Martina Arroyo's training program for young singers celebrates its tenth birthday with a gala on November 16 (2015). Brian Kellow speaks with the diva.
Arroyo with Eric Owens, who led a 2013 Prelude master class, and with Prelude participants.
IT HAS BEEN TEN YEARS since Martina Arroyo launched her own opera boot camp. Through its Prelude to Performance Program, the Martina Arroyo Foundation aims to immerse young singers in the complicated facets of preparing a role for the opera stage - a goal Arroyo felt was inadequately addressed by many of the higher learning institutions she encountered. Students are drilled in the historical context of the operas they perform; they learn how to break down a character like trained actors, with special emphasis on language and musical style. In the early years of the program, students paid a tuition fee, but now all participants in Prelude to Performance are fully supported financially. Among the outstanding young artists who have graduated from the program are Taylor Stayton, Patrick Guetti, Andre Courville, Cecilia Violetta Lopez, Paul Han and Ryan Speedo Green. Recently OPERA NEWS spoke with Arroyo about the demands of her life as educator and fund-raiser.
OPERA NEWS: Happy Anniversary! The Martina Arroyo Foundation has been in existence for ten years. And we're here to talk about how running it, day in and day out, has changed your life.
MARTINA ARROYO: What life?
ON: Well, exactly. Is there any hour of the day that is not somehow wrapped up in propelling the Foundation forward?
MA: I find that I need to make time away from it to rest the head or the body, because we go from one meeting to another.
You know, Brian, when we started out, we were a little mom-and-pop organization that wanted to support a class in how to prepare a stage role in opera. We didn't have any idea that ten years later, we would be putting on productions with orchestra and costumes. Not at all. And then we went on to do bigger performances and got an orchestra - and it became a foundation that needed some business heads. So we have grown from three people with a computer, saying, "Should we have auditions?" to 500 auditions and recordings and tapes, and we have grown faster than money can allow. But the name has gotten around. So even though we don't have an enormous amount of money, we always cover our expenses.
By Shauna L. Howard (@ShaunaLHoward)