Ana María Martínez
Grammy Award® winner Ana María Martínez is considered to be one of the foremost sopranos of her time, with an international career that spans the world’s most important opera houses and concert halls. A winner of the 15th Annual Opera News Awards, her repertoire encompasses opera’s most intriguing and diverse leading ladies, and she engages her audiences season after season with signature roles, spellbinding debuts, and a myriad of captivating recordings. In addition to a full calendar of performances, Ms. Martínez continues to explore all aspects of her career, both on and off stage, highlighted by such diverse opportunities as voicing the role of opera singer Alessandra in season three of Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, to proudly representing her birthplace of Puerto Rico as an honoree and performer in the 62nd Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, and all the while maintaining her commitment as a leader in the industry and as an advocate and educator to the next generation of musicians.
In 2019 Ms. Martínez joined Houston Grand Opera as their first-ever Artistic Advisor where she works with the artistic team on casting and production decisions, adjudicates the annual Concert of Arias competition, mentors and coaches HGO Studio artists, and engages with the larger Houston community on behalf of the Opera. Equally exciting, following a two year appointment as Artist-in-Residence at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, in July 2021 she became a professor in their Department of Voice.
Performance highlights of the 2021-2022 season include the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas with Lyric Opera of Chicago and a role debut as Despina in Cosi fan Tutte with Washington National Opera. On stage during 2020-2021 season, in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms. Martínez was thrilled to join San Diego Opera as Mimi in their production of La Bohème, in the world’s first-ever drive-in opera production! Virtual performances during the season included a “Living Room Recital” with Los Angeles Opera performed in Ana María’s home and available digitally. She curated two Spanish themed virtual programs, the first with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Ryan Opera Center alumni and pianist Craig Terry, entitled “Pasión Latina” featured a dynamic selection of music from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina, and Spain. The second program, created by Ana María for Houston Grand Opera, entitled “Suite Española,” featured music of Spain, including Zarzuela, and stared Ana María alongside HGO Studio artists. Additional performances during the season included her role debut as Tosca with Opera Philadelphia, which she performed again later in the season with Cincinnati Opera, as well as Nedda in Pagliacci with Palm Beach Opera.
Recent rave reviews for the soprano include the following:
“Her soprano harks back to the golden age. Her range is even, from a dusky chest-voice through a claret-colored middle and up to radiant top, and is impressive in its quiet moments as it is at full power.” (Opera News, Cover Story)
“The production was grounded by the exquisite performance of the title role by Ana María Martínez, who sang the opera for Glyndebourne in 2009. The soprano was in ravishing vocal estate, offering reams of floated lyricism in Act I’s famous song to the moon, as well as prodigious dynamic control in “Ó marno to je” and power in reserve for the climaxes of “Necitelná vodní moci….Martínez’s achievement was easily one of the great soprano performances of the present era at Lyric.” (Opera News, Rusalka, Lyric Opera of Chicago)
“Martínez’s voice alone – with its chocolate-rich vibrancy in the low and middle range and its thrilling brilliance at the top – is worth the price of admission, but she also has the expressive range, as a singing actress, to portray Marguerite’s complex transformation from youthful innocent in the throes of first love to outcast sinner consumed by tragedy and madness, who then achieves the miracle of redemption.” (Opera News, Faust, Houston Grand Opera)
“It was a bit of theatrical magic in a beautiful performance: modest and delicate, yet rising to glimpses of the epic in her final aria of self-sacrifice.” (The New York Times, Madama Butterfly, The Metropolitan Opera)
During the 2019-20 season Ms. Martínez portrayed the role of Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Opera National de Paris and Lyric Opera of Chicago and performed in concert with both Plácido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli. During the 2018-2019 season the soprano joined Esa-Pekka Salonen and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra for the World Premiere of Dreamers, an oratorio co-commissioned by Cal Performances and Stanford Live. Written by composer Jimmy López of Peru and librettist Nilo Cruz of Cuba, Dreamers explores the immigrant experience in the United States. She returned to the Los Angeles Opera as both Elisabetta in Don Carlo and Solea in El Gato Montes opposite Plácido Domingo in the title role, the Vienna Staatsoper on the 20th anniversary of her debut with them as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, and Houston Grand Opera as the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas. She joined the Puerto Rico Symphony for their 60th Anniversary gala concert, shared the stage with Plácido Domingo on tour in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and with the San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera for gala concert celebrations, and took part in a week-long residency at DePaul University in Chicago.
