Cher Public

The Great Lady Has an Interview

martina_thumbLegendary diva Martina Arroyo chats with Our Own JJ about learning, teaching and The Odd Couple. [New York Post]

  • operaman50

    Think of all of today’s PRETENDERS who could learn from this short, abbreviated clip!!

  • brooklynpunk

    Martina is THE TOPS in pure GRACIOUSNESS…(BESIDES being a GREAT ARTIST…!)

    I have seen her a number of times thru the past years at events surrounding her Foundation, and she has always remembered (or at least given a good show) me and my friend who has a Guide dog…and been very welcoming, indeed…!

    BRAVA,Ms. Arroyo…!!

  • callasorphan

    love you, dear Martina!!

  • Batty Masetto

    What a doll. And an extraordinary voice, not just in opera -- she’s utterly spine-tingling in the first movement of Kubelik’s recording of Mahler’s Eighth.

    A true camp moment in a great career: fairly early on, she recorded Stockhausen’s “Momente,” which includes German text from the Song of Solomon. If you listen carefully you’ll hear Martina bubbling cheerfully in the background: “Ich bin schwarz, denn die Sonne hat mich so verbrannt!” Not only does she get the humor, she’s clearly running with it.

  • PirateJenny

    love her love her love her. Such a creamy, delicious and effortless sound!

  • Will

    By the time I to her Donna Anna at the MET she was rock solid in the part and just fine.

    Most memorable moment, I think was her legendary appearance on a MET intermission round Table with Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne:

    “. . . when I was singing Madame Butterball . . .”

    “Where Ms Blegen would trip lightly down the stairs, with me it’s more like a LUNGE!”

    In answer to Sutherland saying that one is BORN with a trill: “But Joan, don’t you think you were overdoing it a bit when you came in today and said
    o o o o
    ‘Hell- -o- -o- -o- -o!'”

    • reedroom

      There is an urban legend which reflects her self-deprecating humor and quick wit…apparently (so the story goes) it was around the time when Leontyne made her MET debut, and there were few African-American singers working at the time. When Ms. Arroyo arrived at the house for a performance, the doorman said, “Good evening Miss. Price” and Martina quipped, “No, honey, I’m the other one”. I’ve always wondered if that was a true story.

      • parpignol

        I thought the punchline, after “Good evening Miss Price,” was Arroyo replying, in a very high-pitched voice, “No, I’m Reri Grist!”

        • ilpenedelmiocor

          A version of this story I heard Arroyo herself tell was that a woman in the audience at a Met performance she attended approached her effusively, mistaking her for Leontyne Price. Arroyo replied (and I do remember her lowering her voice when delivering this line ), “I’m sorry, madame, but my name is Anderson.”

  • Will

    Oh, dear — the formatting didn’t hold, but you get the idea, I hope.

  • SopracutO

    The best singing ever

  • There was a story around IU that on her birthday her students were having some cake and the phone rings; it was the Pav and his birthday greeting was Tu sie vecchia, vecchia, vecchia

    Her response? E tu sei piu vecchio e piu grasso

    That woman is just fabulous. I miss talking to her.

  • parpignol

    I remember her singing Donna Anna with Siepi (and Gedda), don’t remember any awkwardness, just how beautiful her voice was; and I remember a spectacularly beautiful performance of Trovatore around the same time; what I don’t remember (I was just a kid) was how people described or classified her type of voice and repertory and whether that was an obvious thing, to move back and forth between Leonora and Donna Anna. . . I did not remember the Odd Couple episode; thank you for posting that!

    • armerjacquino

      She sang Elvira too, didn’t she? On record at least. Nilsson, Arroyo, Grist; that recording ought to have been better.

  • messa di voce

    Will anyone hazard a guess to to why Arroyo’s career just about ended when she turned forty? She seemed to have an excellent technique, and the voice always sounded as if it just came out so easily. I remember some bad reviews around that time (Dutchman, was there a Norma?), but nothing more.

    • richard

      This is just my observation, nothing very definitive or scientific, understand.

      I saw quite a bit of Arroyo in the early 70s, she performed at the Met very, very frequently in Bing’s last 6-7 years. After he left, she still appeared at the Met , but not quite with as much frequency. I recall a solid, if not overwhelming MAcbeth and a very convincing Gioconda from the mid 70s. But as the decade ran on, I heard a couple of very rough performances; and Andrea Chenier and Trovatore from 1977 where she sounded worse for the wear. She seemed to fade a way from the Met for a number of seasons.

      Then I heard her (actually for the last time) at the MEt Centennial Gala, she sang the Aida-Amneris duet from act 2 and seemed in solid form again, which was heartening. After that she seemed to have a bit of an Indian Summer career at the Met with some performances sprinkled over the mid 80s and beyond.

