Marilyn Horne’s 80th Birthday

Marilyn Horne(Photo: CAMI)
Marilyn Horne(Photo: CAMI)

Marilyn Horne and I had a dear friend in common. Our friend died last fall after a long illness. I came to know Marilyn as a warm-hearted and generous person who was ready to help me — a relative stranger —deal with grief. She was grieving herself.

You know the rest. The world’s greatest singer she’s been called. Her career began in 1955 when she was the voice of Dorothy Dandridge on the film Carmen Jones. A few years were spent voicing supermarket 45s of doo-wop hits. At the same time the lady was mentored by Stravinsky who took her to Venice to sing Gesualdo motets. There followed years of toil in a grimy German ciry, singing everything from La boheme to Wozzeck. The San Francisco Opera was presenting Wozzeck. There were and handful of women who could sing Maire. Horne was one and she got the job. The rest is history.

Rossini wrote The Barberof Seville and little else  until Marilyn Horne came along. Suddenly, we could hear Semiramide, Tancredi, L’italiana in algeri, The Siege of Corinth and La donna del lago.

Her debut at the Met in 1970, years after she had won acclaim was with Dame Joan Sutherland in Norma. The ladies appeared The Ed Sullivan Show a few weeks later. Dig the hairstyles.

Lieder, Mahler, Brahms, Rossini, Verdi, Meyerbeer, spirituals and pop, you name it she sang it. Now she’s teaching. No one works harder for young singers. For the world, Marilyn’ Horne’s is the voice to thrill to. To me, she’s the voice of humanity. Happy 80th birthday. Rock on!

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