Bringing Opera to the Masses

Written by Mary Newman on . Posted in Arts Our Town, Arts West Side Spirit.


West Side resident Jane Marsh draws on her prestigious background as an opera singer in her job at the Met

City Arts A_Opera lady_optJane Marsh has showcased her contagious enthusiasm and unquestionable talent to every major stage and opera around the world. The West Side resident is the artistic and program consultant at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, a job she’s held since 2007, and through her work she’s been sharing her vast knowledge of music with New Yorkers of all generations.

Marsh is one of the most decorated opera singers of her time, and became the face of her industry after she was invited by the White House to represent the United States in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. She made the country proud by becoming the first singer in history to win the Gold Medal for singing at what was considered by many to be the toughest music competition in the world. Her career has taken her around the world to perform in all the major opera houses, learning to speak five languages fluently, and making appearances on the Ed Sullivan, Art Buchwald, Hollywood Palace, Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin shows.

President Lyndon B. Johnson described Marsh “America’s National Treasure. She has lifted the eyes of men to the things which make us brothers, the hunger and the respect of all men for beauty, and all men for excellence, and the delight and communication in art,” he said. Marsh went on to build a career starring in operas by Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Strauss, and Bellini, and the Russian repertoire.

Recently, she has taught students ranging from undergraduates at Hunter College, to senior citizens in the JASA continuing education program. “The proportions of my educational endeavors are now closer to my performing endeavors,” she said. “I’ve now increased doing lectures, and master classes [in New York] allowing me to be the Artistic Director of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.”

Marsh highlighted The Met: Live in HD festival which takes place in August and early September each year. It is a series that presents ten lectures on ten consecutive days that coincides with the Met’s Summer HD Festival. The HD Festival offers free open-air screening of the past season’s live productions in Lincoln Center Plaza. Those who prefer reserved seating can buy tickets, which include a pre-performance lecture, including several by Marsh.

“Everything that I do in lectures and in master classes always has a performance element to it. I think that is one of the draws about me,” she said while discussing how she is working to attract more people to the Guild. Each season she helps to coordinate the schedule for lectures and master classes. “We like to know what kinds of things the public seems to be wanting, how it matches what is going to be presented at the Metropolitan Opera, and who are the best people to present these things,” she explained.

This past February, she offered several master classes for high school students. Here, Marsh helped students prepare for music school auditions, and develop their ability to pursue careers in music at a collegiate level. In March, she will be offering a lecture course on Verdi Death Scenes.

The Met Opera was indirectly involved in choosing Jane Marsh to compete in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, and offered her a contract after only a year of training at the Oberlin Conservatory and College. “The Met Opera brought me together with a cluster of major conductors, who engaged me, and later were involved in the search committee for the International Tchaikovsky Competition,” she said. “Interesting the Met Opera came into my life at a crucial time and played a bigger than life role. Made me realize that destiny was part of the process.”

Specific dates for Marsh’s classes can be found on the Metropolitan Opera Guild website at www.metguild.org. You can also call 212-769-7028 to inquire about tickets, lectures, master classes, and joining the Guild as a member.

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