Mezzo-soprano, cancer survivor and general role model celebrates in style with gala tribute in New York.

Reneé Fleming, Piotr Beczała and veteran Broadway actor Barbara Cook were among the singing stars paying tribute to legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne on the occasion of her 80th birthday last week.

Samuel Ramey and Frederica von Stade hosted the glittering evening at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, documenting Horne’s career from her California upbringing, through her sudden fame as the voice of Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones in 1954, and so on to become one of the best loved singers of the 20th century. Her career included, for many years, an acclaimed vocal partnership with Dame Joan Sutherland as the two singers played crucial roles in the bel canto revival.

Horne, who during her speech said that maybe she would skip an 85th-birthday bash, still has an active schedule with The Marilyn Horne Foundation which was started 20 years ago to support young singers, some of whom were present to pay their respects. She also runs the voice program at Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West.

Responding to the thunderous ovation, Horne referenced her fight ten years ago against pancreatic cancer. “When you look at...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now