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Martha Jane Howe (Contralto)

Born: USA

A versatile singing actress and teacher, contralto, Martha Jane Howe, has performed with numerous opera companies and symphony orchestras throughout the USA and Canada, consistently receiving critical praise for her rich voice and interpretive skill.

Martha Jane Howe has presented numerous recitals in Vienna, including two concerts of new works in the Alte Schmiede, and two Liederabend concerts in the Schubertkirche, Lichtental. She sang the alto solos in J.S. Bach’s B-minor Mass (BWV 232) in Munich, and three Bach cantatas in Eisenstadt, Austria and Schloss Esterhazy in Hungary. In 2001, she recorded Van de Vate’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

Martha Jane Howe has specialized in 20th century operas, starting with R. Strauss, Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich, and performed in 9 different world and USA premieres. In April 1999, she debuted in Vienna in two contemporary one-act operas by Param Vir with Musik Werkstatt Wien. A versatile singing actress, she has consistently received critical praise for her rich voice and interpretive skill. During five seasons with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she performed in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s McTeague, Prokofiev’s The Gambler, plus Die Walküre, The Bartered Bride, La Sonnambula, and Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Zubin Mehta. With San Diego Opera, she has performed The Rape of Lucretia, Albert Herring, Boris Godunov, Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Le Nozze de Figaro, Eugene Onegin, Roméo et Juliette, and in 2001, Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree. She will return to San Diego for a second Boris in 2007.

In 1998 Martha Jane Howe made her San Francisco Opera debut in Lulu and L’Incoronazione di Poppea, and her Los Angeles Opera debut in Faust and Elektra. Among her 70 roles with various companies, she has sung Der Fliegende Holländer, The Rake’s Progress and Elektra with the Canadian Opera Company, and Eugene Onegin, Boris Godunov, The Rape of Lucretia, Pelléas et Mélisande and L’Incoronazione di Poppea with Long Beach Opera. She has also appeared at the Washington Opera/Kennedy Center, and various roles with L’Opéra de Montréal, Santa Fe Opera, Sacramento, Arizona, Virginia and Baltimore Operas. She has performed the role of Dame Quickly in Falstaff with Utah Opera, Syracuse Opera, Indianapolis Opera and Memphis Opera.

Martha Jane Howe has also performed over 36 concert roles with major orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. She has performed with noted conductors Daniel Barenboim, Nicolas McGegan, Edo de Waart, Kent Nagano, Dennis Russell Davies, Richard Bonynge, James Conlon, Christoph von Dohnányi and Leonard Slatkin.

Martha Jane Howe's Concert Repertoire includes: J.S. Bach: B-moll Messe (BWV 232), Johannes-Passion (BWV 245), Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244), Magnificat (BWV 243) and Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248); L.v. Beethoven: Messe C-dur, Missa Solemnis, and Neunter Sinfonie; Johannes Brahms: Rhapsodie; Maurice Duruflé: Requiem; George Frideric Handel: Messiah; Arthur Honegger: King David; Gustav Mahler: Das klagende Lied, Das Lied von der Erde, Kindertotenlieder, and Symphony No. 2; Felix Mendelssohn: Elijah; Mozart: Requiem, Messe- C Dur, and Krönungs-Messe; Verdi: Requiem; Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder.

In 1998, Martha Jane Howe performed the Recitativo 9th Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Nicolas McGegan conducting, and Das klagende Lied with Kent Nagano and his Berkeley Symphony. Among other concert engagements, she has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Daniel Barenboim conducting), Minnesota Orchestra (Edo de Waart conducting), Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Festival (Christoph von Dohnányi conducting), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Emil DeCou conducting), Carmel Bach Festival, Santa Barbara Symphony, and four concerts with George Cleve and his Midsummer Mozart Orchestra. Her Carnegie Hall debut was in A. Honegger’s King David with the New York Choral Society.

In 1997 and 1999, Martha Jane Howe represented the Action Committee for Solo Singers at on-going union contract negotiations of the Basic Agreement between AGMA and the participating opera companies. These meetings resulted in the clarification and rewriting of the Basic Agreement and the National Agreement.

In 1998 Martha Jane Howe moved to Vienna, Austria, where she is currently teaching voice, Acting While Singing, presenting Breathing and Interpretation Workshops and stage directing. Presently, her students are performing in major productions in Berlin, London and Vienna, along with regional productions and individual performances in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria and California.

A published poet, Martha Jane Howe began writing program notes with the Param Vir operas she performed with Musik Werkstatt Wien in April 1999, and has been writing a monthly essay for Women In Motion, a publication in upstate New York, since July, 2002.

Since starting to stage direct in 2000 Martha Jane Howe has staged shortened versions of Rocky Horror Show and Oklahoma, blocks from J.C. Superstar and Glöckner von Notre Dame, scenes from Carousel, Frühjahrsparade, Jekyll and Hyde, Sunset Boulevard, Man of La Mancha, The Wiz and Titanic, and over 100 audition songs. She produced and directed the VMS 2003 Christmas Show, and the 2004 Summer Show, Divided Hearts.

Source: Martha Jane Howe (December 2004)
Contributed by
Martha Jane Howe & Aryeh Oron (November-December 2004)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Michaela Prentl


BWV 232

Links to other Sites

Martha Jane Howe (Official Website)


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