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Camilla Williams, first African-American soprano star of the opera stage, dead at 92

By John Terauds on January 30, 2012

On May 15, 1946, a soprano named Camilla Williams made her début as Butterfly at the City Center Opera of New York, making her the first African-American woman to star on a major opera stage. Among her many other accomplishments was singing the role of Bess in the first complete recording of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

In 1977, Williams became the first African-American voice professor at Indiana University’s prestigious music school in Bloomington. She died there on Sunday, of complications from cancer. She was 92.

Here is a wonderful, 10-minute documentary shown at a New York City Opera opera tribute to Williams in 2009:

http://youtu.be/JHEM5-tTPE0

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
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