Amazing Grace is 80 today

January 4, 2017 by norman lebrecht


The first black singer to appear at Bayreuth, Grace Bumbry has blazed trails of glory across the opera world for more than half a century.


She made her debut in Paris in 1960 as Amneris. Wieland Wagner cast her as Venus in Tannhäuser in summer 1961. Jackie Kennedy summoned her to sing at the White House. Vienna upgraded her to soprano in Verdi’s Macbeth.

She made a much-belated Met debut as Tosca in 1971, together with conductor James Levine, also on debut.

In in 2013, she sang the Countess at the Vienna State Opera in Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame.

Happy  birthday, amazing Grace.

Comments (10)

  1. APHogbin says:

    A truly fabulous singer – I remember a glorious concert with Shirley Verrett in the 1980s at Covent Garden.

    1. A P Hogbin says:

      …..and a Selika with a wild but exciting Bonisolli in L’Africaine.

  2. David Osborne says:

    Grace Bumbry sang at Bayreuth ten years before she made her Met debut? Incredible.

  3. Ungeheuer says:

    Here she is with Cheryl Studer in 1987 in Vienna in Gluck’s “Telemaco”

  4. Paul Gruber says:

    Her Met debut was as Eboli, 1965.

    1. Richard says:

      Correct. The same performance Nicolai Ghiaruov made his debut, as King Philip

  5. Stephen says:

    She was a fabulous Salome – both singing and acting – for Solti at Covent Garden c. 1970.

    1. Michael Jones says:

      I saw it, I still have the programme.

    2. psq says:

      Was it for those performances that she said in an interview, in answer to press’ questions, that she would disrobe down to nothing but her perfume?

      1. Michael Jones says:

        If memory serves (and it was a very long time ago), she wore a body stocking. I was too far away to know about the perfume.

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