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Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's her birthday...Grace Bumbry

Grace Bumbry - Black Venus
One of the most dazzling performers whose career has seen stereotypes shattered and been an inspiration to many celebrates her 77th birthday today, Grace Bumbry.  

Having grown up with segregation in her formative years she rose to international renown as the first black singer to perform at Bayreuth at the invitation of Wieland Wagner, singing Venus in the 1961 season of Tannhauser.  She was 24 at the time.  The performance survives in glorious stereo and is certainly one to marvel at in terms of vocal beauty.  You can hear it with Spotify or purchase in on iTunes, Amazon and at any good Record Store. 

Grace Bumbry - Salome


Of all the performers from that era that I loved and wished who had recorded Salome in the studio, it was Grace Bumbry.  I grew up with images of her like the one above and this one here...which as you can imagine, I loved.

Fortunately there exists a complete broadcast recording from the performance of January 5, 1974 at the Metropolitan Opera.  It's available to stream if you are a member of their Met Opera on Demand.  Totally worth it and one day hopefully they may release it on disc.

Here below is a rare snippet of La Bumbry as Salome, from what looks to be the Vienna State Opera production dating back to the mid-late Seventies.  She is in ravishing form and it's a shame the clip is so brief.  It does however point to the existence of a complete performance video, locked away somewhere.  We can only hope.




I suggest having a look at the Diva's own website for more information.  She is still a fabulous and influential force in Opera to this day.  Happy birthday Grace Bumbry.  May you continue to provide encouragement, inspiration and joy for years to come.


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