Pitt-Bradford to open Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center

Marilyn Horne
Marilyn Horne

Pitt-Bradford will open its Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center May 6, attracting people to the city's downtown.


Horne herself will take part in events, which begin at 2 p.m. with a dedication to be held in Veterans Square on the east end of Main Street. The dedication will be followed by public tours of the museum in Marilyn Horne Hall.


At 5 p.m., a free recital by soprano Julie Davies and bass DeAndre Simmons will take place in the Bromeley Family Theater in Blaisdell Hall on the Pitt-Bradford campus.


The world-famous mezzo-soprano bequeathed her archives and memorabilia to the university in her hometown of Bradford, where she was born in 1934 and lived until she was 11.


“It's a very warm feeling,” Horne said of the museum's creation. “I have one man who is behind all of this, and that's Livingston (Alexander, president of Pitt-Bradford). He's worked very hard for this whole situation.”


Alexander said, “Getting to know Marilyn Horne over the last 12 years has been a sheer pleasure and delight. How fortunate we are that the grand lady decided to donate her archive collection to the university and that we're able to keep her legacy alive through the museum and exhibit center.”


For many years, the Marilyn Horne Foundation supported the university and her hometown by presenting Foundation singers in week-long residencies in Bradford. During these residencies the young artists gave informal presentations for students in regional schools and formal recitals in Bromeley Family Theater, the university's concert hall.


Horne herself performed in Bradford for the Bradford Creative and Performing Arts Center. She also served as honorary chairperson for a campaign to build the university's creative and performing arts center.


Now, Pitt-Bradford has created a 3,400 square-foot museum in Marilyn Horne Hall on the town square where Horne at age 4 made her performance debut singing with her sister, Gloria.


            The museum traces Horne's life and career with interactive features through which she explains technique, gives performances and talks about her life. A short biographical film will be shown in a small theater covered in murals to make it appear like a miniature version of the baroque opera house Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Italy. Horne sang the title role of Rossini's Tancredi there in 1981.


            The first thing visitors are likely to notice are four replica costumes created for the museum. The costumes are from Horne's operatic roles in Aida, The Barber of Seville, Carmen and Orfeo at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City during the height of her career in the 1970s.


            Inside the museum, other interactive features will teach visitors about vocal music and opera.


            One station will allow visitors to stage an opera, creating animated characters and choosing costumes and sets.


            Another station will introduce visitors to the vocal parts of soprano, mezzo, tenor and bass. Visitors can then test themselves on identifying different voice parts.


            Since many operas are not in English, a third station will be a matching game in which players hear part of a song, then try to match it to words.


            For those who prefer English, a giant jukebox with touchscreen will allow visitors to play popular songs sung by Horne.


            The museum will be free. For more information, visit www.upb.pitt.edu/marilynhorne/


                Parking for the event will be available at the City of Bradford parking lot on Pine Street and the Pitt-Bradford lot on the corner of South Avenue and West Corydon Street in addition to regular city parking lots and metered parking.