Telling all on The Lebrecht Interview this week is Marilyn Horne, one of the first Americans to bestride world opera and the diva to did most to restore Rossini to centre stage.
Hers is a story of unyielding courage and self-confidence. As a college student, she corrected Stravinsky and Hindemith on baroque singing. Fifty years ago, she stormed the German scene with one of the most powerful renditions of Marie in Berg’s Wozzeck.
Against her family’s wishes, she married Henry Lewis, an Afro-American bass player (and rising conductor), sacrificing her career in the segregated parts of the US. She fought for what was right and, usually, she won – as many conductors can testify.
There’s a Roman clip of her on youtube singing the Liber Scriptus in Verdi’s Requiem with a young Pavarotti seated transfixed behind her.
Today, in her late 70s, she runs a foundation that fosters opportunities for young American singers. Ms Horne speaks her mind as eevr in our conversation, respects no vanities, takes no prisoners. She remains a breath of fresh air in an art full of pomp.
The Lebrecht Interview with Marilyn Horne goes out tonight at 9.15 on BBC Radio 3, and is streamed on site for the next week.