[Photo Courtesy: Michelle Vires; Borja Mariño accompanies Laura Martinez León for the Opera Fusion-FIU School of Music “Zarzuela de las Americas” competition, located at FIU’s Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center]
Soprano alumna, Laura Martinez León, is in Spain and will spend about three months in Europe to study with several voice teachers after her May 23rd performance at the Escuela Superior de Canto, Madrid’s Conservatory of Music.
After a master class at Florida International University School of Music in December with world-renowned zarzuela coach Borja Mariño, Martinez León won the Pili de la Rosa Award at the Opera Fusion-FIU School of Music “Zarzuela de las Americas” competition for her performance of “Me llaman la primorosa” from “El Barbero de Sevilla” by Jerónimo Giménez and Miguel Nieto.
Mariño subsequently invited Martinez León to Spain to perform in concert. He is a vocal coach, composer, musicologist and pianist who has accompanied luminaries of the international opera scene, and currently is on the faculty of the Escuela Superior de Canto.
At the concert, led by Mariño, Martinez León performed a set of “Hermit” songs by Samuel Barber, a Cuban artsong, and zarzuela selections including pieces by Ernesto Lecuona, Eduardo Sanchez de Fuentes, and Gonzalo Roig. A local tenor joined her for a set of Spanish zarzuela selections.
In addition to the concert she gave at the Escuela Superior de Canto, Martinez León was invited to study zarzuela with baritone David Menéndez in Asturias, Spain, and will study under other experts in Valencia and Madrid. After that, she will study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, with renowned soprano Helen Donath, a frequent guest artist at the FIU School of Music.
Martinez León is a member of the Young Artist Program of the Florida Grand Opera, where this year she has covered Yvette in “The Passenger” and Norina in “Don Pasquale.” In 2015 she won the 19th Annual FIU Concerto Competition, and then showcased her talent in the Orchestral Masterworks Series featuring the FIU Symphony Orchestra and the Miami Music Project. She also performs regularly with Opera Fusion, and is the official National Anthem performer for the Immigration Services of Miami-Dade County.
Martinez León immigrated to the United States in 2005 after growing up in Cuba where she sang in a children’s opera choir in the Grand Theater Garcia Lorca in Havana; later, as a teen, she sang in the National Juvenile Choir, directed by Digna Guerra. As a young child, she briefly took piano lessons; this enabled her to read music, a critical skill that allowed her to be accepted into the choirs.
After graduating high school in the United States with honors, she earned her AA in music education at Miami Dade College in 2010 — where she graduated with highest honors again. She then moved to New York and earned her bachelor’s degree in music with a specialty in voice performance at Nyack College in 2012, where she graduated magna cum laude. She went on to earn a master’s degree in music at Florida International University in 2015.
Today Martinez León is a coloratura soprano, an often-used name for a fast, bright voice that reaches stratospheric notes.
Martinez León created the role of the Cuban-Amercan diva Margarita Cerveza Tequila in Opera Fusion’s “Duelling Divas,” which was performed in 2015 at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale and FAU’s University Theatre, and she will reprise the role for Opera Fusion in December. Her other performance roles in 2015 included Princess Laola from “L’Etoile” at FIU, and as soloist in the recent recording of “Stars & Distances” by Fredrick Kaufman, with members of the Florida Grand Opera.
Among her opera roles are Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” (The Magic Flute) at Nyack College in 2011; Musetta from “La Bohème” at Nyack College in 2012, Marguerita Fiorentino from “Street Scene” at Florida International University in 2014 and Königin der Nacht from “Die Zauberflöte” at the Miami Summer Festival in 2014.
Her concert and zarzuela roles were as a soloist in the Enrique Chia Concert for the Cuban Research Institute in 2014, a soloist in “The Messiah” at Florida International University in 2014, as Charito in “La Leyenda del Beso” for Pro Arte Gratelli in 2014 and as a soloist in the Ernesto Lecuona Homage for the Cuban Research Institute in 2013.
To find out more about, visit LauraMartinezLeon.com.