About Martha Howe - Performer
A versatile singing actress, contralto Martha Jane Howe has performed with numerous opera companies and symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Canada and Austria, specializing in 20th century repertoire and consistently receiving critical praise for her rich voice and interpretive skill.
The lists of Martha’s performances and repertoire (navigation above) demonstrate her versatility and musicianship. She began in the San Diego Opera Chorus while at San Diego State University, was an early participant in the SDO young artists program (with Aprile Millo), and has since performed roles in Boris Godunov, Rigoletto, A Village Romeo and Juliet, Juana La Loca, La Traviata, Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Figaro, Albert Herring, Rape of Lucretia, Roméo et Juliette, Eugene Onegin, and Cold Sassy Tree with San Diego Opera.
New York, NY:
A native San Diegan, Martha moved to New York City in 1980, where she was based for fourteen years, building her career. She has performed well over a hundred opera and concert roles with large and small companies, including Chicago, San Francisco and Milwaukee Symphonies, and at Carnegie Hall. Martha returned for multiple seasons with Lyric Opera of Chicago (5), San Francisco Opera (2), Washington/Kennedy Center (2), Canadian Opera (3), and Long Beach Opera (5). One of the major highlights of her career was Wagner’s Ring cycle conducted by Zubin Mehta at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she also performed in Prokofiev’s The Gambler, Elektra, Die Walküre, Die Verkaufte Braut, La Sonnambula, and the world premiere of William Bolcom’s McTeague. Her five seasons with the Lyric also brought the opportunity to step in for Leonie Rysanek, with no rehearsal, on three hours notice, to the role of Klytämnestra in Strauss’ Elektra.
Among the world premieres she was privileged to participate in along the way, were a Nixon in China “Works in Process” at the Guggenheim, Menotti’s Juana la Loca, Bolcom’s McTeague, and an alternative music production of Trespass Knot in San Francisco. She also performed in the western-world premiere of the first Muslim operetta, Hajibeyli’s Arsin mal alan “The Cloth Peddler” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.
From New York, Martha moved to San Francisco for several years, when she was tapped by a committee of solo singers in the American Guild of Musical Artists to represent solo singers at the negotiating table for the Basic Agreement and the National Agreement. This was the first time that an active performing artist attended and had direct input in negotiations with opera management, and it was a time of clarification of fee structures, intellectual and publicity rights, and working hours. Martha then moved to Europe, living in France near Geneva for a year, and settling for a decade in Vienna, Austria.
While living in Vienna, Martha began teaching voice and Acting While Singing both at the Vienna Musical School and in the nearby town of Baden, directed productions at VMS, built a private voice studio, and debuted in Vienna in two contemporary one-act operas by Param Vir with Musik Werkstatt Wien. She presented numerous recitals in Vienna, including two concerts of new works in the Alte Schmiede, and three Liederabend concerts in the renowned Schubertkirche, Lichtental. She performed the alto solos in J.S. Bach’s B-minor Mass in München, and three Bach cantatas in Eisenstadt, Austria and in Haydn’s home, Schloss Esterhazy in Hungary. In 2001, she recorded Van de Vate’s All Quiet On the Western Front, and in 2007 sang the Duchess of Plaza-Toro in Gondoliers with the Kammeroper Wien.
She was also the vocal coach for productions of Hair and Footloose! in Güssing, Austria, and presented workshops and master classes in Hamburg and Berlin where her students were performing in major productions of Les Miserables, Mamma Mia, Cabaret, Tanz der Vampire, Elizabeth and Cats.
San Diego, CA
She returned to San Diego from Vienna in 2007 and established a thriving private voice studio while teaching a Voice Class and Performance Studies as an Adjunct at Grossmont College. She served on the Executive Board of the San Diego chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, on the Executive Board of the Musical Merit Foundation of San Diego and became an Associate Member and occasional writer for the prestigious, Philadelphia based The Voice Foundation.
While in San Diego from 2007-13, Martha also performed multiple recitals and sang Jocasta in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the La Jolla Symphony, two concerts with the Bach Collegium San Diego, plus Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death, the Bach Magnificat and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonnelle with the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra and Master Chorale. She performed Katisha in The Mikado, Aunt Jahan in the western-world premiere of Arsin mal alan, and enjoyed returning to a role in Rigoletto with San Diego Opera that she had first performed with them in 1978.
In the months before leaving San Diego to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in September of 2013, Martha performed a recital with Mary Barranger for the Athenaeum Jacobs Series, reprised Katisha in The Mikado with Bodhi Tree Concerts, visited Vienna, Austria to teach and present a masterclass, and performed the role of Aunt Jahan in the western-world premiere and hundredth anniversary of the first Muslim operetta, Hajibeyli’s Arsin mal alan “The Cloth Peddler” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, under the auspices of the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.
In 2014, Bodhi Tree Concerts is bringing Martha back to San Diego to perform Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, and sing a recital with Mary Barranger on their series titled “Voices of Women”. For details, please see www.bodhitreeconcerts.org
Baton Rouge, LA