      My own conclusion (again, not real scientific) was that she made have gone through a bad patch around 1977-78 and took some time away from the Met to rework things. As I mentioned, it was good to hear her again sounding in reasonable shape in 1983.

      In all honesty, I was never a huge , huge fan and we occasionally got her when a more important soprano didn’t show up. But I came to appreciate her very solid, sincere way of singing. And her personality, which was displayed often on the Met intermission programs was very, very winning.

      • No Expert

        She was one of those great artists with personality plus who helped opera reach folks in the flyover, like me, back in the 70’s. I wore out my La Juive highlights with her, Tucker, and Moffo.

      • richard

        Another consideration was that Arroyo wasn’t terribly magnetic on the stage. She was aware of this but couldn’t seem to do too much about it.

        She could occasionally turn a bit away from her usual very easy going personality over this issue.

        One of her high profile replacements was Bing’s last opening night, the Don Carlo of fall 1971. Caballe was promised and (I think) became pregnant. So Arroyo got the gig. She was criticized for her low key portrayal and for once snapped back a less than humorous retort. “It’s a very static role, what do you expect me to do, roller skate around the stage?”.

        I think very slowly she improved with her stage presence. One of the performances of hers I really responded to was (a bit to my surprise) her La Gioconda where she was able to portray Gioconda’s
        changing moods. This worked well with the honest sincerity she always brought to her performances.

  • MontyNostry

    Love her basic sound — I’m not sure there’s any heavierweight soprano around today who sounds as solid and shining as that — but she just doesn’t join the notes together in a memorable way or give the line a particular shape. Clearly a fabulous woman, though.

  • I have only one Arroyo recording — a live Aida from La Scala (her debut?) with Domingo, Cossotto and Capuccili, conducted by Abbado. It is one of my favourite recordings of the opera and Cossotto and Cappuccili sound better than they do on the studio recording with Muti/Caballe (made around the same time). I think I’ll put it on my ipod tonight.

    • No Expert

      You need to track this one down, kashania. If nothing else for the album cover!

      • That is some album cover. And I don’t have a Juive

      • callasorphan

        That’s a wonderful recording, No expert--I loved it and remember it very well!

  • I’m with Montry Nostry on this. She never did it for me, although I adored her on The Tonight Show. Her singing didn’t impress me, but she has always seemed like she’d be fun to know.

  • peter

    Listen to the live Macbeth on Sirius with Arroyo. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Not one you usually associate with Lady Macbeth but she’ll amaze you.

  • Arianna a Nasso

    Kashania @ 13 -- I believe that performance is from Munich when La Scala was on tour and performing at the 1972 Olympics.

    Arroyo was one of those queens of replacements. On disc, her Vespri, Ballo, and Donna Anna were for Caballe, and maybe the Forza too. I believe the DG Donna Elvira also was a replacement but don’t remember for whom (Janowitz?). Does anyone here know?

    The Met Macbeths were replacing Ludwig, suffering from her menopause related vocal crisis. Was the Gioconda run also a replacement? It wasn’t part of her regular repertoire and not exactly her temperament either.

    • callasorphan

      I really tend to think her recording career was as a replacement. I still enjoyed her recording very much.

    • ilpenedelmiocor

      AND I DIDN’T GO!?!?! Domingo? Cossotto? Capucilli? I could kill myself. I’m sure the tickets were outrageously expensive (I was a student at the time) and also restlos ausverkauft, but still, I should have at least tried.

      I did get to see NYCB though, first time I ever saw Gelsey Kirkland perform (very well, if not very happily).

  • Last night, I listened to the first two acts of that Aida. And I must sadly concur with some of the criticsm about Arroyo’s singing. The voice is very fine. And the delivery is sincere and she is emotionally engaged. However, 90% of the time, there isn’t much going on musically — not a lot of phrasing, not much sense of line. The notes are produced beautifully (and as I said, not without emotion) but the phrasing is lacking.

    • ilpenedelmiocor

      Yeah, it was never very exciting to watch her perform live, but she had a tremendous voice, and I have a lot of respect for her. And just consider, she was the Verdi REPLACEMENT soprano of the day; today she’d be the got-to Verdi soprano. Plus she was so comfortably and hilariously self-deprecating it was impossible not to like her as a person.

  • Olivero is my Drug of Choice

    IMHO opinion, one thing that held MME Arroyo back was her inability to produce a true pianissimo above the staff. She just didn’t have it in her voice. Her colleagues at the time, Price-Caballe etc., were known for their floating Pianissimi.