Ms. Martínez was the inaugural recipient of the Pepita Embil Prize of Zarzuela at the 1995 Operalia II, and in the years since has been honored to regularly share the stage in concert with Plácido Domingo. Highlights of their touring include performances at The White House, HSBC Arena in Rio De Janeiro for the World Cup Celebration, her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, as well as performances at the Abu Dhabi Festival in the United Arab Emirates, Arena di Verona, Chorégies d’Orange, Teatro Real in Madrid, with the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra in honor of Domingo’s 50th Anniversary, in a special concert event with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra under the direction of Sir Andrew Davis, and for the inaugural performance at the Dubai Opera House, to name just a select few. Their recordings include a Zarzuela DVD recorded live at the Salzburg Festival entitled Amor, Vida de Mi Vida (EuroArts), the Latin Grammy Award® winning recording of Albeniz’s Merlin (Decca), as well as the Grammy nominated recording of Bacalov’s Misa Tango (Deutsche Grammophon), and the DVD Spanish Night (EuroArts) with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Maestro Domingo. Ms. Martínez has also performed on international concert tours with star tenor Andrea Bocelli. Highlights of their collaboration include her appearance on the Emmy nominated PBS TV special and DVD American Dream: Andrea Bocelli’s Statue of Liberty Concert (WNET/Thirteen) with the New Jersey Symphony, as well as her participation in his star-studded performance in New York’s Central Park which was recorded live, entitled Concerto: One Night in Central Park (Verve). She performs the role of Nedda opposite Andrea Bocelli in the recording of Pagliacci (Decca), and portrays the title role in Manon Lescaut (Decca) recorded opposite Andrea Bocelli with Plácido Domingo conducting the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana.
Ms. Martínez makes her home in Houston, Texas, where her relationship with Houston Grand Opera runs deep. In addition to being named the company’s first-ever Artist Advisor, she is an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and the inaugural receipt of the Lynn Wyatt Great Artist Award, which is awarded by HGO and Lynn and Oscar Wyatt. In 1994 she won First Prize in HGO’s Eleanor McCollum Auditions and Awards Competition, and in 2015 established the Ana María Martínez Encouragement Award as part of that same competition. The scholarship is awarded annually to a young singer with great artistic promise, and is to be used towards the furthering of his or her artistic training. On the Houston Grand Opera stage Ms. Martínez continues to portray some of her most beloved characters, often under the baton of their Artistic and Music Director, Patrick Summers. It was there that she debuted the title role of Carmen, as well as the role of Cio-Cio San, which she since has performed around the world. She joined them as the title role in Rusalka, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Nedda in Pagliacci, Mimi in La Bohème, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, la Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro, Liù in Turandot, Lucero in the world premiere of Daniel Catán’s Salsipuedes, and as both Rosalba and then in a later production as the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas, both which were recorded for commercial release.
Ms. Martínez is delighted to perform season after season with Lyric Opera of Chicago. Recent performances include Donna Elvira in a new Robert Falls production of Don Giovanni, her role debut as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, as well as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Mimi in La Bohème, Nedda in Pagliacci, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte and Marguerite in Faust. With the Los Angeles Opera she performed as Amelia in Simon Boccanegra and Elisabetta in Don Carlo, both opposite Plácido Domingo and conducted by LA Opera Music Director, James Conlon, as well as the title role in Carmen, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Mimi in La Bohème, Nedda in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Pagliacci, and Violetta in La Traviata, the last two conducted by Maestro Domingo. She made her role debut as Elisabetta in Don Carlo, with San Francisco Opera conducted by Nicola Luisotti, and also joined them as Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Micaëla in Carmen, as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. She made her debut with The Metropolitan Opera as Micaëla in Carmen and returned to the house as Musetta La Bohème and Cio-Cio San. She joined Washington National Opera as Liù in Turandot, and Cio-Cio San, and she made her debut with Santa Fe Opera as Fiordiligi in Così fan Tutte, and returned there as Rosina in a new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Mimi in La Bohème, as Cio-Cio San, and as the title role in Carmen. Additional leading roles in the United States have taken her for multiples seasons to the stages of Opera de Puerto Rico, Dallas Opera, and Florida Grand Opera, among many others.
