American Opera Star Marilyn Horne Visits Rollins College

February 04, 2009

Marilyn HorneOn Tuesday, Feb. 3, the Winter Park Institute was honored to host world famous American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. Titled “My Life: Questions and Answers,” the night included an onstage interview between Horne and Rollins' Professor of Music Edmund LeRoy. In addition, the audience enjoyed an array of musical recordings from Horne’s career as an acclaimed opera star. Following this segment, Horne replied to questions from the audience.

Marilyn Horne was born on January 16, 1934 in Bradford, Pennsylvania. She started performing early in her childhood and went on to study vocal music at the University of Southern California. At the age of 20, Horne made her debut on the opera scene in her role as Hata in Smetana's The Bartered Bride for the Los Angeles Guild Opera in 1954. Success followed Horne through Europe as she spent three years performing for the Gelsenkirchen Opera Company.

Fame came soon after her esteemed performance as Marie in Alban Berg’s Wozzack, unveiled at the inauguration of Gelsenkirchen's new opera house on May 22, 1960. In the following years of her career, Horne performed regularly at opera houses around the world. Aside from her role in Wozzack, she starred as Jocasta in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex in 1969, Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma, and opened the season of Carmen in 1972. Horne graced the Metropolitan Opera many times throughout her career. She was notably the first singer to bring Rinaldo to the Met, the first G.F. Handel opera ever performed there.

Marilyn Horne’s career as a mezzo-soprano opera singer has entertained generations of music-lovers and continues to receive marvelous reviews. Tuesday's audience gathered in Rollins' Tiedke Hall auditorium shared a humbling experience while listening to Horne's musical recordings. Horne’s singing voice amplifies beauty with vast range and magnificent tone clarity. “No instrument has as much music written for it as the human voice does,” Horne said. “One of the biggest things all musicians need to learn is style.”

Currently, Horne serves as the vocal program director at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA. She is also the founder of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, which helps support young singers. The foundation was started shortly after Horne’s 60th birthday, when she reflected back on her life and realized music was an “endangered species” in the lives of generations to follow. In her efforts to give back to the community, she continues this 15-year-old organization and holds pride in over 100 musical artists that have utilized the foundation.

Article and photo by Stephanie Posner (Class of 2011)

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