Marilyn Horne dispenses wisdom and humor in master class at Peabody Conservatory
I was able to catch a portion of it and, like the rest of the packed house at Griswold Hall, I hung on every word, and also enjoyed some good one-liners -- as when she encouraged mezzo Jennifer Hamilton to put a more seductive spin on "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" from "Samson et Dalila." Horne asked the student to imagine herself singing "to a nice, sexy tenor -- good luck finding that."
It had to be extra nerve-inducing for Hamilton to sing an aria that used to be one of Horne's calling cards, but the young singer
Every time she interrupted to say "A tiny thing..." or "It's a very small point..." it was anything but; there was a lot of valuable information behind each observation she made. And, let's face it, there was a lot of weight behind it, too. When someone can preface a remark with, "As my dear friend Joan Sutherland used to say...", you're talking a voice of authority.
I was especially impressed with soprano Melissa Wimbish, who sang "Ah, non credea mirati" from "La Sonnambula" with considerable assurance -- and, at first, considerable animation: "You've got a little too much energy for a sleepwalker," Horne told the young soprano. The famed mezzo also helped bring to the student's work an enhanced sense of style, pointing out the small details that make a big difference in how such an aria registers. By the time this session was over, Wimbish was cranking out the bel canto with extra "bel." A master class, indeed.
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK OF MARILYN HORNE WITH JENNIFER HAMILTON COURTESY OF PEABODY CONSERVATORY