Janis Martin (soprano)
Janis Martin (born 16 August 1939) is a retired American opera singer who sang leading roles first as a mezzo-soprano and later as a soprano in opera houses throughout Europe and the United States. She is particularly known for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and sang at the Bayreuth Festival from 1968 to 1997.
Martin was born in Sacramento, California and studied at both California State University, Sacramento and the University of California, Berkeley. She began studying singing in Sacramento with Julia Monroe and later studied in New York with Lili Wexberg and Otto Gruth. She made her operatic debut in 1960 at San Francisco Opera as Theresa in La sonnambula  and at 21 was the youngest member of the company that season. She continued to sing a number of comprimario mezzo-soprano roles with the company through 1969, including Sister Anne in the 1961 world premiere of Norman Dello Joio's opera Blood Moon. She returned as a soprano in 1970 in the title role of Tosca and appeared there regularly though 1990, when she sang the role of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung for the company's complete performance of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
On 23 March 1962 she had won the National Finals of Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions singing "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" from Samson et Dalila, and later that week made her New York City Opera debut as Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw. Her Metropolitan Opera debut came on 19 December 1962 when she sang Flora Bervoix in La traviata with Anna Moffo as Violetta. She went on to sing 147 performances at the Met between 1962 and 1997, first in mezzo-soprano roles, including Singer in the 1964 US premiere of Menotti's The Last Savage and from 1973 leading soprano roles including Kundry in Parsifal, Marie in Wozzeck, Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer, and the title role in Tosca. Her final appearance with the company was in 1997 when she sang Brünnhilde in Die Walküre with Plácido Domingo as Siegmund and Deborah Voigt as Sieglinde.
Martin sang with the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1971 to 1988 and at the Bayreuth Festival from 1968 to 1997 as Eva and Magdalena (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg); Fricka, Sieglinde, and Brünnhilde (Die Walküre); Gutrune and 2nd Norn (Götterdämmerung); Fricka and Freia (Das Rheingold) and Kundry (Parsifal). Her performances in other European opera houses include Venus (Tannhäuser), Marie (Wozzeck) and The Woman (Erwartung) at La Scala; Marie at the Royal Opera House; Brünnhilde at the Vienna State Opera, Isolde (1981) and Kundry at the Oper Zürich (1981), and Ariadne at the Staatsoper Hannover (1982).
- Arnold Schoenberg: Erwartung – Janis Martin; BBC Symphony Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, conductor (1977). Label: CBS.
- Richard Wagner: Rienzi (complete recording of Wagner's shortened 1843 version) – René Kollo, Siv Wennberg, Janis Martin, Theo Adam; Dresden Staatskapelle; Heinrich Hollreiser, conductor (1975). Label: EMI.
- Richard Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer – Norman Bailey, Janis Martin, René Kollo, Martti Talvela, Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus; Sir Georg Solti,conductor (1976). Label:Decca.
Notes and references
- Hamilton (1987) p. 214. Note that Cummings (2003) lists Annina in La traviata at San Francisco Opera as her debut role.
- Smith (24 March 1962) p. 5
- San Francisco Opera Archives
- Metropolitan Opera Archives
- Bayreuther Festspiele
- Jung (27 June 2005)
- MacDonald (September 1984)
- Bayreuther Festspiele, Janis Martin (in German). Accessed 26 October 2010.
- Cummings, David (ed.), "Martin, Janis", International Who's Who in Classical Music 2003, Routledge, 2003, p. 509. ISBN 1-85743-174-X
- Hamilton, David (ed.), "Martin, Janis", The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia, Simon and Schuster, 1987, p. 214. ISBN 0-671-61732-X
- Jung, Pam, "'Wet Ink' to feature opera singer", Grass Valley Union, 27 June 2005. Accessed 26 October 2010.
- MacDonald, Calum, Review of recordings of Arnold Schoenberg (September 1984). Tempo (New Ser.), 150: pp. 52–56
- Metropolitan Opera Archives, Performance Record: Martin, Janis (Mezzo Soprano, Soprano), MetOpera Database. Accessed 26 October 2010.
- San Francisco Opera Archives, Janis Martin. Accessed 26 October 2010.
- Smith, Miles A., "Janis Mertin wins Audition at Met", The Lewiston Daily Sun (via Associated Press), 24 March 1962, p. 5. Accessed 26 October 2010.