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Julia Migenes (Mezzo-soprano, Soprano)

Born: March 13, 1949 - New York City (Lower East Side), New York, USA

The American soprano/mezzo-soprano, Julia Migenes (she is sometimes credited as Julia Migenes-Johnson.), was born into a family made up of a passionate mixture of Greek and Irish-Puerto-Rican descent. Despite a difficult and violent childhood, she discovered her calling upon engagement of the child role in Madame Butterfly where she first experienced the power and the emotion of music linked to a stage setting. A few years later, while studying at the New York School for Performing Arts, she was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to be a soloist in his "Young People's Concerts". She graduated from The High School of Music & Art in New York City in 1960. Julia then began her Broadway career: she was part of the original casting of the long-running musical Fiddler on the Roof with Zero Mostel (played Tevye's second daughter Hodel) and she interpreted Maria in West Side Story.

However, she understood that her real calling was to sing, leading her to a cover contract at the New York Metropolitan Opera. While substituting for the leading role of Alban Berg's, renowned for its technical difficulty, she was cheered and acclaimed by the public, launching her opera career. Word of this new star crossed the Atlantic where Maurice Béjart was desperately searching for his Salomé to be staged in Geneva. Julia Migenes embodied the ideal combination for this role: a world-class opera singer and a graceful dancer.

While on stage in Geneva as Salomé, the Italian film director Francesco Rosi was casting for his up and coming film: Carmen. The lead role required not only an opera singer and dancer but also an actress sensual enough to personify the burning passion of Georges Bizet's character. The result was Julia Migenes immortalized in a motion picture that has since become a reference in the filmed opera genre. The soundtrack not only brought her a Grammy Award but even more worldwide notoriety that allowed her to access the greatest theaters in the world.

To this day, Julia Migenes has recorded more than 20 albums. Among the most recent : "Vienna" conducted by Lalo Schifrin, a Gold record six months after its release ; in 1996, "Man of la Mancha" (L'homme de la Mancha), conducted and arranged by Paul Gemignani, with Plácido Domingo, Samuel Ramey, Mandy Patinkin ; in 1999, "Robert Stolz" and "The music of Franz Lehar" for BBC and in 2000, Donizetti's "Catarina Cornaro".

In 1998, Julia Migenes wrote Diva on the Verge, a one-woman-show mingling monologue and opera often mocking its rigid world, revealing her daring wit and sense of humor. In 1999, she performed this show in French in Paris and throughout France and French-speaking countries. She is preparing a Spanish version of this show for a tour in Spain and Latin America. She continues to present the English version in a tour throughout the USA.

In May 2001 Julia Migenes created Passions Latines, a choreographed recital in which she interprets a repertoire of Latin music, both classical and traditional, from Granados, Heitor Villa-Lobos, to flamenco, tango and the great contemporary salsa songs. She presented this show at the Paris Olympia in March 2002 followed by several international summer festivals. In July 2002, she created for the Festival d'Avignon La Argentina, a tribute to tango accompanied by the Argentinean quintet Tiempo Sur. An international tour is still taking place and included a stop at the prestigious Paris Théâtre du Châtelet. Julia Migenes has put together a program dedicated to sacred songs which premiered at the Fès Festival of Sacred Music (Morocco) in June 2003. She was also part of the cast along Barbara Hendricks of a new opera Angels in America by Péter Eötvös which was created at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in November 2004.

In 2005 Julia Migenes recorded her new jazz album "Alter Ego" (release early 2006). Also the first rehearsals for Pierrot Lunaire (by Arnold Schoenberg) took place before Hans Peter Cloos staged the work in New York early 2006. For "Alter Ego" she worked again with Philippe Calvario. The recital was based on great jazz titles and American pop muisc and was first presented on stage in 2006. In 2006 Julia Migenes' first biography was published by the Editions du Rocher in France: Mémoires d'un oiseau rebelle. In November 2006 she premiered her show Alter Ego staged by Philippe Calvario at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and toured throughout Europe until the end of 2007. In 2007, the Opéras en Plein Air asked Julia Migenes to handle the stage direction of Le Barbier de Séville by Gioachino Rossini. The opera was performed in prestigious venues like the gardens of the Sénat, the castle of Champ de Bataille in Evreux and the castle of Vaux le Vicomte.

In November 2007, she was on tour with a classical recital accompanied by Janine Reiss (vocal coach of Maria Callas for years but also of Julia Migenes on, the set of Carmen), she also creates in 2008 L'Heure Espagnole in Clermont-Ferrand and starts working on a show about Schubert. In July 2008, Julia Migenes performed with Plácido Domingo and the Cairo Orchestra during the Jordan Festival in Amman.

In 2009, Julia Migenes will release a new cd "Hollywood Divas" dedicated to the greatest actresses of cinema. An occasion to revive once more the golden age of cinema and to recall legendary actresses such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich or Carmen Miranda...

More Photos

Source: Julia Migenes Website; Wikipedia Website (September 2012)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (September 2012)

Julia Migenes: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works under her name

Links to other Sites

Julia Migenes (Official Website) [English/French]

Julia Migenes (Wikipedia)

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