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Bumbry, Grace (Melzia Ann)

debut sang soprano opera

Bumbry, Grace (Melzia Ann), greatly talented black American mezzo-soprano and soprano; b. St. Louis, Jan. 4, 1937. She attended Boston Univ. and Northwestern Univ., and pursued vocal training with Lehmann at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara (1955–58) and with Bernac in Paris. With Martina Arroyo, she was co-winner of the Metropolitan Opera auditions in 1958. In 1960 she made a notably successful operatic debut as Amneris at the Paris Opéra. In 1961 she became the first black American singer to appear at the Bayreuth Festival when she sang Venus in Tannhäuser . In 1963 she made her Covent Garden debut in London as Eboli, and her Chicago Lyric Opera debut as Ulrica. In 1964 she sang Lady Macbeth at her first appearance at the Salzburg Festival. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as Eboli on Oct. 7, 1965, and subsequently sang there regularly. From 1970 she concentrated on the soprano repertoire. Among her distinguished roles at the Metropolitan were Carmen (1967), Santuzza (1970), Tosca (1971), Salome (1973), Venus (1977), Leonora in II Trovatore (1982), and Gershwin’s Bess (1985). In 1990 she sang Berlioz’s Cassandre at the opening of the new Opéra de la Bastille in Paris. She also appeared as a soloist with major orchs. and as a recitalist.

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