The Music Academy of the West joined the Fiesta spirit for the first time this year, partnering with Old Spanish Days to recognize legendary opera singer Marilyn Horne as part of her 80th birthday celebration and honoring her as “La Diva of Old Spanish Days.”
“We are thrilled to bestow this honor upon a legend and true legacy of the Music Academy of the West,” said Scott Reed, president of the Music Academy.
The El Desfile Histórico (Historical Parade) on Friday is also celebrating an anniversary, marking 90 years for one of the largest equestrian parades in the United States.
Horne will join in the parade festivities, riding in an antique carriage with Reed and the Music Academy’s presenting sponsors, Montecito Bank & Trust, represented by chairman Michael Towbes and president and CEO Janet Garufis.
“Having grown up in California — not in Santa Barbara but in Long Beach — I do know an awful lot about the history of Old Spanish Days in California because we all had to study it in school,” Horne said. “I feel very much at home with all of this and our Fiestas in Long Beach were never as cool as this.
“This is a very famous, famous Fiesta, and I’m so thrilled and honored that you made me a part of it.”
Accolades for Horne also include a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 1974, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Gramophone magazine, Kennedy Center honoree in 1995, National Medal of Arts in 1992 and induction to the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.
Horne attended the Music Academy in 1953 and, since 1995, has been a member of the faculty, also directing the Voice Program since 1997.
“In 2002, Opera News referred to Marilyn Horne as ‘the most influential singer in American History’,” Reed said. “We are so produce to have her as part of our Santa Barbara community.”
An upcoming fully staged production of Bizet’s Carmen is scheduled for Friday and Sunday, with conductor James Gaffigan, director David Paul and Horne as voice program director. Making this year’s performance an even more special celebration will be the setting — a post-1850s Old Spanish Days Santa Barbara with the final scene taking place at Fiesta in the historic Granada Theatre.
Founded in 1947, the Music Academy is a full scholarship training program for the world’s most talented classical musicians, and each summer brings 140 of the most promising young musicians to Santa Barbara to train with a world-class faculty.
The Honorary La Diva of Old Spanish Days event also included a special Carmen performance, and Horne introduced the singers as part of a thank you for the honor and to the community on behalf of the Music Academy.
“What better way for us to say thank you and for me to say thank you than music,” Horne exclaimed. “We have three of our wonderful performers from the summer here who are cast in Carmen – Deanna Pauletto and Andrew Manea, accompanied by Mario Antonio Marra.”
Admission to the program is strictly merit-based and Fellows receive full scholarships with tuition, room and board. Fellows who join the program from universities and conservatories across the country include Yale, Rice, Northwestern, The Julliard School and New England Conservatory.
Alumni of the Music Academy include prominent solo artists and members of major ensembles, opera companies, chamber and symphony orchestras, and university and conservatory faculties.
The Music Academy presents more than 200 public events annually with performances by Fellows, visiting artists and faculty. A vocal masterclass with Horne is scheduled for Aug. 6.