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‘Wet Ink’ to feature opera singer

Janis Martin, a retired opera singer living in Nevada County, will be singing in Music in the Mountain’s “Wet Ink” program Tuesday as part of an evening devoted to the music of local composers.

Before she retired five years ago, the Sacramento native was a highly successful interpreter of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, having sung with all the major orchestras in the world and with such well-known opera singers as Tebaldi and Placido Domingo.

Her Brunnhilde in the opera “Ring Des Nibelungen” by Wagner – a role she sang at New York’s Metropolitan Opera – had been called “brilliant” and “extraordinary” by critics.



Her favorites out of the 150-plus roles she has sung in her 40-year career that started in San Francisco, she says, are Eboli in “Don Carlos,” Tosca in “Tosca,” (a role she has sung 178 times), and Isolde in “Tristan and Isolde.” These roles show that Martin’s voice changes from Mezzo, to Spinto, and ultimately to Dramatic Soprano, which turned out to be “her home. I was finally happy when I got there.”

Having lived in Europe for 35 years, Martin has been happily ensconced in Grass Valley for the past six months. Even though she is an admitted city girl, she says, “I’m very glad to be here at this time of my life. I’m having fun going out to dinner and concerts after a strenuous career, and spending time, too, with my son and daughter-in-law in Reno.”




In fact, the Reno Opera has invited her to do outreach in schools there. Occasionally, Martin does a recital or concert, like the one she is planning with Twin Cities Concert Association for September 18, when she’ll sing classical, show, and movie tunes.

Participating in “Wet Ink,” singing the premier of “Memories of Mom” by Jay Sydeman, has been a lot of fun for her. “Jay asked me to sing,” she says, “because he knows I have a sense of humor, and it’s a funny piece in which I sing his mother who is reminding her son about how he forgot Mother’s Day. It has nothing to do with opera, just singing. I’m looking forward to it.”

Actually, these days, Martin doesn’t do much with opera, whether that means singing it or listening to it. But she is considering starting to give voice lessons. Anyone who is interested is invited to call her at 271-7005. “And my Web site is coming soon,” she promises.

To contact staff writer Pam Jung, e-mail pamj@theunion.com or call 477-4232.

• 1962: Wins the Metropolitan Opera auditions

• 1967: Sings Venus in “Tannhauser” at La Scala

• 1974: Back to the Met for three years sing such big parts as Kundry in “Parsifal,” Marie in “Wozzeck,” and Sieglinde in “Walkure” (the second opera in Wagner’s “Ring” series)

• 1997: Sings Bruunhilde in “Walkure”

– Pam Jung


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