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. With a repertoire that encompasses opera’s most intriguing and diverse leading ladies, she engages her audiences season after season with signature roles, spellbinding debuts, and a myriad of captivating recordings. Opera News’ cover story on Ms. Martinez in October 2014 declared that 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.” Leading roles for the soprano during the 2016-2017 season include Marguerite in Faust with Houston Grand Opera, a role debut as Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as Cio Cio San in Madame Butterfly with Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with San Francisco Opera. She joins star tenor Andrea Bocelli on a multi-city tour and will be heard on the upcoming season of Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle.”
During the 2015 – 2016 season Ms. Martinez made her triumphant return in a lead role with The Metropolitan Opera, portraying Cio-Cio San in a revival of Anthony Minghella’s breathtaking production of Madama Butterfly. The New York Times raved of her performance “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.” Ms. Martinez joined the Los Angeles Opera for two productions, first as Nedda in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Pagliacci, under the baton of Plácido Domingo, and then later in the season as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with James Conlon conducting. She returned to Opera de Puerto Rico as Cio-Cio San, to Houston Grand Opera as the title role in Rusalka, to The Metropolitan Opera as Musetta in La bohème, and to San Francisco Opera in a role debut as Elisabetta in Don Carlo. She had several concert engagements with Plácido Domingo during the season, including an engagement with the Salzburg Festival honoring his 40th Anniversary with them, the Starlight Festival in Marbella Spain, with Viñedos San Gabriel in Ensenada, Baja, in Manaus, Brazil, at the Dubai Opera in the United Arab Emirates, and in a special concert event with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra under the direction of Sir Andrew Davis. During the summer she joined the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York for their opening night concert in a selection of Mozart operas for her debut with the Festival, and followed that with performances of Cio Cio San at the Mariinsky Theater Primorsky Stage in Vladivostok, Russia.
The soprano began the 2014 – 2015 calendar opening Lyric Opera of Chicago’s season as Donna Elvira in a new Robert Falls production of Don Giovanni. She returned to Opera National de Paris as Mimi in La bohème, and portrayed Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with both Houston Grand Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. She returned to Dallas Opera as Mimi and concluded the season as the leading role of Paolina in the United Kingdom’s first professionally staged performances of Donizetti’s Poliuto in her triumphant return to The Glyndebourne Festival. The Daily Mail proclaimed “Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez brings Callas-Like intensity to Paolina,” and Opera Today wrote that “Martínez executed Paolina’s aria with such beauty that her voice seemed to shimmer.” Highlights of her concert calendar included performances with Andrea Bocelli, as well as with with Ramón Vargas in selections from Rusalka at the closing Gala concert for the Year of Czech Music in Prague. In November, Decca released a recording of Manon Lescaut with Ms. Martínez in the title role, recorded opposite Andrea Bocelli with Plácido Domingo conducting the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana.
Ms. Martinez opened the 2013-14 season in a role debut as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello with Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she also performed during the season as the title role of Rusalka in a new production of David McVicar. Opera News wrote of her extraordinary performance:
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.” She emerged from her lake a pale, wraithlike being that undulated in graceful waves, like the water of which she was formed, only to become all angular awkwardness as she struggled with alien surroundings in Act II. Here she resembled a frightened puppy, a creature of pure love who was completely bewildered by her inability to comprehend expectations. An image of the desperate girl being pelted with blossoms during the ballet, while visibly reaching to grasp whether she was being lauded or cruelly mocked, was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen on a stage. Martínez’s achievement was easily one of the great soprano performances of the present era at Lyric.
In addition to her performances with Lyric Opera of Chicago, she added a new leading lady to her repertoire with the title role of Carmen in a new Robert Ashford production with Houston Grand Opera. She reprised the role of Carmen with Santa Fe Opera in a new production by Stephen Lawless later in the season. She returned to the Vienna Staatsoper as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly in performances conducted by Plácido Domingo, and to the Bayerishe Staatsoper as both Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly and as Mimi in La Bohème. On the concert stage, she joined Plácido Domingo at the Teatro Real in Madrid and at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro as part of the World Cup celebration, and performed alongside baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in a gala concert with the Turkish Opera and Ballet Theatre. In addition, she created a unique recital program, accompanied by Craig Terry on piano, that she brought to Vocal Arts DC and to the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
During the 2012 – 13 season Ms. Martinez joined Opera National de Paris in a role debut as Antonia in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich for three engagements: as the title role in Rusalka, as Mimi in La Bohème and as Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffman, and returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Mimi, prompting Opera News to rave that “Ana María Martínez contributed a radiantly vulnerable Mimi, consistently employing her darkly-textured lyric soprano with great sensitivity to dynamics and text. “Donde lieta uscì” emerged as the centerpiece of her interpretation, particularly with a delicate fining away of tone in the final phrases.” In addition, she joined Plácido Domingo for several performances, including for her debut with The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, and for gala performances with the New Orleans Opera, Abu Dhabi Festival in the United Arab Emirates, and Arena di Verona in Italy, among others. Concert engagements included performances with the Puerto Rico Symphony at the Casals Festival, San Antonio Symphony, Mercury Baroque in Houston, the Seoul Philharmonic, and with the English National Opera Orchestra in London. In addition, she offered a solo recital with Festival Miami. This season Best Buy and HP honored her as a Latina Trailblazer.
