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Shirley Verrett
Birth: May 31, 1931
New Orleans
Orleans Parish
Louisiana, USA
Death: Nov. 5, 2010
Ann Arbor
Washtenaw County
Michigan, USA

Opera Singer. An esteemed mezzo soprano, she later added some of the heavier soprano roles to her repertoire. Raised in New Orleans and later Los Angeles by a rather strict family who, disapproving of opera, wanted her to become a concert singer, she studied at New York's Juilliard School and made her 1957 professional debut in Benjamin Britten's "The Rape of Lucretia". Verrett was first heard at the New York City Opera in 1958 as Irina in Kurt Weill's "Lost in the Stars", then went on to win the 1961 Metropolitan Opera auditions. Living for a time in Europe, she was heard in several major venues, making her Covent Garden, London, bow in 1966 as the fortune teller Ulrica from Giuseppe Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera". Returning to America, she gave the first of her 126 Metropolitan Opera performances in 1968 as Georges Bizet's cigarette girl "Carmen", then was first seen at La Scala Milano in 1969 as the title heroine of Camille Saint-Saens' "Samson et Dalila". Verrett built her career despite the handicap of chronic allergies, earning praise in such mezzo roles as Adalgisa from Vincenzo Bellini's "Norma", Princess Eboli of Verdi's "Don Carlo" and the gypsy Azucena from the same composer's "Il Trovatore". In 1973 she was to give a performance that has become legendary, singing Cassandra in Part I of Hector Berlioz' "Les Troyens", then filling-in for an indisposed Christa Ludwig as Dido in Part II. Gradually adding soprano roles, not always to critical acclaim, she was Lady Macbeth from Verdi's "Macbeth", and the title leads of Bellini's "Norma", Verdi's "Aida", and Puccini's "Tosca", singing the last named in a 1978 "Live from the Met" telecast opposite Luciano Pavarotti as the painter Mario Cavaradossi. In 1981 she even appeared as Desdemona in a Boston production of Verdi's "Otello" which was conducted by Sarah Caldwell and featured James Cracken as the Moor, a role usually avoided by black singers because of the story line. Verrett made her 1994 Broadway debut as Nettie Fowler in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel", then in 1996 assumed a professorship at the University of Michigan. She published her autobiography, "I Never Walked Alone", in 2003 and retired in 2009. She died of heart failure after being ill for several months leaving a significant recorded legacy of both studio and live performances. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
 
Burial:
Mount Vernon Memorial Park
Fair Oaks
Sacramento County
California, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Nov 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 61194840
Shirley Verrett
Added by: Ron Moody
 
Shirley Verrett
Added by: Bob Hufford
 
Shirley Verrett
Cemetery Photo
Added by: countedx58
 
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