Grace Bumbry


Born: January 4, 1937; St. Louis, MO  
As a youth Grace Melzia Ann Bumbry sang in church choirs. In 1955 she entered Northwestern University, where she studied voice with Lotte Lehman, and transferred with her to the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. In 1958 she was joint winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, sharing first place with Martina Arroyo. She won some other prizes, and made her professional debut in a recital in London in 1959. Her first operatic Read more appearance was at the Paris Opéra, as Amneris in Verdi's Aida. It was one of the most spectacular operatic debuts in history; Bumbry became an instant star and was invited to join the roster of the Basle Opera. She made operatic history in 1961 when she was engaged by Wieland Wagner to sing at the Bayreuth Festival and became the first black singer to perform in that shrine of Wagnerian opera. Furthermore, musical historian Nicolas Slomimsky has pointed out that she was the first African American to make a professional operatic as a goddess, for her debut at Bayreuth was as Venus in Tannhäuser, July 23, 1961. Bumbry embarked on a concert tour of the United States and was invited by Jacqueline Kennedy to sing at the White House, on February 20, 1962. She also followed up her smash success at Bayreuth with appearances as Venus at the Chicago Lyric Opera and at Lyons, France.

Bumbry's 1963 London debut came in the role of Princess Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlos, and she gave her first Metropolitan Opera performance in the same role in 1965. Among the other roles she undertook were those of Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth and Carmen in Bizet's opera. During the 1960s Bumbry worked on extending her range. In 1970 at the Vienna Staatsoper, she sang the part of Santuzza, making her debut as a soprano. She sang Richard Strauss's Salome at Covent Garden the same year, and her first appearance in Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera came in 1971. She maintained her mezzo voice while triumphing in soprano parts, such as Jenufa in Janacek's opera and as Ariane in Dukas' Bluebeard. Between operatic performances she established a fine recital career, stressing the core repertory of German lieder. Her attractions as a performer include a commanding stage presence with an effective and understated acting technique. She has a very warm voice with rich tone quality throughout the mezzo range, although it loses some of its distinctiveness in the very upper part of her soprano register. She is among the few sopranos who have sung both the roles of Aida and Amneris in Aida and both Venus and Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhäuser. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 76 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Brahms: Lieder / Bumbry, Glass
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 941171 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Beaumont Glass
    CD: $19.99
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  • 2.
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 / Bohm, Bayreuther Festspiele
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 935171 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Gundula Janowitz,  Jess Thomas,  Grace Bumbry,  George London
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 3.
    Verdi: Aida / Leinsdorf, London Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985434852 Release Date: 10/06/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Hans Sotin,  Placido Domingo,  Leontyne Price,  Sherrill Milnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir
    CD: $15.99
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  • 4.
    The Art of Grace Bumbry
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4827626 Release Date: 02/24/2017   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Pietro Mascagni,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Dale Blackburn,  Warren Wood,  Don Watts,  Grace Bumbry  ... 
    Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel,  Sir Adrian Boult,  János Kulka,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utah Symphony Orchestra,  University Of Utah Combined Choruses,  Whittier School Children's Choir  ... 
    On sale! $49.98
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  • 5.
    The Inaugural Season: Extraordinary Met Performances from 1966-67
    Label: Metropolitan Opera   Catalog: 70182 Release Date: 12/16/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Strauss,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Jess Thomas,  Leontyne Price,  Justino Diaz,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Zubin Mehta,  Karl Böhm,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $145.99
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  • 6.
    Leontyne Price: Prima Donna Assoluta
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 531134 Release Date: 10/07/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Sherrill Milnes,  Leontyne Price,  Judith Raskin,  Tatiana Troyanos  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  Herbert von Karajan,  Thomas Schippers,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    The Originals, Vol. 2
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002534902 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Nathan Milstein,  Géza Anda,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Eugen Jochum,  Wolfgang Schneiderhan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $142.49
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  • 8.
    Opera Gold: 100 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002503602 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Marilyn Horne,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Henry Lewis,  Richard Bonynge,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 9.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459302 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Violeta Urmana,  Stuart Neill,  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Voices,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $220.99
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  • 10.
