Opera singers take on new role


Danielle Martin And Kenneth Floyd Jr.

September 16, 2001|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,Special to the Sun

Danielle Martin and Kenneth Floyd Jr. sing opera for a living, so at their wedding on Sept. 1, they decided to leave the music to someone else. There was no shortage of volunteers:

The matron of honor, Theresa Santiago, sang prelude music and "The Lord's Prayer" during the ceremony at Central Presbyterian Church in Towson. A high school friend of the bride's sang "Ave Maria" during the ceremony. The bride's uncle, Samuel Martin, played the violin at the ceremony and at the reception, held at Historic Savage Mill in Savage. Members of the wedding party also sang solos at the reception, where a swing band entertained guests for much of the evening.

Family members tried to talk the bride and groom into singing, but they preferred to spend their time visiting with guests. "I've been singing for three straight months; I need a break," says Danielle, who finished a summer with the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, N.Y., a week before the wedding.

A break from singing is rare for Danielle and Kenneth, who met while pursuing their master's degrees at the Manhattan School of Music.

Danielle, 25, who grew up in Northern Baltimore, began singing early under the guidance of her mother, Flora Martin, a singer with the Baltimore Opera for 14 years. (Her father, Victor Martin, is a videographer.)

When Danielle was 8, she appeared onstage with the Baltimore Opera as a nonsinging extra in Susannah. She attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, and the Juilliard School.

Kenneth, 26, has performed with the New York City Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Growing up in Conway, S.C., he began singing in church when he was 5. His father, Kenneth Floyd Sr., is a Baptist minister who read the invocation at the wedding ceremony. His mother, Anna Mae Floyd, lighted candles with the bride's mother before the ceremony.

Kenneth started voice and piano lessons in the eighth grade and continued to sing in high school and college at Millikin University in Illinois and later, the University of Nebraska. In 1997, he went on to the Manhattan School of Music, where he met Danielle.

They attended classes together and became friends. But it wasn't until both ended previous relationships that their romance flourished, after a dinner with a group of friends. But it was 3 1/2 years before Kenneth, who works in public relations for the Showtime network, surprised Danielle with an engagement ring while on a cruise in the Bahamas.

"Both of us took time to make sure, to be secure in what we wanted in our jobs and financially," he says.

The couple had to consider the time and concentration required by professional singing careers. Opera singers are away from home for a month at a time on average, often longer.

When one member of the couple has to be away long term from their home and two dogs in New York City, they make an effort to visit each other. They also e-mail and talk on the phone five or six times a day just to catch up, including a call right before they go to sleep.

"Its probably easier that she is in the same profession," Kenneth says. "She understands the ups and downs a lot better than someone else would."

Says Danielle: "It's never been quite that easy with people who aren't in the industry. He's an absolute treasure."

Danielle and Kenneth are looking forward to audition season after they return from a honeymoon in the Bahamas. They say they will consider the distance before they accept jobs, and take it one gig at a time. It can even be refreshing to have some alone time, Danielle says, because it helps them value their time together.

"You never take for granted day-to-day life," she says.

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