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Opera for All

Soprano Martina Arroyo teaches a master class at Tsai


Tonight a new generation of opera singers will benefit from a lesson in musicality and performance from a soprano who has won renown in opera houses from New York’s Metropolitan to Milan’s La Scala. Martina Arroyo will be at the Tsai Performance Center to lead a master class for BU Opera Institute students.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is an opportunity for both participants and audience: the students will have their work critiqued by a professional, and the audience will enjoy arias performed by emerging singers and refined by a master.

“I’m taking a new aria to her,” says Jessica Stavros (CFA’09). “I hope to connect to the piece more and have it more internalized after we’re finished.”

Arroyo, who recently donated her papers to BU’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, was among the early performers to challenge color barriers in the opera world. Born and raised in Harlem, Arroyo was a teacher and a social worker before she was cast in significant opera roles. Early in her career, she performed in Europe, where more stage opportunities for African-American singers were available, and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1965 in Aïda, substituting for soprano Birgit Nilsson. She has since opened the Metropolitan Opera season three times and has appeared at the Paris Opera, London’s Covent Garden, La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, and the Buenos Aires Teatro Colón.

Since her retirement in 1989, Arroyo has focused on teaching and developing resources for young artists. She is a member of the Carnegie Hall board of trustees, a trustee emerita of the Hunter College Foundation, and a Distinguished Professor of Music at Indiana University. Previously, she taught at the University of California at Los Angeles, Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, and Wilberforce University, in Ohio. In 2003, she founded the Martina Arroyo Foundation, with the goal of helping young singers prepare for the challenges of a career in classical vocal music. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Tonight’s master class begins at 7 p.m. at the Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave. Admission is free, but a ticket is required. For tickets, call the Tsai Center box office at 617-353-8725.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

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