanthropist Eleanor Robson Belmont in 1935, the Guild has contributed more than $245 million to the Met. The organization has one of the country’s most innovative and far-reaching music education programs, which impacts more than 1,800 schools and communities. In August 2010, the Guild received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Arts-in-Education” Model Development and Dissemination Program for its Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT) project.
The Guild also publishes Opera News, the world’s largest circulation magazine devoted to opera, and produces an annual series of major public programs, including the Opera News Awards, and the Met Legends and Met Mastersingers series. The seventh annual Opera News Awards will take place in New York City on April 29, 2012 at The Plaza, celebrating the achievements of five extraordinary artists who have each made an invaluable contribution to the art form: sopranos Karita Mattila and Anja Silja, baritones Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Peter Mattei, and director Peter Sellars.