Career highlights from stages across Europe include her headline-making role and house debut as Rusalka with the Glyndebourne Festival, a performance that was recording live and released on the Glyndebourne label. She returned to the Festival as the leading role of Paolina in the United Kingdom’s first professionally staged performances of Donizetti’s Poliuto, also recorded live and released on DVD. She made her debut at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires as Rusalka, and her debut with the Opera National de Paris as Amelia in a new production of Simon Boccanegra, returning as the title role in a new production of Luisa Miller, as Mimi in La Bohème, and for her role debut as Antonia in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman. She made her debut with the Vienna Staatsoper as Adina in L’elisir d’amore, and returned there as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Micaëla in Carmen, Mimi in La Bohème, Liù in Turandot, and as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, conducted by Plácido Domingo. She joined the Bayerische Staatsoper as Cio-Cio San, the title role in Luisa Miller, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Mimi in La Bohème, the title role in Rusalka, and as Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffman. At the Royal Opera House Covent Garden she debuted her Alice Ford in Falstaff, and portrayed Violetta in La Traviata, Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She sang Liu in Turandot and Nedda in Pagliacci both with De Nederlandse Opera. In the Middle East, she portrayed Mimi in La Bohème with the Abu Dhabi Festival in the United Arab Emirates, for the city’s first ever fully staged opera production.
Ms. Martínez’s dynamic concert career also includes engagements with some of the world’s most celebrated orchestras and conductors. She made her debut at Teatro alla Scala with the Filharmonica della Scala, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, conducted by Alan Gilbert, in selections from West Side Story, and has had solo concerts with the Puerto Rico Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Mercury Baroque in Houston, the Seoul Philharmonic, and with the English National Opera Orchestra in London. She has performed with the Tchaikovsky Symphony in Moscow, under the direction of Vladimir Fedoseyev, the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasiliera in Rio de Janeiro, the BBC Symphony at Barbican Hall, and the National Symphony of the Dominican Republic. She joined the Boston Symphony, conducted by Bernard Haitink, Lyric Opera of Chicago for several concerts at Millenium Park conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and the Washington National Opera Orchestra for a concert with Bryn Terfel conducted by Plácido Domingo. She made her debut with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg for Verdi’s Requiem, joined the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel, and performed alongside baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in a gala concert with the Turkish Opera and Ballet Theatre. She sang with tenor Joseph Calleja in an open-air televised gala concert with the Esterhazy Festival in Austria, the Ravinia Festival in concert performances as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte conducted by James Conlon, joined the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy, Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, and has appeared on several occasions with the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico.
Ms. Martínez’s recording collection is highlighted by her solo disc, entitled Ana María Martínez – Soprano Songs and Arias, of which she also served as Executive Producer. Recorded with the Prague Philharmonia and conducted by Steven Mercurio on Naxos, the album was selected by Gramophone Magazine as an “Editor’s Choice.” She stars on the soundtrack of Amazon’s season 3 of Mozart in the Jungle (Sony Classical, Emmy Award for Editing), on the DVD Cosi Fan Tutte (Decca) filmed at the Salzburg Festival, and appears on Steven Mercurio’s Many Voices (Sony Classical). She performs on the albums Glass’ La Belle et la Bête and Symphony No. 5 (Nonesuch), Albeniz’s Henry Clifford (Decca), Joaquin Rodrigo’s: Obra Vocal I, II, IV & V (EMI), and Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas (Albany). Recorded on Naxos for the Milken Archives and with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, she can be heard on Castelnuovo Tedesco’s Naomi & Ruth Opus 27 (Naxos) as well as Yizkor’s Requiem (Naxos) and with the Barcelona Symphony, Marvin Levy’s Canto de los Marranos (Naxos), Julius Chajes’ Old Jerusalem (Naxos) and Hugo Weisgall’s Psalm of the Distant Dove (Naxos). Her rendition of Ave Maria is heard on the Aaron Zigman soundtrack in the Denzel Washington film “John Q,” and her “Je veux vivre” from Romeo et Juliette can be heard in the movie “Factory Girl.”
