She cited the importance of scholarship money.
“You have to have money to get students in here,” Horne said. “Our director of the school, Larry Mallett, has been very focused on that. Most talented students don’t have any money. When state legislatures don’t properly fund their public universities, its disastrous.”
Horne considers herself a California girl. She graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School and the University of Southern California. Horne has performed on television and in the movies but it’s work in the high-brow world of opera that has given her the most satisfaction.
“The only time I felt connected to the whole universe was when singing in recital,” she said. “I love Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, but my heart is with Beethoven, Rossini and Verdi. They’re much harder to master than pop music and it gives you so much more satisfaction.” Horne is excited about the state of modern opera composition. “There are more new operas being written today than in the 1950s and ’60s,” she said. “For a time composers were writing complicated and hard to sing ‘serial music’ for each other rather than for the entertainment of an audience.”
Horne termed contemporary opera as being in a “sing-able” period and the only question is if these pieces will endure the test of time.
The “Marilyn Horne Song Celebration” presented at Carnegie Hall in January for “The Song Continues” series and her master classes at OU and other institutions will keep the grand opera tradition vibrant for decades to come.
“We’ve made a mark and it’s very gratifying,” Horne said.