For our Sunday Arts profile, Rafael Pi Ramon interviews Martina Arroyo and takes a look into her “Prelude to Performance” workshops while the students are preparing for performances of La Boheme and Die Fledermaus beginning on July 16th at Hunter College Kaye Playhouse.
For many years, Martina Arroyo was a star on the stages of the great opera houses of Europe as well as at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. At the Philharmonic, she was one of Leonard Bernstein’s favorite singers . Upon her retirement from the stage, she launched a new career as a music educator at Indiana University as well as at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, UCLA, Louisiana State and Wilberforce University. In 2003 she established her own foundation – The Martina Arroyo Foundation – to help provide talented young singers with the tools they will need to build a professional career. One of the programs of the foundation is called “Prelude to Performance”.
“Prelude to Performance”provides an intensive course for training young opera singers in all aspects of presenting opera. The program focuses on the preparation of an entire role and includes: the background of the role, the historical perspective of the role, the psychological motivations of the character, the use of the body and voice in the interpretation of the character, and the use of language to convey the character with an emphasis on diction. This year, the program culminates in performances of two operas, staged, with costumes and orchestra.
Approximately thirty young artists are selected to participate from auditions held during the winter and spring months. The first four weeks are dedicated to staging, lectures, seminars, master classes and individual coaching. On the fifth week they move into the theater and focus entirely on preparation for the final performances. Critiques are given to all participants after the performances by faculty and selected professionals.
Puccini’s La Boheme, conducted by Maestro Gerald Steichen and directed by Michael Ehrman, will be presented on Thursday, July 16 at 7:30 and Saturday July 18 at 2. Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, conducted by Maestro Willie Waters and directed by Mihaela Bogdan, will be presented on Friday, July 17 at 7:30 and Sunday, July 19 at 2. All performances are at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College at 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.