Éva Marton studied singing at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, where her teachers included Endre Rösler and Jenő Sipos. Having made her professional operatic debut in 1967 as Kate Pinkerton / Madama Butterfly at the Margareten Island Festival (Budapest), she first appeared with the Hungarian State Opera during the following year as the Queen of Shemakha / Le Coq d’Or and continued as a member of this company until 1972: her parts included the title roles in Tosca and Handel’s Rodelinda, the Countess / Le nozze di Figaro and Tatyana / Eugene Onegin.
At the request of music director Christoph von Dohnányi, Marton joined the Frankfurt Opera in 1972, making her debut as the Countess and remaining with the company until 1976. During this time she not only expanded her repertoire to include heavier roles, such as Eva / Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, but also sang elsewhere: at the Maggio Musicale, Florence during 1972 as Mathilde / Guillaume Tell under Riccardo Muti; at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels as Elisabetta / Don Carlo; at the Vienna State Opera (debut in 1973 as Tosca); at the Bavarian State Opera, Munich in 1974 as Donna Elvira / Don Giovanni; and at the Metropolitan Opera, New York (debut in 1976, as Eva).
Having joined the Hamburg State Opera in 1977, Marton continued to expand her repertoire, for example with the Empress / Die Frau ohne Schatten. In the same year she first appeared at the Bayreuth Festival, as both Elisabeth and Venus / Tannhäuser (returning in 1978), and at the San Francisco Opera in the title role of Aida.
By now Marton was in demand on both sides of the Atlantic: her debut at La Scala, Milan, came in 1978 as Leonora / Il trovatore and during the following year at the Chicago Lyric Opera as Maddalena / Andrea Chénier. She sang the title role in Richard Strauss’s Die aegyptische Helena at the Munich Opera Festival in 1981, with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting, and made her Salzburg Festival debut in 1982 as Leonora / Fidelio with Lorin Maazel at the helm, returning in 1983.
After her performances as Elisabeth at the Met in 1982, the New York Times hailed Marton as ‘the opera world’s next important dramatic soprano’, a status confirmed when she took the title role in Turandot at the Vienna State Opera in 1983 with Maazel conducting. Marton became closely associated with this role, later singing it at the Met, San Fancisco, Chicago, Barcelona, London, Milan and the Verona Arena, as well as elsewhere.
Her other roles at the Met included the title part in La Gioconda and Chrysothemis / Elektra (both from 1978); the Empress (1981); Elisabeth (1982); Leonore / Fidelio (1983); Ortrud / Lohengrin (1984); Tosca (1987); Leonora (1988) and the title role in Salome (1989); her final Met appearance was as Tosca in 1999.
Marton sang Brünnhilde in a number of notable cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen (including that conducted by Zubin Mehta in Chicago in 1996) and recorded the entire role with Haitink. During 1989 she took the title part in Catalani’s La Wally in Munich and returned to the Salzburg Festival to sing the title role in Elektra. This, another role with which she was closely identified, Marton reprised at the Royal Opera House, London in 1994; and she returned to the Salzburg Festival in 1992 for the Dyer’s Wife / Die Frau ohne Schatten under Solti.
Later roles which Marton tackled included the Kostelnička / Jenůfa (Hamburg, 1998); Isolde / Tristan und Isolde (2000); Kundry / Parsifal (Lisbon and Barcelona, 2001); and the title role in Giordano’s Fedora (Miskolc Opera Festival, concert performances, 2006 and 2007). She formally retired from the operatic stage in 2008 with performances of Klytaemnestra / Elektra in Barcelona, but returned to sing this role in Geneva in 2010.
A performer endowed with great personal beauty, Marton was able to generate a powerful presence on stage. She possessed an extremely powerful and well-focused voice, which she knew how to use for maximum dramatic effect.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Singers, Naxos 8.558097-100).