Grace Bumbry

Biography

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 26-50 of 76 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Verdi: Aida / Mehta, Nilsson, Bumbry, Corelli, Sereni
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 63229 Release Date: 01/13/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Mirella Fiorentini,  Piero de Palma,  Ferruccio Mazzoli,  Bonaldo Giaiotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Rome Opera House Orchestra
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  • 27.
    Handel: Messiah / Sutherland, Bumbry, Mckellar, Ward, Boult
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802032 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  David Ward,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Grace Bumbry,  Kenneth McKellar
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
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  • 28.
    Verdi: Don Carlo / Fulton, Caballe, Bumbry, Bruson, Estes, Aragall
    Label: Hardy Classics   Catalog: 4045 Release Date: 10/12/2010  
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Guy Gaballe,  Michel Dumont,  Renato Bruson,  Grace Bumbry  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Fulton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra,  French Radio Chorus
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  • 29.
    Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress / Nagano, L’opera De Lyon
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4681380 Release Date: 06/15/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Dawn Upshaw,  Steven Cole,  Anne Collins,  Jerry Hadley  ... 
    Conductor:  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon Opera Orchestra,  Lyon Opera Chorus
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  • 30.
    Best Verdi 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40878 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Richard Van Allan,  Keith Erwen,  Delia Wallis,  Ferruccio Mazzoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Tullio Serafin,  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 31.
    Best Verdi 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40878 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Rolando Villazón,  Renato Bruson,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Marcello Viotti,  Giuseppe Patané,  Julius Rudel  ... 
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  • 32.
    Classical Legends - In Their Own Words
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 08972 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Ruggero Raimondi,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
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  • 33.
    Da Capo - Opera Highlights
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 149512 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Otto Nicolai,  Richard Wagner,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Armin Ude,  Grace Bumbry,  Siegfried Lorenz,  Sona Cervana  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernhard Klee,  Otmar Suitner,  Hans Vonk,  Václav Neumann  ... 
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  • 34.
    Passione - Opera For Lovers
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 149522 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Otto Nicolai,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Sylvia Geszty,  Evelyn Lear,  Thomas Stewart,  Hanne-Lore Kuhse  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur,  Heinz Fricke,  Otmar Suitner,  Siegfried Kurz  ... 
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  • 35.
    State Of The Art - The Story Of Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001341102 Release Date: 12/15/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Rafal Blechacz,  Kathleen Battle,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Leonard Bernstein,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gabrieli Consort,  Andalucian Dogs
    CD: $108.49
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  • 36.
    Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala (1983)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001326309 Release Date: 09/15/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Renato Bruson,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 37.
    Highlights From Musicals & Operettas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 35992 Release Date: 08/18/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ivor Novello,  Noel Coward,  Harold Fraser-Simson,  Frederic Norton  ... 
    Performer:  Moira Anderson,  Anne Rogers,  Kenneth Williams,  Neville Jason  ... 
    Conductor:  Robin Stapleton,  Geoff Love,  Brian Fahey,  Johnny Douglas  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Robin Stapleton Orchestra,  Chorus,  Orchestra  ... 
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  • 38.
    Classical Discovery - The History Of Classical Music
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 184622 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Charles Gounod,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Ronn McFarlane,  Cécile Ousset,  E. Power Biggs,  Grace Bumbry  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling,  Kurt Masur,  Herbert Blomstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Baltimore Consort,  Il Complesso Barocco  ... 
    CD: $58.99
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  • 39.
    Aida's Brothers & Sisters: Black Voices In Opera
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101367 Release Date: 07/28/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Reri Grist,  Barbara Hendricks,  Shirley Verrett,  Marian Anderson  ... 
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 40.
    Opera Goes To War!
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 63733 Release Date: 05/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Gioachino Rossini,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Nicola Zaccaria,  Angelo Mercuriali,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens,  Riccardo Muti,  Tullio Serafin,  Thomas Schippers  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 41.
    Icon - Franco Corelli - The Tenor As Hero
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 64887 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Franco Corelli,  Birgit Nilsson,  Bonaldo Giaiotti,  Grace Bumbry  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Franco Ferraris,  Tullio Serafin,  Rafaele Mingardo  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera Teatro Reale Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus  ... 
    CD: $27.49
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  • 42.
    Handel Gold - Bartoli, Fleming, Kozena, Terfel, Villazon, Te Kanawa, Sutherland, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001280102 Release Date: 04/14/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Crispian Steele-Perkins,  Cecilia Bartoli,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Barry Rose,  Marc Minkowski,  Marcello Viotti,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Les Musiciens du Louvre,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan  ... 
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  • 43.
    The Record of Singing Vol 5 - From the LP to the Digital Era
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 28949 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Jacques Offenbach,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk,  Luciana Serra,  Neil Shicoff,  Alain Vanzo  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Sylvain Cambreling,  Georges Prętre,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Orchestra,  Paris Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 44.
    Wagner: The Great Operas From The Bayreuth Festival
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001123902 Release Date: 06/17/2008   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Sieglinde Wagner,  Marga Höffgen,  Annelies Burmeister,  Dorothea Siebert  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Silvio Varviso,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 45.
    Der Junge Domingo Vol 4 - Verdi
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 53345 Release Date: 01/03/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Katia Ricciarelli,  Sherrill Milnes,  Martina Arroyo  ... 
    Conductor:  Anton Guadagno,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  James Levine,  Nello Santi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 46.
    Handel: Messiah / Boult, Sutherland, Bumbry, Mckellar, Ward
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 433003 Release Date: 10/22/2007   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  David Ward,  Kenneth McKellar,  Grace Bumbry,  Dame Joan Sutherland
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
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  • 47.
    The Premium Collection - 75 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000988602 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Edvard Grieg,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Alfons Kontarsky,  Aloys Kontarsky,  Wolfgang Herzer,  Göran Söllscher  ... 
    Conductor:  Baumgartner,  Neeme Järvi,  Seiji Ozawa,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lucerne Festival Strings
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  • 48.
    Ultimate Opera - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000895102 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  George Frideric Handel,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Marilyn Horne,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Dame Joan Sutherland  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Henry Lewis,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
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  • 49.
    Grace Bumbry In Concert
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4402 Release Date: 03/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Jules Massenet,  Giacomo Puccini,  Francesco Cilča  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry
    Conductor:  Massimo Pradella
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Switzerland Radio/TV Orchestra
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  • 50.
    Champagne And Laughter - Music Of Johann Strauss Jr.
    Label: Emi Classics For Pleasure   Catalog: 82236 Release Date: 03/20/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Johann Strauss Sr.,  Josef Strauss
    Performer:  Fritz Wunderlich,  Nicolai Gedda,  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Renate Holm  ... 
    Conductor:  Fried Walter,  Willi Boskovsky,  Theodor Guschlbauer,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  Johann Strauss Orchestra Vienna,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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