    Nicolai Gedda - My Favorite Operetta Heroes
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 550579 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Franz Lehár
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Wolfgang Anheisser,  Kurt Böhme,  Rita Streich  ... 
    Conductor:  Franz Allers,  Willy Mattes,  Willi Boskovsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Graunke Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 11.
    Lorin Maazel - The Complete Early Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002251502 Release Date: 02/17/2015   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Igor Stravinsky,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanine Collard,  Jane Berbié,  Sylvaine Gilma,  Colette Herzog  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $85.99
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  • 12.
    Voce D'Angelo - The Complete Decca Recordings / Renata Tebaldi
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4781535 Release Date: 01/20/2015   Number of Discs: 66
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Inghilleri,  Giacinto Prandelli,  Melchiorre Luise,  Fernando Corena  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Erede,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 13.
    Wagner: Tannhauser  / Sawallisch, Windgassen, Fischer-dieskau, Bumbry
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 888143 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Josef Greindl,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $54.49
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  • 14.
    The Early Domingo
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 975792 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Jacques Halévy  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Georgetta Psaros,  John McCaw,  Franklyn Whiteley  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Downes,  Nello Santi,  Sherrill Milnes,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
    CD: $21.49
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  • 15.
    The Verdi Tenor / Carlo Bergonzi
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002089202 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francesco Cilča,  Umberto Giordano,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Giulietta Simionato,  Cornell MacNeil,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Piero de Palma  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Georg Solti,  John Pritchard,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Friends of Music Society,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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  • 16.
    J. Strauss Jr.: Operettas / Boskovsky, Welser-Most
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 8466429 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
    Performer:  Elizabeth Magnuson,  Martina Jankova,  Michael Volle,  Alexander Pereira  ... 
    Conductor:  Franz Welser-Möst,  Franz Allers,  Willi Boskovsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Opera Chorus,  Zurich Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 17.
    Domingo - The Verdi Opera Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 372279 Release Date: 01/07/2014   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Bruce Brewer,  Edith Mathis,  Hans Sotin  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  James Levine,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 18.
    Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice / Bumbry, Rothenberger, Neumann
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94703 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Ruth Margaret Pütz,  Walter Olbertz
    Conductor:  Václav Neumann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
    CD: $11.99
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  • 19.
    Verdi: Messa Da Requiem / Konya, Bumbry, Ligabue, Arie, Giulini
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 3079968 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Sándor Kónya,  Grace Bumbry,  Raffaele Arié,  Ilva Ligabue
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 20.
    Grandioso! - Great Verdi Recordings From Caruso To Pavarotti [7 CD-Set]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001928802 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Sándor Kónya,  Maria Németh,  Ebe [Mezzo-soprano Vocal] Stignani,  Renata Tebaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  János Kulka,  Alberto Erede,  Bruno Bartoletti  ... 
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  • 21.
    Verdi at The Met
    Label: Sony   Catalog:  721202 Release Date: 09/30/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Rosa Ponselle,  Friedrich Jagel,  Lawrence Tibbett,  Henriette Wakefield  ... 
    Conductor:  Ettore Panizza,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Thomas Schippers,  Fritz Stiedry  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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    CD: $76.99
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  • 22.
    Magic Verdi
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 282712 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Fiorenza Cossotto,  Martina Arroyo,  Piero Cappuccilli  ... 
    Conductor:  Efrem Kurtz,  Riccardo Muti,  Alberto Erede,  Anton Guadagno  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 23.
    50 Best Sensual Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 333022 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  James Horner,  Pietro Mascagni,  Nino Rota,  Charles Chaplin  ... 
    Performer:  Natasha Marsh,  Sally Herbert,  Nikolaj Bloch,  Jose Alberto Giaimo  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons,  François-Xavier Roth,  Ron Goodwin,  Michel Plasson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic,  Ahn Trio,  Virtuosi
    CD: $11.99
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  • 24.
    Verdi: The Great Operas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 167452 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Anne Edwards,  Matteo Manuguerra,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Renata Scotto  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  James Levine,  Tullio Serafin,  Antonio Pappano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus  ... 
    CD: $97.49
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  • 25.
    Solti conducts the Verdi Operas
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746202 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Robert Merrill,  Rita Gorr,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
    CD: $108.49
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