John F. Martin will sign copies of his recently published book, In Character: Opera Portraiture, at PHOTO’s First Friday on November 7, 2014.
In Character: Opera Portraiture memorably captures operatic performers away from the audience but fully inhabiting their roles. It showcases the work of John F. Martin, who for years set up a portable studio in the basement of the San Francisco Opera and photographed the players in costume and full makeup right before or after they took the stage. The subjects range from nonsinging supernumeraries through chorus members and comprimarii to opera’s greatest stars, such as Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Deborah Voigt, Juan Diego Florez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Their roles run the gamut of opera personalities: heroes and heroines, villains and outcasts, royalty and common folk, Biblical figures and creatures of myth. Facing Martin’s camera, each artist projects the essence of his or her character, however great or small the part. The book also features a foreword by author Amy Tan; a preface by David Gockley, general director of the San Francisco Opera; essays on opera behind the scenes, the vital role of costumes, and the transformation of singers into characters; and an interview with world-renowned soprano Danielle de Niese. A collection unlike any other, In Character will have broad appeal-to opera and theater buffs, costume and fashion aficionados, and anyone who appreciates fine art photography.
John F. Martin has been a commercial photographer for more than 30 years. His photographs were included in the show of the Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou at UCLA Fowler Museum and are in its permanent collection, and this work has been published in Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou, edited by Donald J. Cosentino. John’s publications also include a commemorative book of photographs from Amy Tan’s Bonesetter’s Daughter, the Opera. John has studied at New York’s School of Visual Arts, at City College, San Francisco, and at Stanford Continuing Studies, and he has taught at Academy of Art University.