May 20, 2021
Spotlight on Ana María Martínez
Lyric audiences were first introduced to Puerto-Rican-born soprano Ana María Martínez in the 2008/09 Season as Nedda in Leoncavello’s Pagliacci.
Martínez's firm, soaring soprano mirrored the soaring spirit of a caged wife yearning to be free. This was the Puerto Rican-born singer's Lyric debut, and an impressive one it was.
The very next season, Martínez was back at Lyric as Marquerite in Gounod’s Faust, a role she returned to for a single stunning performance in the 2017/18 Season while she was in town for Così fan tutte.
Even more than most performances, this Faust puts Marguerite at the center, and as the innocent girl, seduced, corrupted and driven insane by Faust and the devil Mephistopheles, Ana María Martínez gave a powerful performance, unsettling at times in its intensity. The Puerto Rican soprano’s lyric voice has the youthful sound and flexibility for the role and Martínez went from strength to strength as the evening unfolded.
Martínez appeared at Lyric every season from 2012/13 through 2017/18. Audiences will undoubtedly remember her heartbreaking heroines Mimì (La bohème) and Desdemona (Otello), and her ethereal portrayal of Rusalka in the company premiere of the Dvořák opera.
Martínez’ beautifully crafted performance was of sufficient stature to rank as a highlight of her career to date, and, even more importantly, as a milestone in the performance history of the opera.
The soprano brought a fierce independence to Donna Elvira in our 2014/15 production of Don Giovanni, roaring onto the stage astride a motorcycle. Her next appearance was a role debut, bringing the naive yet resilient Tatiana (Eugene Onegin) to life onstage.
Ana María Martínez may be the best Donna Elvira I have ever seen. She tore into recitatives like an avenging harpy but subsequently revealed an exquisitely floated upper register in the Act II trio and excellent coloratura in “Mi tradì.”
Her most recent appearances were as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and in early 2020, Martínez brought her world-renowned portrayal of the title role of Madama Butterfly to Lyric.
Beloved by audiences around the world for her nuanced portrayals of opera's leading ladies, Martínez has a very special fan base in Chicago: students. She first began visiting Chicago-area schools in 2009 and was named an inaugural Community Ambassador in 2014. Over the years she has met with hundreds of students in schools throughout Chicago, leading discussions and master classes.
Success in the prestigious Operalia competition propelled Martínez to international prominence at a young age. Her exceptionally beautiful voice, probing musicality, extraordinary acting, and luminous stage presence have brought her starring roles with every major company, from the Met, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Houston Grand Opera (where she is the company’s first-ever artistic adviser) to Glyndebourne, London’s Royal Opera, and the Vienna State Opera, to name a few. The Grammy Award® winner has also memorably documented her artistry on CD and DVD. Among her honors is the National Association of Latina Leaders’ Groundbreaking Latina in Music award.
On December 13, 2020, Martínez returned to Lyric to host and star in Pasión Latina, a free virtual concert celebrating music of the Spanish-speaking world. Presented by The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the concert features current Ensemble members and esteemed alumni performing a dynamic selection of some of their favorite music from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina, and Spain. Watch it now Lyric's YouTube and Facebook and see her in the title role of Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas in Lyric's 2021/22 Season.