Born in Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican mother and a Cuban father, Ana María spent her formative years in Puerto Rico and New York City. She graduated from The Juilliard School with both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. An alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Martínez won the Pepita Embil Award at the 1995 Operalia II, first prize in the 1994 Eleanor McCollum Auditions and Awards from Houston Grand Opera, and in the 1993 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions she was a first place district and first place regional winner and national finalist. She is the recipient of the National Association of Latina Leaders’ Groundbreaking Latina in Music award. She has provided candid encouragement to young singers as a contributing editor to Classical Singer Magazine, and her reflections were profiled in Latino Wisdom: Celebrity Stories of Hope, Inspiration, and Success to Recharge our Mind, Body, and Soul by Cathy Areu, published by Barricade Books.
“Back at Lyric was the charismatic soprano Ana María Martínez, whose beautifully sung and finely detailed Marguerite was the linchpin of [the] performance. Not only did she deliver the Jewel song with sparkling coloratura, this spirited singing actress was fully in the moment, conveying the heroine’s emotional trajectory from virginal innocence to disillusion, despair, madness and apotheosis.”
John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune
“…the wonderful Rusalka of Ana María Martínez. What a special performance this is. Martínez does not immediately reveal what might be considered the classic Rusalka voice but she sings from such a deep core of longing, intensified by the courage of her conviction in the big releases and softened by the benevolence of melting portamento in the many moments of fragility that you totally buy into the belief that she can sing just about anything. Equally remarkable is the long stretch of act two where she doesn’t sing at all (how daring of Dvořák to silence his leading lady at the very centre of the drama). How movingly she conveys this lost child of nature marooned centre-stage on her wedding day as handmaidens apply the unwelcome ‘feminine’ touches”
Edward Seckerson, The Independent
“But at least there is Martínez! On this evidence alone she requires ranking among the top lyric sopranos of the day. The voice, with its dusky warmth of timbre and fullness lower down, agility in passagework, freedom in opening up on top and ease in pinpointing and floating soft high phrases, is a classic Latin instrument, the more so for apparently suffering none of the stereotypical afflictions of edginess or shrillness, and for the immaculate musicality underpinning its every utterance.”
Max Loppert, Opera Magazine
“And it’s here that Martínez really shines: despairing, defiant, but defeated. The fragility of her light soprano, appealingly coloured with some darker tints, is at its best when it comes to the purely lyric demands of the closing scene, and Violetta’s whispered breaths showed off that softness to a tee.”
Neil Fisher, The Times of London
“The role of Manon was beautifully brought to life by Ana María Martínez. This young soprano brought a mature and profound understanding to the role with an interpretation packed with emotion. She has a very solid technique, which assures her of excellent control of her entire vocal range -even to a high D exploit a wide dynamic range. Her softest notes were sung with intensity and yet, never forced or strained. Martínez exercised a magnetic hold on her audience the entire evening both with her gorgeous voice and wonderful acting. “
Robert Sharon, Palm Beach Daily News
“The dazzler is the Rosina of Ana María Martínez…She’s every inch the feisty, hot-blooded Spanish girl, tossing off the coloratura with fluidity as well as accuracy. In a role originally conceived for a mezzo she also supplies a smoldering lower register.”
Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News
“Soprano Ana Maria Martinez delivered an extraordinary Rosina. There is, first, her voice — warm, powerful, richly sustained, but also as agile as any bel canto aria might require. Then there was the way she gracefully stepped, twirled and pranced throughout the night as the pert, lovestruck and scheming young girl.”