Career milestones for the soprano include her headline-making recent role and house debut as Rusalka with the Glyndebourne Festival, a performance that was recording live and released on the Glyndeourne label. Rave reviews for her portrayal include: “When Martinez sings that “to suffer is to feel alive” in her lustrous, vibrant voice (an intoxicating composite of Slavic darkness and Latin brilliance), you believe her,” (The Independent) Additional notable engagements include her performances with The Los Angeles Opera of Amelia in Simon Boccanegra opposite Plácido Domingo in the title role, her debut with The Metropolitan Opera as Micaëla in Carmen, and her acclaimed role debut as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Houston Grand Opera in a new production by Tony Award winning director Michael Grandage. Concert engagements are highlighted by her debut at Teatro alla Scala with the Filharmonica della Scala, under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in a concert conducted by Alan Gilbert in selections from West Side Story, as well as several engagements in in her birth place of Puerto Rico with the Puerto Rico Symphony.
Highlights of her leading operatic roles in the United States include her performances with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Nedda in Pagliacci, Mimi in La Bohème, and Marguerite in Faust, performances with the Los Angeles Opera as Mimi and as Violetta in La Traviata, conducted by Maestro Domingo, and her portrayals of Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Washington National Opera. She sang Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Micaëla in Carmen, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte all with San Francisco Opera, Mimi in La Bohème with Opera de Puerto Rico, and Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus at Dallas Opera. 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, and Mimi in La Bohème where Opera proclaimed “the great performance of the festival was the poignant, sterling Mimì of Ana María Martínez: every phrase glowing and beautifully sculpted with admirable stylistic mastery.” An alumnae of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Ms. Martinez maintains a strong relationship with the house, portraying some of her most beloved characters there, and returning season after season. In addition to her Cio-Cio San debut, additional leading roles in the house include Rosina in a new production of 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, and Lucero in the world premiere of Daniel Catán’s Salsipuedes. To her great honor, she was the inaugural recipient of the Lynn Wyatt Great Artist Award, which is granted by the Houston Grand Opera and Lynn and Oscar Wyatt.
In recent seasons, Ms. Martinez has portrayed leading roles on Europe’s most important stages including her recent role debut as Alice Ford in Falstaff for a return engagement with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for which Opera News declared “her radiant soprano moving as accurately and elegantly around the notes as she did in negotiating the physical intricacies of [the] staging,” and The Guardian wrote “Ana Maria Martinez is a bright-voiced and sexy Alice, a natural leader of women…” Additional performances at Covent Garden include Violetta in La Traviata and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She sang Liu in Turandot and Nedda in Pagliacci both with De Nederlandse Opera, the title role in Luisa Miller and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro both with the Bayerische Staatsoper. She made her debut with the Hamburg Opera as Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialgues des Carmelites, her debut with the Vienna Staatsoper as Adina in L’elisir d’amore, and her debut with the Deutsche Oper Berlin as the title character in Götz Friedrich’s production of Luisa Miller. She joined the Vienna Staatsoper as Pamina in the Die Zauberflöte, the Dresden Semper Opera as Mimì in La Bohème, and the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Mimì in La Bohème, Violetta in La Traviata, and as Donna Elvira in their production of Don Giovanni at at the Festival Castell de Paralada, Spain. She made her debut with the Opera National de Paris as Amelia in a new production of Simon Boccanegra, and returned as the title role in their new production of Luisa Miller. In addition, 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.
For many seasons Ms. Martinez has enjoyed collaborating on multi-city concert tours with tenor Plácido Domingo which has taken them to all corners of the globe. Highlights of their collaboration include concerts at the Ravinia Festival, the Salzburg Festival in an all-Zarzuela concert recored live entitled Amor, Vida de Mi Vida, to a Gala performance at the Teatro Real in Madrid in celebration of the tenor’s birthday, and for a performance at The White House.
She has also performed on numerous international concert tours with 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 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, broadcast on PBS stations nationwide, and released on DVD and CD in an album entitled Concerto: One Night in Central Park.
Ms. Martinez’s concert career includes solo engagements with some of the world’s most celebrated orchestras and conductors. She has performed with the Tchaikovsky Symphony in Moscow, 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 a concert at Millenium Park, and Washington National Opera 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, her debut with the Orchestre de Paris to sing Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony, and joined the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel. She performed with tenor Joseph Calleja in an open-air televised gala concert with the Esterhazy Festival in Austria, sang at the Ravinia Festival in concert performances as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte conducted by James Conlon, joined the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy, and has appeared on several occasions with the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico.
Ms. Martinez’s recording collection is highlighted by her solo disc, entitled Ana María Martínez – Soprano Songs and Arias, recorded with the Prague Philharmonia conducted by Steven Mercurio on Naxos. She stars on the Decca DVD Cosi Fan Tutte filmed at the Salzburg Festival and performs the role of Nedda opposite Andrea Bocelli in the Universal CD recording of Pagliacci which debuted at #1. DVDs on the Euro Arts label include Spanish Night with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Plácido Domingo, and Amor, Vida de Mi Vida where she joins Plácido Domingo for Zarzuelas recorded live with the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. In addition, her discography includes a performance on Steven Mercurio’s Sony Classical CD, Many Voices, and the Latin Grammy award-winning recording of Albeniz’s Merlin with Plácido Domingo (Decca), which coincided with the Grammy nominated recording of Bacalov’s Misa Tango with Plácido Domingo (Deutsche Grammophon). Additional recordings include 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 in the Denzel Washington film “John Q,” and her “Je veux vivre” from Romeo et Juliette can be heard in the movie “Factory Girl.”
A graduate of the Juilliard School with Bachelor and Master of Music degrees and alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Martinez 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. Martinez offers candid encouragement to young singers as a contributing editor to Classical Singer Magazine. She is the recipient of the National Association of Latina Leaders’ Groundbreaking Latina in Music award. Her recollections and reflections are 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.