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’ recent cover story on Ms. Martínez 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.” Ms. Martínez will be heard during the 2018 – 2019 season with the Los Angeles Opera as both Elisabetta in their production of Don Carlo and as Solea in El Gato Montes opposite Plácido Domingo in the title role. She joins Vienna Staatsoper as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly and Houston Grand Opera as the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas.
The stunning soprano began the 2017 – 2018 season in the title role of Carmen with Los Angeles Opera where she “oozed sexuality and mischief as the opera’s flawed protagonist, seen at its peak during her Seguidilla. Martínez is as fine an actress as she is a musician — her thick lower register made her execution all the more alluring.” (Opera Wire) She joined Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires as Rusalka, Lyric Opera of Chicago as both Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte and Marguerite in Faust, Royal Opera House Covent Garden as Alice Ford in Falstaff, Florida Grand Opera as the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas, and finally Santa Fe Opera as Cio-Cio San in their production of Madama Butterfly. On the concert stage she joined the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra in honor of Plácido Domingo’s 50th Anniversary, sang Verdi’s Requiem in San Sebastian, Spain, with Maestro Domingo conducting, offered solo concerts with the San Antonio Symphony, and was heard in recitals throughout the United States.
Leading roles for Ms. Martinez during the 2016-2017 season included Marguerite in Faust with Houston Grand Opera, where Opera News proclaimed “Martinez’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.” She had a role debut as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and performed as Cio Cio San in Madame Butterfly with Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with San Francisco Opera. She joined star tenor Andrea Bocelli in concerts through the United States, performed with Plácido Domingo at the Arena di Verona, among other stages, and voiced the role of opera singer Alessandra in season three of Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle.
During the 2015 – 2016 season Ms. Martínez made her triumphant return in a leading 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.” She opened the Los Angeles Opera’s season as Nedda in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Pagliacci, under the baton of Plácido Domingo, and sang Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with the Los Angeles Opera, Opera de Puerto Rico, and the Mariinsky Theater Primorsky Stage in Vladivostok, Russia. She returned to Houston Grand Opera as the title role in Rusalka, The Metropolitan Opera as Musetta in La bohème, and to San Francisco Opera in a role debut as Elisabetta in Don Carlo. She debuted with the Mostly Mozart Festival and joined Plácido Domingo in concert with the Salzburg Festival, the Starlight Festival in Marbella Spain, with Viñedos San Gabriel in Ensenada, Baja, in Manaus, Brazil, at the Dubai Opera House 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.
Ms. Martinez has joined Lyric Opera of Chicago most recently as Donna Elvira in a new Robert Falls production of Don Giovanni, and debuted her Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello and Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with the Company. Opera News wrote of her Rusalka with Lyric Opera that “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.” In addition, she has sung Mimi in La boheme, Nedda in Pagliacci, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte and Marguerite in Faust all with Lyric Opera.
An alumnae of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Ms. Martínez maintains a strong relationship with the house, portraying some of her most beloved characters there, and returning season after season. She debuted her title role of Carmen in Houston where Opera News proclaimed “Ana María Martínez’s amazing performance as Carmen established a benchmark for the role in the Houston Grand Opera performance of Bizet’s opera. There was, first, Martínez’s rich, lustrous, and voluptuous soprano, which she modulated toward gutsy power in her low range and arresting brilliance at the top. Beyond her singing, alone worth the price of admission, Martínez reveled in Carmen’s flamboyance and seductive charisma, so that her every gesture radiated the persona of this dangerous but irresistible gypsy.” With Houston Grand Opera she also debuted the role of Cio-Cio San, and performed as 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, 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 along with Lynn and Oscar Wyatt.
Highlights of her leading operatic roles in the United States include her performances with the Los Angeles Opera as Mimi and as Violetta in La Traviata, conducted by Maestro Domingo, and Amelia in Simon Boccanegra opposite Plácido Domingo in the title role. She her made her debut with The Metropolitan Opera as Micaëla in Carmen, sang Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Washington National Opera, 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 and Mimi in La Bohème 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, Mimi in La Bohème, and as the title role in Carmen.
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. 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 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. With the Vienna Staatsoper she performed as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, conducted by Plácido Domingo, and as Pamina in the Die Zauberflöte, and joined the Bayerische Staatsoper as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, 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 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.
The soprano won the Pepita Embil Award at the 1995 Operalia II, and since then has been honored to tour around the world with Pláido Domingo. Highlights of their performances together include concerts at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro as part of the World Cup celebration, her debut with The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, the Abu Dhabi Festival in the United Arab Emirates, and at the Arena di Verona in Italy. Together they have joined the Ravinia Festival, the Teatro Real in Madrid, in performance at The White House, and at the Salzburg Festival in an all-Zarzuela concert recored live entitled Amor, Vida de Mi Vida. Ms. Martinez 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 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 sings the title role in Manon Lescaut (Decca) recorded opposite Andrea Bocelli with Plácido Domingo conducting the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana.
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, under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in a concert 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, 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 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, 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, recorded with the Prague Philharmonia conducted by Steven Mercurio on Naxos, which was selected by Gramophone Magazine as an “Editor’s Choice.” 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 Gramophone). 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, 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. Martínez has offered 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.
“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