Gregory Barnett, Opera News
“Houston Grand Opera maestro Patrick Summers augments the shimmering radiance in Puccini’s lush, exotic scene, while soprano Ana Maria Martinez, making her role debut as Cio-Cio-San, sounds fresh and ethereal as her silken voice sails over the orchestra, as if some fragrant breeze has ruffled the cherry blossoms…… Martinez strikes a lovely figure in a kimono, and she’s a convincing actress as the girl who must grow up much too fast….her voice is immensely pleasing and terrifically sensual.”
D.L. Groover, Houston Press
“Ana Maria Martinez’s vibrant, shining soprano was a true fortress of resolve in the perilous leaps and plunges of Fiordiligi’s difficult showpiece, “Come scoglio.” The American singer brought off both of her arias to stunning effect and received properly thunderous ovations.”
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
“As Cio-Cio San, HGO Studio alumna Ana María Martínez sang with a poignant vitality that brought forth both the teenage Butterfly’s youthful innocence and, later, her darkest despair. Martínez’s best moments coincided with Butterfly’s most desperate ones: the fragile quality to her singing in “un bel dì” underscored a deeply affecting, pitiful clinging to hope beyond all reason, and her hallowed out, hard, nearly lifeless timbre when Sharpless finally convinces Butterfly that Pinkerton has discarded her brought home the demise of hope in that moment. Both created scenes of gripping drama.”
Gregory Barnett, Opera News
“Ms. Martínez is very poised, well trained, and mature…a dignified charm. Is it possible for charm to be dignified? I believe so, and Ana María Martínez embodies this quality. As for the soprano, she never lost her poise, never lost her charm, and never ceased to be winning. When the evening was over, a famous singer in the hall said in a private conversation — which is important — ‘She sang perfectly. Perfectly.’ And it was true. (Ms. Martínez is a fine Mozart singer, by the way.)…she didn’t put a foot wrong.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New York Sun
“The bright-voiced soprano Ana María Martínez gave a vocally agile and emotionally fraught portrayal of Donna Elvira, unhinged in her determination to find Giovanni, who had abandoned her, and shame him into loving her.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
“Ana María Martínez was perfectly suited to the role of Donna Elvira, which allowed her not only to show off her beautiful, dynamic voice but to engage her considerable comedic and dramatic abilities. She made Elvira’s dejection palpable, and her ability to capture her character’s righteous indignation added to the fiery brilliance of her singing, as in the Act I aria, ‘Ah, fuggi il traditor.'”
Walter B. Bailey, Opera News
“Especially when the Elvira is a strong a personality as the wonderful Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez, making a triumphant debut as one of the most vocally lustrous and temperamental performers of his role here since Kiri Te Kanawa’s early days. Martínez is a beautiful woman with a fascinating voice, full of velvety mezzoish half-tints in he middle and bottom ranges, with a gleaming top. She must come back soon, and often.”
The Sunday Times
“The evening’s vocal laurel went to the Nedda of Ana Maria Martinez, whose seductively darkish timbre, sensitivity in dynamic shading, and keen textual resonance coalesced for a most impressive house debut [at Lyric Opera of Chicago].”
Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News
“Along the way [Plácido Domingo] introduced a recent protégée, soprano Ana Maria Martinez, who has had success in Houston, Hamburg and at Covent Garden, and made her Metropolitan Opera debut two seasons ago. Born in Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican mother and a Cuban father and educated at Juilliard, Martinez clearly enjoys embracing an array of identities and styles a la Domingo. Believable and exciting in both the Jewel Song from Gounoud’s ‘Faust’ and in zarzuela solos and duets with her mentor, she brought down the house with Eliza’s ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ from Lerner and Loewe’s ‘My Fair Lady.'”
Andrew Patner, The Chicago Sun Times
“The rising young Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez joined Bocelli for the arias and love duet from Puccini’s ‘La Bohème.’ She is blessed with a ripe, spinning lyricospinto vice that should sweep her to operatic stardom; even better, she radiates real warmth and simplicity. The two singers held hands and matched high C’s in the love duet and the house came down.”
Susan Larson, The Boston Globe